MLAX: Nittany Lions Make History; Squeak Past Stags
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – It was an incredibly well contested game all around as the No. 2 Penn State Nittany Lions eked out a 9-8 win in their contest with the Fairfield Stags.
It was a nail-biter for the Penn State fans in the audience watching their normally dominant team struggle to score against a stout Stags defense. With Mike Sutton’s deciding goal with 3:07 left on the clock and an equally stout Nittany Lion offense, however, Penn State fans have more than just another win to celebrate.
Penn State is now 8-0 on the season, the best start in program history.
“Taking it into perspective I just think there still needs to be a growth mindset,” Head Coach Jeff Tambroni said when asked what he felt of the achievement. “I think it’s more important for our guys to think less about the historical perspective, think more about what we can improve on our team right now.”
And there are multiple places that the Nittany Lions will look to improve as the year goes on.
Starting off the game, Fairfield took possession and held it for seven minutes straight before scoring. Penn State tied the game quickly after gaining possession and then failed to re-gain the ball as the Stags scored twice more to end the first quarter.
Penn State scored twice in the second quarter to tie it back up at three before allowing Fairfield to take the lead yet again. It wasn’t until there were less than two minutes left in the third quarter that Penn State took their first lead of game as, after trading scores to end up 5-5, Matt Florence and Nick Aponte scored to end the third quarter 7-5.
Heading into the fourth, the Nittany Lions finally seemed to be in rhythm. That was until Fairfield scored three in a row to re-take the lead 8-7. In the final eight minutes of the game Penn State held off the Fairfield offense and brought it back with Mike Sutton’s final hurrah.
Fairfield outplayed Penn State in nearly every category throughout the game. Luckily for Penn State, the only category the team won ended up playing a huge role in their win.
Penn State’s face-off specialist, Gerard Arceri, went 0-4 to start the game, but was brought back in and ended with 10-17 on face-offs and a goal. Arceri’s goal off the faceoff somehow managed to slip past Stag’s goalie Tyler Behring as Arceri was taken down from behind in front of goal to tie the game at eight.
“Gerard has been our guy since day one,” Coach Tambroni said. “We gave him a chance to kind of step back, take some face-offs over the halftime break, he came back and did a wonderful job of going back in there and battled us back into position.”
“I got off to a really slow start this game,” said Gerard Arceri. “My style of facing-off is figuring out my opponent and once I kind of know what the guy’s going to do it helps me get into a groove throughout the game and it really got me going in the second half.”
With only 17 goals in the game, it was Penn State’s season low score total and a lack of shots had nothing to do with it.
Fairfield’s goalie Tyler Behring and Penn State’s goalie Colby Kneese had excellent games in goal. Behring saved 14 shots and kept the NCAA’s leading scorer Mac O’Keefe to only one goal in the game. Kneese made 12 saves including a couple key stops in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Nittany Lion’s will try to continue their undefeated season on Saturday, March 25th at noon as Cleveland State comes to State College.
Tommy Butler is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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