Perhaps, you can blame it on the rain. Or perhaps, you can blame it on pre-game jitters from realizing what a historic moment this was for the Penn State men’s lacrosse team, playing as the top seed in the friendly confines of Panzer Stadium with a couple thousand devoted fans showing up to potentially witness history in the making. I’m talking of course, about getting a win in a tournament where the Nittany Lions had never won a game in the program’s century-plus years of existence.
Either way, the game did not start out as one would hope: For the first couple of minutes, UMBC held the Penn State offensive attack in check, while UMBC’s Ryan Hawley scored the game’s first goal give the Retrievers an early 1-0 lead, potentially sparking a slew of “UMBC topples the No. 1 seed” jokes.
Turns out, that was all it took to light the spark that ignited a Penn State offensive explosion, as the Nittany Lions rattled off four quick goals over the next couple of minutes to take a 4-1 lead. While UMBC would hang tough by only trailing PSU 7-4 at the end of the first quarter, thanks to Hawley’s hat trick, there was no stopping the offensive juggernaut that was Jack Kelly (6 goals), Mac O’Keefe (also 6 goals), Dylan Foulds (4 goals), and Grant Ament (3 goals, and 5 assists) as PSU would go on an 8-0 run to jump out to a 15-4 lead before UMBC scored a couple of goals right before the end of the half.
The second half showed zero signs of slowing down from PSU’s offense, as the Nittany Lions once again went on a huge run, outscoring UMBC 9-1 to balloon their lead to as large as 24-7 when the dogs were finally called off. UMBC would tack on a few more goals late in the fourth quarter to make the final score a tad less embarrassing but when it was all said and done, the Nittany Lions had made program history in dominating fashion.
Time of possession really played a key in this victory, as PSU won 34 of the 38 total faceoffs (including 22 of the first 23), in which Gerard Arceri deserves the utmost of respect for. This in part, allowed PSU to have an astounding 43-to-28 shot advantage on the Retrievers, despite PSU committing 20 turnovers. The team’s 25 goals were the third-highest in a single game in program history, with a new school record being set in a 27-10 win over Robert Morris in the season opener. 10 different Nittany Lion players scored in this contest, which showed a true spreading of the scoring wealth and showcases why this is the most feared offensive attack in college lacrosse.
Jeff Tambroni’s squad will travel to East Hartford, CT for a quarterfinals matchup against the No. 8 seed Loyola (MD). The Greyhounds, led by their senior attackman and newly-minted NCAA assists record-holder Pat Spencer, put on a furious rally in the second half to get past Syracuse in their first round matchup, 15-13. That game will be televised next Sunday (May 19th) on ESPNU at either Noon or 2:30 PM ET.