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Yale 21, Penn State 17: It Was Fun While It Lasted

A historically successful season for Penn State men’s lacrosse came to an end in the semifinals.

It wasn’t the ending the numerous Penn State fans creating a sea of white (the team declared a “White Out”) in Philly’s Lincoln Financial Field hoped for. The No. 1 ranked Penn State squad with their top scoring offense in the country had a chance to exact revenge on a Yale team which handed them their only loss of the season. Instead, the Nittany Lions dug themselves a hole that was ultimately too deep for them to climb out from, despite their valiant efforts.

The first quarter was a Michael Bay-caliber epic disaster movie for PSU, as Yale led by their faceoff ace TD Ierlan, won faceoff after faceoff, and Yale converted the vast majority of the scoring opportunities into actual goals, thanks to some unusually poor defense from the Lions. Offensively, the Lions struggled to make the most of their rare possessions. Before anyone could blink, Yale had jumped out to a 10-1 advantage with the first quarter not even over.

Heading into the second quarter trailing 10-2, the Penn State lacrosse we had all come to know and love made its triumphant return, as a fatigued Ierlan began to find himself on the losing end of a few more faceoffs, as Jeff Tambroni opted to rotate several players in faceoffs. Mac O’Keefe, Dylan Foulds, Grant Ament, and even main faceoff man Gerard Arceri, began to find the back of the net, and by the time the game reached halftime, it was merely a three-goal lead for Yale at 12-9, and PSU having outscored the Elis 7-2 in the second quarter, seemingly had all the momentum going into the locker room. It felt as if it was just a matter of time before PSU would complete the come back and march forward towards a date in Monday’s national title game with Virginia.

Alas, Yale was able to keep the Nittany Lions at bay in the second half, never allowing PSU to get within closer than that three-goal halftime deficit. The biggest disappointment wasn’t that PSU failed to complete the come back, but more so that the fourth quarter felt very anti-climactic, considering the fact it was still a ballgame with Yale only leading 16-13 going into the final frame. A 4-0 run by the Elis though, and holding PSU scoreless until the final seven minutes of the quarter, put this one out of reach for the Nittany Lions. And with that, a storybook season had come to a close in what feels like a couple of chapters too soon.

Despite the tough loss today, there is still plenty to be proud of with this program. It was by far, the most successful season in the 98-year history of Penn State men’s lacrosse, one that saw them win their first two NCAA Tournament games, ever. More importantly, Nick Spillane is the only key player in this prolific offense who is graduating. Everybody else (Ament, O’Keefe, Foulds, even goalkeeper Colby Kneese) is back next season, which should see PSU earn a preseason No. 1 ranking (or very close to it). Surely, they will bring an attitude of having “unfinished business” to take care of in 2020, and the program as a whole still has a very bright future ahead of it.