During Penn State’s historic 2019 lacrosse season that saw them reach the Final Four for the first time in school history, the team only lost twice. Both of those losses came at the hands of Yale, a team that has become the latest monkey for Jeff Tambroni’s team to try and get off their backs. Behind a raucous crowd at Panzer Stadium, feeding off the energy of THON going on in the Bryce Jordan Center just up the hill, the Nittany Lions sought to exorcise the demons and remain undefeated in the young season.
Yale opened up the scoring just 28 seconds in, after Ierlan won the face-off for Yale. PSU would answer a few minutes later when Mac O’Keefe stole the ball deep in Yale territory and found himself in a one-on-one battle with the Yale goalie, which he easily won.
The rest of the first quarter would see a battle of the goalies, as both PSU’s Colby Kneese as well as Yale’s Brody Wilson racked up their share of saves. However, Yale would regain the lead with a goal with about a minute left in the quarter. The second quarter saw more of the same defensive struggles before Yale went on a scoring barrage, going up 6-1 midway through the second quarter, thanks to some great shooting, and TD Ierlan dominating the face-offs over Gerard Arceri.
Mac O’Keefe had something to say though, stopping the bleeding with a brilliant spin-move goal. This was followed by Patrick Kelly scoring to cut the deficit to 6-3 and give the Nittany Lions a bit of momentum going into halftime.
The third quarter saw Yale score first, but PSU would gradually cut into the deficit, as Dylan Foulds, TJ Malone, and Grant Ament each added goals to make it a one-goal game and get the “Panzemonium” student section fired up again. Yale would score to momentarily quiet the crowd and give the Bulldogs an 8-6 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The final 15 minutes of action saw PSU cut the deficit to 8-7 on a Jack Traynor goal. The Lions then seemingly tied the game up with an Ament goal, but it was waived off due to a crease violation. Yale subsequently would respond with a goal of their own to go back up 9-7, followed by a goal just after the face-off to make it 10-7. Jack Kelly would add another goal for PSU to cut the PSU deficit to two goals, but Yale would add on a couple more goals to build a 12-8 lead with less than four minutes to play.
Never being a team to say “die” though, PSU put on a furious comeback attempt, with TJ Malone and Kelly scoring to cut the deficit to 12-10 with 37 seconds left. Arceri would win the face-off and raced directly towards the Yale goal, but his shot hit the ground and bounced over, in what ended up being PSU’s last gasp, as the team suffered their first loss of the season.
This now marks the third straight defeat at the hands of Yale, and as long as Ierlan remains their face-off guy, it’s clear that PSU is never going to win the face-offs battle against the Bulldogs. What really spelled a problem though, was playing a solid defensive game with Colby Kneese coming up with 16 saves and PSU forcing over a dozen turnovers, but failing to take advantage, and allowing themselves to get into a five-goal deficit that we know is insurmountable against a team like Yale. Overcoming such issues will remain the greatest challenge facing Jeff Tambroni and his staff going forward.
PSU (3-1) will hit the road to Philly when they take on Penn next Saturday at 1:00 PM ET.