Maryland men’s lacrosse lost its first game of the Big Ten slate on Sunday night, falling to No. 1 Penn State 13-10 at Maryland Stadium.
The Terps fell behind in the first, allowing Penn State to rattle off eight goals in the first 15 minutes. Maryland’s defense eventually found its footing, holding Penn State scoreless for most of the second and third quarters. Good defense led to production on offense as Maryland slowly crawled back into it, cutting the lead to as small as one at one point. But Penn State’s offense got their groove back in the fourth quarter, scoring three goals in the quarter to stave off the Terp comeback attempt.
Penn State was led by the nation’s leading scorer, Mac O’Keefe, who had two goals and two assists, while sophomore Jack Kelly had three goals and an assist. Jared Bernhardt recorded a hat trick to lead the Maryland scoring effort, and Roman Puglise scored a career-high two goals.
Austin Henningsen wasn’t able to get the best of Penn State’s Gerard Aceri at the X, going just 7-of-21 on faceoffs with Justin Shockey going 0-for-2. A lack of production from the faceoff group contributed to Maryland losing the ground-ball battle as well, as the Lions were able to outscoop the Terps 31-27 by the end of this one.
It didn’t take much time at all for Penn State’s offense to get going, scoring on its first possession of the game to put immediate pressure on the Terps to respond. Will Snider was able to equalize a minute later, but unforced turnovers let Penn State build up a four-goal lead early. The Nittany Lions continued to add to their lead thanks to stifling play on the defensive end, followed by goal after goal on consecutive possessions. By the end of the first quarter, the lead had ballooned to seven, with the score at 8-1.
The second quarter was more stagnant than the first, with the Terps’ defense tightening up a bit to slow down the Penn State attack, but Maryland’s offense still struggling to even get shots on goal. A few big saves from Danny Dolan halted Penn State from growing the lead any further, while goals from Dubick and Bernhardt just before the end of the half helped cut Penn State’s lead to 8-3 entering the break.
The Terps continued trying to fight their way back into this one, slowly but surely taking each possession at a time to try and cut into that deficit. It would seem the goals just before the end of the first half helped wake up the attack, as goals from Bernhardt, Bubba Fairman and Roman Puglise trimmed Penn State’s lead to 8-7. Dolan and Maryland’s defense stepped up as well, holding Penn State scoreless for over 25 minutes of play. Although the Terps got themselves back in the game, two late goals in the period for Penn State stretched the lead back to three, with the score being 10-7 going into the fourth.
The two sides traded goals early on in the fourth, which wasn’t what Maryland needed trying to get back into this game. But Henningsen being unable to cleanly win off the draw gave Penn State the possessions they needed to slow the game down and take the energy out of Maryland’s comeback effort. The Terps continued fighting late into the game, but ultimately Penn State won the game, 13-9.
Maryland hosts Michigan next Saturday.
Three things to know
1. Penn State played great defensively. Known around college lacrosse as the top offense in the country, Penn State did a fantastic job shutting down a Maryland offense that’s not too shabby itself. The Nittany Lions held Logan Wisnauskas to just a a goal and an assist, while holding all Maryland players other than Bernhardt to no more than a goal.
2. Maryland held the top offense in lacrosse scoreless for 28 minutes. Regardless of the outcome of this game, Maryland has to feel good about holding an offense that averages 18 goals per game to just 13 in Sunday’s contest after allowing eight after the first quarter. Keeping this Penn State offense scoreless for nearly two quarters is not an easy thing to do, but the defense showed up after the rough first quarter.
3. This is (debatably) Maryland’s first loss to Penn State in lacrosse ... ever. Maryland claimed to enter this game with a 36-0 record over the Nittany Lions, while Penn State had the all-time series at 40-2 (counting matchups from the 1920s). Either way, Penn State has quickly grown into one of the stronger programs in the country and ought to give Maryland problems for years to come.