Despite the magical and record-breaking seasons of this year’s men’s (12-3, 3-2) and women’s (15-3, 5-1) lacrosse teams, there have been some bumps along the way. The Big Ten Semifinals were no exception as the two teams struggled against No. 1 Maryland and No. 3 Northwestern, respectively.
Maryland scored the first two goals in the game, with freshman Mac O’Keefe (Syosset, N.Y.) notching Penn State’s lone goal of the first quarter. Maryland scored once more before the second.
With both teams playing their best defense, Penn State was held to its lone goal as Maryland picked up just one more to add to their tally. The Lions headed into the locker room at halftime trailing the Terps 4-1.
After the Terps scored yet again in the opening minutes of the third, Kevin Hill (Webster, N.Y.) collected a goal for Penn State while Nick Aponte (West Islip, N.Y.) assisted O’Keefe on his second of the day to bring Penn State within two of a tie. A penalty against Maryland gave Penn State the man-up and they used it to their advantage. Dan Craig (Shelburne, Ontario) added a third goal to bring the Lions close to evening out the score. Maryland then came back in the final moments of the quarter and scored two quick goals, leaving the third quarter tally at 7-4.
Another Maryland goal at the start of the fourth prompted Aponte to hurdle towards the goal and clinch a goal for the Blue and White. Hill worked the Terps’ defense yet again and scored to bring the Lions within two goals, but the clock ran out, leaving the Lions in defeat with a score of 8-6.
The men’s team will host No. 13 Towson this Saturday at noon to begin their NCAA Tournament. Stop by to cheer on your Nittany Lions!
The No. 2 W. team also faced difficulty in their Big Ten Semifinal game, this time against No. 3 Northwestern.
The Wildcats opened the game with a goal that was returned by senior Steph Lazo (Stevensville, Md.). Northwestern quickly responded with goals of their own, but Penn State was hot on their heels and Shelby Wells (Timonium, Md.) and Taylor Bleistein (Bayville, N.Y.) evened out the score with two goals.
Northwestern scored two more, but junior superstar Katie O’Donnell (West Chester, Pa.) added the final goal of the half to send the Lions into the locker room trailing 7-6.
After a 90-minute rain delay, the teams came out ready to play the second half.
Kayla Brisolari (Crofton, Md.) and freshman Maggie Gallagher (Bel Air, Md.) each secured a goal early on in the second. Northwestern responded, but Bleistein kept the Lions in the game with another goal of her own.
An assist from O’Donnell gave Gallagher another goal to tie the game at 11-11, but it was not quite enough as the Wildcats were able to split the Penn State defense and find the back of the net for a 12-11 Northwestern win.
Goalie Cat Rainone (Newtown Square, Pa.) made multiple key saves and saved 11 shots total for the Lions.
The women are now the No. 4 seed for the NCAA Tournament and will face the winner of the James Madison/Louisville game. The Penn State vs. JMU/Louisville winner game will occur on Sunday, May 14 with time and location TBD.
Good luck to both teams as they head into the NCAA Tournament!