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Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Beats Johns Hopkins 18-17 In Big Ten Championship Game

on May 04, 2019 10:53 PM

No. 1 Penn State men’s lacrosse (14-1, 6-0 Big Ten) wrapped up its first-ever Big Ten title with an 18-17 victory over No. 15 Johns Hopkins (8-6, 4-2 Big Ten) on Saturday night.

The first overtime Big Ten title game in conference history ended with pure joy for the Nittany Lions after Mac O’Keefe’s conference-winning snipe less than two minutes into the extra frame. Grant Ament set the NCAA record for assists in a season with four helpers tonight, and O’Keefe’s eight-point effort set a new record for the Big Ten’s championship game.

Goalkeeper Colby Kneese made 13 saves in the victory.

How It Happened

Johns Hopkins struck first at HighPoint.com Stadium, but Penn State’s lethal attack blitzed the Blue Jay defense for three unanswered in the first three minutes of the contest.

TJ Malone scored his 28th of the season just 31 seconds after Hopkins’ opener, and Mac O’Keefe rifled a shot past the Blue Jays’ goalkeeper to give Penn State a 2-1 lead. Kevin Fox was left wide open in front of goal for a slam dunk to extend the lead to two 54 seconds after Malone’s opener.

O’Keefe scored his second of the game with 10:05 left in the first quarter in highlight-reel fashion. He burned his defender with a nice head-fake before driving to the goal and putting a diving shot past the keeper.

Hopkins responded with five straight of its own late in the first quarter to gain a 6-4 advantage after 15 minutes of play. Penn State stopped the bleeding with a man-up goal to start the second quarter. Dylan Foulds’ 30th tally of the season came after Blue Jay captain Kyle Marr took a delay of game penalty.

Penn State tied the game at 6-6 through Jack Kelly’s 29th of the year, but Johns Hopkins re-took the lead within 48 seconds. However, another Blue Jay penalty led to O’Keefe completing his hat trick on the man advantage. Special teams continued to be the story of the second quarter when Johns Hopkins’ Alex Concannon scored following a Nick Cardile interference penalty.

The teams traded goals for the remainder of the second quarter, but three straight from the Blue Jays gave them an 11-8 lead after the first half. Penn State came out of the gates with three unanswered goals to start the third quarter before taking a 12-11 lead on the man advantage.

Johns Hopkins called a timeout after Cole Willard took a hit and wired a shot past the goalkeeper. Penn State took a 13-11 lead with 10 minutes left in the third following a highlight-reel assist from O’Keefe. Hopkins stopped the bleeding on the man advantage after winning the ensuing faceoff and drawing a penalty to trim its deficit to 13-12.

Penn State’s defense began to bear down as the third quarter progressed, and Jack Kelly rewarded that effort with a crucial man-up goal. His 30th of the season re-extended the Nittany Lions’ lead to two goals, but the Blue Jays responded late to set up a 14-13 ballgame entering the final 15 minutes of play.

TJ Malone got the goal-scoring started less than three minutes into the final stanza of the game, but Johns Hopkins quickly answered with a goal of its own. However, Grant Ament fought off a defender and scored a beauty with 9:44 to play as Penn State restored its two-goal advantage.

The Nittany Lions’ defense committed two fouls on one Blue Jay possession midway through the fourth, which led to Johns Hopkins’ 15th goal of the game and a one-goal lead for Penn State. However, Dylan Foulds responded in spectacular fashion by posting a behind-the-back score with 5:00 left in the fourth.

Johns Hopkins found the back of the net twice in the final minute of the game to force sudden death overtime, and Mac O’Keefe ended it with a lethal snipe 1:25 into the extra period.

Takeaways

  • Penn State dealt with genuine adversity tonight, which has been a rarity in its stellar 2019 season. Jeff Tambroni’s squad trailed at halftime for the first time since a loss to Yale, but it rallied to outscore the Blue Jays 7-2 in the second half.
  • Grant Ament and Mac O’Keefe are a special, special duo on attack. Ament set the NCAA’s record for assists in a single season with 78, and O’Keefe set the Big Ten championship game record with eight points, many of which came as the result of phenomenal behind-the-back plays, and the game-winner.
  • With tonight’s victory, Penn State is all but guaranteed to be the top overall seed in this year’s NCAA tournament. That’s a testament to just how spectacular this season was for Tambroni’s men, who should be heavy favorites to take home the national title.

What’s Next

Penn State awaits its NCAA tournament destination. The first round of the tournament will get started on Saturday, May 11.

 

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