UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2013 Penn State men's lacrosse season came to an end on Saturday in the NCAA First Round in a 10-7 loss to Yale at Penn State Lacrosse Field. The Bulldogs utilized a 9-1 run in the second half to overcome Penn State's four-goal halftime lead. TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) led PSU's offense with two goals, while Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) saved 14 shots, his fifth game of the season with at least 14 saves.
"[Yale] has great leadership," Head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "[The Bulldogs] believed in themselves and believed in their systems and they should do very well in this tournament. For our guys, I feel a sense of pride for our seniors, our captains in particular, Jack and Travis, and what a wonderful job they did this year of bringing Penn State to new heights."
Penn State's season ends with the most wins by a single team (12), most consecutive wins in a season (10) and most games played (17). The Nittany Lions also hosted their first NCAA Tournament game, which was in front of 951 fans, the third largest crowd in the two-year history of Penn State Lacrosse Field. Additionally, the Nittany Lions posted their first perfect conference season (6-0CAA) and advanced to their first conference title game last week.
The Nittany Lions, looking for their first NCAA Tournament victory, raced out to a 5-1 halftime lead behind discipline shooting, a perfect faceoff game and outstanding goaltending.
Penn State scored five straight goals from Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.), Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.), Gavin Ahern (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and Sanders. Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) won all seven faceoffs and Kaut stopped seven shots while only allowing one goal.
Nevertheless, the tide shifted in the third quarter as Yale (12-4) took the momentum and advanced in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1992. Yale out-shot Penn State 23-15 in the second half, while winning the ground ball war 25-16. Also the faceoff game turned to Yale won seven of 11 draws during the second-half run. Colin Flaherty scored three goals and Conrad Oberback tallied three points on two goals and an assist to lead the Bulldog offense.
Yale's Harry Kucharczyk opened the scoring 3:20 into the contest for an early 1-0 lead. Forster tallied his lone goal of the day with 3:37 remaining in the first to even the score and move into a tie for second all-time at Penn State. Forster's 57 points were the most scored by a Penn State player since 1995 (Erik Merkel, 61).
Less than 20 seconds later, Penn State tallied a man-up goal as Sturgis gave the Lions a 2-1 lead. PSU drew another penalty at the end of the first quarter and capitalized eight seconds into the second period as Ahern beat Yale goalie Eric Natale (10 saves) top shelf on a feed from Pat Manley (Arnold, Md.). Penn State went 2-for-3 on the man-up.
The Nittany Lion run continued four minutes later as Dolik slotted home his 10th of the year for a 4-1 advantage. A minute later, Sanders took a pass from Sturgis, dodged his defender and beat Natale on the near post for Penn State's 5-1 lead. PSU out-shot the Bulldogs 21-11 in the first half and picked up 20 ground balls to Yale's eight. The second quarter was especially dominant as the Lions led in shots (14-4), ground balls (10-2) and faceoff wins (3-0).
Yale's comeback started with a man-up goal from John-Willi McGovern and an even-strength goal from Oberbeck with 10:33 remaining in the third. Senior midfielder Drew Roper (Columbus, Ohio) struck for his second goal of the year as Penn State led 6-3 with 5:36 to go in the third. Kyle VanThof (Penfield, N.Y.) picked up the assist on Roper's goal.
Flaherty tallied back-to-back markers at 4:39 and 3:40 to go to cut PSU's lead to 6-5. The onslaught continued into the fourth as Ryan McCarthy evened the score at six apiece with 12:59 remaining.
Yale's momentum seemed to be kicked into overdrive as the Nittany Lions took two penalties a minute later. Tyler Travis (Geneva, N.Y.) picked off a Yale pass to kill off the double extra-man opportunity with 11:36 remaining.
The Nittany Lions nearly took the lead with 10:26 to go as Manley's long-ranged effort beat Natale but dinged the crossbar. Eventually, Yale's Michael Quinn forced a Penn State turnover as Michael McCormack sped downfield, fed Kirby Zdrill and the Bulldogs took a 7-6 lead.
Yale's offense kept rolling with leading scorer Brandon Mangan tallying his only goal of the game with 8:08 remaining as the Bulldogs earned an 8-6 advantage. The lead became 9-6 on an Oberbeck attack with 7:11 left.
Yale's defense held strong and Flaherty scored what was an essentially an empty-net goal as Kaut left the crease to defend with 1:46 to go. Penn State's Kessler Brown (Springfield, Va.) won the ensuing faceoff in his season's first appearance at the X. Sanders scored his second goal of the day with 1:13 remaining, his 44th of the year, which ranks fourth in program history. Penn State had two 40-goal scorers for the first time in school history with Sanders and Forster. Sanders ended the season one point shy of 50.
Brown would win the next faceoff as well but the Nittany Lions couldn't generate another goal as their 2013 season concluded. Yale moves on to face the Syracuse-Bryant winner in College Park, Md. on Saturday, May 18.
Penn State received strong defensive games from Travis (four ground balls, three caused turnovers) and Jack Donnelly (Toronto, Ont.), who scooped up two ground balls and caused three turnovers. Kaut picked up five ground ballsand Sanders picked up four, while James Burke (Duxbury, Mass.) tallied three ground balls and a caused turnover.
Henneghan collected a team-high seven ground balls, upping his career total to 226. Additionally, Henneghan became PSU's all-time faceoff wins leader with 510, passing 2006 grad Greg Gurenlian (508). Hennegan exits Happy Valley with a career 53.7 winning percentage at the faceoff dot.
Kaut's 14 saves bumped his season total to 194, a new career high and the most saves by a PSU netminder since 2009 (212, Drew Adams). Kaut moves into fifth all-time at Penn State with 539 stops. Kaut could make a run at the all-time saves mark set by Adams with 694.
--Penn State Athletic Communications
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