The No. 9 Penn State men’s lacrosse team opened the 2019 season with a 17-7 win over Villanova on Saturday afternoon in Holuba Hall.
Penn State saw redshirt junior Grant Ament and junior Colby Kneese have career performances, while 11 different Nittany Lions recorded points for the Blue & White.
Ament, who was sidelined for all of 2018, made a triumphant return as the attackman recorded a career-best 10 points by tallying three goals and a career-high seven assists.
Kneese was a stalwart for the Nittany Lions in the cage recording a career-best 19 saves and only allowing four goals in 53:04.
The Nittany Lions opened up the game on a 3-0 tear with Ament recording three points, assisting on goals by Dylan Foulds and TJ Malone, and scoring a goal of his own off a Jack Kelly assist. Villanova answered with two unanswered goals, but again, Ament found Foulds for their second combination of the day to take a 4-2 lead. Senior Nick Spillane would get one on his own to close out the opening period with the Nittany Lions leading 5-2.
Ament found Mac O’Keefe to open up the second quarter, increasing the Penn State lead to 6-2, before the Wildcats added on another. The Nittany Lions closed out the second quarter with two Ament goals to go into the halftime break with an 8-3 lead.
Through the first half, Colby Kneese had 10 saves.
The third quarter opened with a flurry of Penn State goals. At the 12-minute mark, Penn State took possession on a man-up opportunity and Ament found Kevin Hill for the strike at 11:57. Off the ensuing face-off, the Nittany Lions won the possession, and Dan Reaume threw the pass to Ament, who flicked it back to Reaume who was streaking towards the goal for the score at 11:47, just 10 seconds off the face. On the following face-off, Villanova won the possession and brought the back behind their own restraing line. On the Wildcats attempt to clear the ball, O’Keefe cut off the pass and charged toward the Villanova goal for the score at 11:26. Less than a minute later, O’Keefe would find TJ Malone for the score to give the Nittany Lions a 12-3 lead. Villanova would get a goal back to make it 12-4, but the quarter would close out with another Nick Spillane goal and Ament finding Foulds to take a 14-4 lead into the final quarter.
Off the opening face of the final quarter, Gerard Arceri, who went 14-16 on the face with nine groundballs, would streak towards the goal to get his first of the season just 15 seconds into the action. A Cole Willard goal and a goal from Malone off the assist from Joe White would wrap up the scoring for the Nittany Lions, and the guests would add three on to close out the game, giving the home squad a 17-7 victory.
Ament, Foulds and Malone all registered hat-tricks, while O’Keefe finished with four points on two goals and two assists.
Defensively, TJ Connellan and Nick Cardile each recorded two caused turnovers, while Brayden Peck and Chris Sabia each tallied one.
The Nittany Lions return to action on Saturday, February 9 at 11 a.m. as they host Robert Morris.