Penn State rallies during fourth quarter to take down UMass 10-7
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Shane Sturgis tallied five points and No. 9 Penn State topped fourth-seeded UMass 10-7 on Wednesday at Penn State Lacrosse Field. PSU used a 5-0 run during the third and fourth quarters to overcome the Minutemen. The win was Penn State's 10th in a row and first in the postseason, advancing the Nittany Lions to the CAA final.
"I am very proud of our team's effort [Wednesday]. We knew we would have our hands full and I am proud of the way our team responded at halftime," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "These guys have fought through a ton of adversity all year and we are very fortunate to be playing in the CAA Championship."
Penn State's offense was led by Sturgis, who recorded four goals and an assist. Jack Forster and TJ Sanders tallied two goals each, while Tom LaCrosse added a goal and an assist and Kyle Zittel tacked on a goal. Austin Kaut finished with 11 saves on the day and improved his record to 12-3 for the season.
Penn State opened the scoring just 56 seconds into the game as LaCrosse notched his 23rd goal of the season, putting it past UMass goalie Zachary Oliveri (10 saves). Forster got the ball in front of the net a minute and a half later and bounced it past the UMass goalie to put Penn State up 2-0 2:23 into the contest.
UMass's Kyle Smith scored off of a feed from Will Manny to put it past Kaut with 9:12 left in the first quarter. Junior Steven Bogert caused a huge turnover midway through the first quarter as Penn State was in a man down situation for two minutes due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Jack Donnelly. Penn State went on to kill the penalty. PSU held UMass 0-for-3 on the man-up.
After several empty possessions by both teams to begin the second quarter, UMass's Grant Whiteway received a pass at the side of the net from Manny and his shot squeaked in between Kaut and the post to tie the game at two with 6:30 left. Less than two minutes later, Zittel scored his eighth goal of the season unassisted as he cut to the middle of the field and buried his shot top corner to give PSU the lead.
UMass ended the half with back-to-back goals from Manny and Connor Mooney and took its first lead of the game into the halftime locker room at 4-3. UMass dominated the faceoff circle in the first half, winning seven of nine faceoffs.
Penn State came out of the gate quickly as Sturgis notched his 21st and 22nd goals of the season to give Penn State a 5-4 lead with 8:55 left in the third quarter. Mooney rocketed a shot top shelf past Kaut to score his second goal of the game and even the game at five.
With 5:49 left in the third quarter, Whiteway gave UMass the lead with a diving bounce shot that found its way into the net to put the score at 6-5. Penn State had the equalizer as Sturgis made a shot fake and bounced it by UMass's Oliveri to give him a hat trick as Penn State and UMass entered the fourth quarter deadlocked at six.
Penn State continued the 5-0 run as Sturgis and Sanders scored two goals apiece with Forster adding another to change the momentum to put Penn State in control the whole fourth quarter. The Nittany Lions defense suffocated UMass in the second half, holding the Minutemen scoreless for a combined 16:38 from the third into the fourth quarter.
Forster tallied his 38th goal of the year and second of the game early in the fourth quarter to give Penn State the 7-6 lead. After UMass was penalized for its third faceoff violation, Gavin Ahern's shot was saved by Oliveri, but he left a rebound out and TJ Sanders picked up the loose ball and scored to put the Nittany Lions in front 8-6 just 35 seconds after Forster's goal.
Sturgis struck again as he recorded his fourth goal of the game to put Penn State up 9-6 with 9:28 left. Sanders kept the scoring rolling, notching his second of the game assisted from Sturgis for a 10-6 lead with 5:18 remaining.
UMass ended their scoring drought as Whiteway scored his third goal of the game to cut the lead down to three. This was the closest UMass came as the Nittany Lion defense shut the Minutemen down the rest of the game.