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Tigers pull away from Penn State in 4th quarter

Towson had a four-goal run and scored five of the last six goals of the game as they pulled away from Penn State to get back to the NCAA quarterfinals for a second straight season.

For a second straight season, the unseeded Towson men’s lacrosse team pulled off a big upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Towson went to seventh-ranked Penn State and pulled off a 12-8 victory over the Nittany Lions, a team that went 12-3 and was ranked No. 1 in the country for a time this year.

The Tigers will meet the winner of Sunday’s first round game between second-seeded Syracuse and Yale. The quarterfinals game will be played at Delaware Stadium in Newark, Delaware on Sunday, May 21.

Joe Seider scored four goals and had two assists while Ryan Drenner split his four points on scores and helpers. But it was the always stingy defense of the Tigers that slowed down a Penn State offense that ranked fifth in goals per game this year. The third-ranked Towson defense limited Penn State to only 11-for-15 on clears and outshot them 43-23 in the game.

The game saw a very slow, grinding pace early in the game and ended tied 1-1 after the first 15 minutes we played.

Mac O’Keefe opened the game’s scoring midway through the first quarter after Kevin Fox found him on the feed. It came just seconds after PSU goalkeeper Colby Kneese saved Drenner’s shot on the other end.

Penn State won the ensuing possession and looked to double their lead, but CAA Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Mayes caused a turnover by Nick Spillane. Gray Bodden scooped up the ball and after a minute of working the ball around in the box, Drenner was able to cash in on his next attempt at a score, tying the game with 4:37 left in the opening period after he cut around the crease and his shot clears his defender.

Towson did win the next faceoff and had an extra-man opportunity after Gerard Arceri was called offsides, but they couldn’t capitalize on the 30-second EMO. But Tigers goalkeeper Matt Hoy also kept things level with a save in the final minute of the first quarter.

Relatively speaking, things opened up in the second quarter with five combined goals. Penn State’s Nick Aponte scored the first two of the quarter, including a man-up goal after a one-minute slashing penalty called on Bodden.

But Towson responded with a man-up goal of their own five minutes later. Peter Triolo was called for a push and just before the penalty expired Seider scored his first goal of the game. It took another five minutes for Towson to level the score when Tyler Young scored off an assist by Mike Lynch.

Penn State wouldn’t allow the game to remain even at halftime. Just nine seconds later, they scored a go-ahead goal as Grant Ament cashed in on a faceoff violation. The Nittany Lions led 4-3 at halftime. To that point, their goalkeeper made nine saves to make up for Towson holding a 22-13 shot advantage in the first half. Kneese made another six saves for Penn State in the second half, but eventually, the possession advantage of the Tigers was too much for the Nittany Lions.

Towson scored three straight to open the third quarter and took a 6-4 lead with 5:57 left in the period. Tyler Konen scored first before Dylan Kinnear scored a man-up goal. Just seven seconds after that, Towson faceoff specialists Alex Woodall, who was 7-for-13 in the game and had to split duties with Connor Harryman while dealing with some injuries in the game, ran right up the middle of the field after a faceoff victory and scored his fifth goal of the year to give Towson the 6-4 lead. Harryman was forced to come into the game after Woodall’s goal and went 6-for-11 from the X.

Harryman did win the next faceoff, but Penn State’s Tommy Wright caused a turnover and O’Keefe scored from very close range to cut Towson’s lead down to one with 5:20 left in the third quarter. Still, even thought Towson was playing more even on the faceoffs without their dominant First Team All-CAA selection, a failed Penn State clear led to a scoring possession for the Tigers. Matt Wylly caused a turnover by Peter Triolo. Towson got the ball and a minute later Seider scored off a feed by Drenner to re-establish their two-goal lead at the end of the third quarter at 7-5.

Penn State still managed to tie the game with two goals scored by Ament inside the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, but Towson put things away with a four-goal run over a seven-minute span while shutting the Nittany Lions out for over 12 minutes.

Lynch scored the first two goals of the Towson run, including a man-up goal, while Drenner and Seider each scored. Seider completed the run when he scored with two minutes left to put the Tigers up 11-7. He then scored his fourth goal of the game with 28 seconds left, but the game was over by that point, even after O’Keefe netted his third goal of the game for Penn State with 1:47 left in the game.

Hoy finished with nine saves in the game while Mayes caused two of the team’s six turnovers.

Towson improved to 15-8 all-time against Penn State. It was the first time the two teams played since 2014 when Penn State joined the Big Ten and ended their run as a CAA affiliate member from 2010-2014. Towson is 2-0 all-time against the Nittany Lions in the NCAA Tournament, also holding an 11-6 victory over them in 2003.

Towson advanced to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinal for the sixth time in their program’s history and are now 4-3 in NCAA Tournament games under Shawn Nadelen. The senior class earned their 47th victory, the most victories by any class in the program’s history since joining Division I in 1980. The 1974 class had more collective wins at 50, including an NCAA Division II Championship.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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