EAST HARTFORD, Conn. – The No. 1 Penn State men’s lacrosse team took down No. 8 Loyola Maryland, 21-14, in the NCAA Quarterfinal on Saturday afternoon on Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, to advance to NCAA Championship Weekend for the first time in program history.
O’Keefe tied the NCAA Tournament single-game record with nine goals, setting a new personal best in the process. O’Keefe is now up to 75 goals on the season, moving him to third all-time in NCAA DI history, trailing Jon Reese (Yale, 1990) and Miles Thompson (UAlbany, 2014) who both have 82 in 18 games.
Ament finished the game with nine points on one goal and eight assists. The eight assists give him 91 for the season, becoming the first Division I player in NCAA history to surpass 90-plus assists, and is just two off the all-division all-time NCAA record of 93 set by Matt Richard (New England College, 2018).
Through the first, the two teams battled back and forth.
Penn State jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but from there, Loyola managed long possessions, eventually wearing down the defense to even it up at 3-all. The Greyhounds took a 6-5 advantage after the first quarter of action.
The Nittany Lions used an explosive 9-1 second quarter to jump out to a 14-7 lead at the half.
Loyola countered in the third quarter, out-scoring the Blue and White, 7-3, but a two-minute locked-in penalty by the Greyhounds to close out the third quarter gave the Nittany Lions an extra man opportunity to open the final quarter.
Penn State would score four goals in the final quarter of action and would hold the Greyhounds scoreless over the final 17 minutes of action.
The Nittany Lions saw Jack Kelly add five points on the afternoon with four goals and an assist, while Nick Spillane finished with one goal and three assists, along with a huge fourth quarter caused turnover. Sophomores Cole Willard and Brian Townsend each scored two goals, with Willard adding one assist as well. Defenseman Nick Cardile added an assist on the afternoon.
On defense, Tommy Wright, Brayden Peck, Chris Sabia and Spillane all added caused turnovers, while Cardile scooped up a career-best five ground balls. Long stick middie Kevin Fox also recorded a career-high for ground balls with four.
On the face-off, after opening the first quarter at a 6-4 deficit at the ‘x,’ junior face-off specialist Gerard Arceri won 18 face-offs to Loyola’s eight in the final three quarters. He finished the game with 22 wins and 13 groundballs.
In cage, junior Colby Kneese finished with 12 saves, two groundballs and the win.
With 25 goals in the first round game versus UMBC and 21 in the win over Loyola, Penn State became the first team to score 20-plus goals in back-to-back NCAA Tournament games since Syracuse in 1990.
Penn State will play in the NCAA Semifinal on Saturday, May 25, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia against Yale.