Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse dropped a hard fought overtime decision to Michigan Saturday afternoon to end the regular season. The Wolverines scored the game winning goal 58 seconds into the overtime period, winning 10-9.
Postgame, coach Jeff Tambroni felt the team never settled into a steady rhythm, unable recover from a slow start in the first half. Instead, it was the Wolverines who took advantage from the first whistle.
"Every time we started to build momentum we were our own worst critics," Tambroni said. "We were the ones stopping the momentum. We just did so many things today that created an imbalance of flow and just couldn't get out of it."
The Nittany Lions ended the challenging first half trailing 5-3, but were able to turn things around to start the second half. Penn State managed to keep the Wolverines scoreless in third quarter, finding the back of the net four times to move ahead, 7-3.
The defense struggled in the first half, allowing multiple turnovers and failing to get the ball to the offensive end. In the third quarter, the offense took advantage of more opportunities with the ball.
"In the beginning of the game we had a really hard time clearing the ball," junior redshirt defenseman Mike Aronow said. "I thought we came out in the second half and had more of an urgency getting out of our defensive end."
While the Nittany Lions and the Wolverines kept the score close in the fourth quarter, it was sophomore Mac O'Keefe who found the back of the net with just 40 seconds left in the game to put Penn State up 9-8. The celebration was short-lived when Michigan sophomore Decker Curran scored no more than 20 seconds later to tie up the game and send it into overtime.
As the Nittany Lions have found themselves in overtime situations before throughout the season, Tambroni put his faith in his team and its ability to execute.
It was Curran again who found the back of the net to end the game.
"We wanted to go man-to-man, we believe in our people and I thought our guys did a really good job of that," Tambroni said. "They just made a play, unfortunately it was just a poor result for us."
Although the Nittany Lions didn't get the result they wanted to finish the regular season, Tambroni found comfort in the way his team battled through adversity in the first half to come back strong in the second half.
Despite the final score, the coaching staff was proud of the determination.
"I thought we fought back after playing so miserably in the first [half]," Tambroni said. "There's a lot of great kids on that sideline and the seniors have done so much for our team. I'm sorry for them because it was a culture changing year for us but it just didn't live through the success of the last couple games of the season."
The Nittany Lions will now wait to find out their postseason fate, which is determined based on the winner of the Ohio State, Rutgers game Saturday evening.
"I've seen a lot of good lacrosse out of this group so I know it's there even though it hasn't shown in the last couple games," Tambroni said. "With good leadership and a little luck, we'll live another day."