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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a five-point outing from senior captain Nick Aponte, the third-ranked Penn State men's lacrosse team (6-0) withstood a late surge from the Furman Paladins (1-6), holding on to win, 12-10, at the Penn State Lacrosse Field on Tuesday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions led by six with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, before Furman scored five unanswered to make it a one-goal game with 4:43 to go in the fourth quarter. With 44 seconds remaining in the game, junior midfielder Ryan Keenan spun away from his defender and buried the ball in the right side of the net to ice the game.
Aponte, who registered a game-high five points on a goal and four assists, logged his 100th career point assisting on Penn State's first goal of the game.
The midfield again provided the majority of Penn State's scoring, with senior Dan Craig and sophomore Kevin Hill and reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week Nick Spillane each logging a pair of goals in the outing.
Attackmen Grant Ament and Mac O'Keefe continued to contribute on the offensive end as well. Ament extended his point streak to 21-straight games, while O'Keefe logged a goal. The freshman has scored at least once in every game so far with a nation's-best 26 goals through six games this season.
Freshman Gerard Arceri and senior Billy Lombardi split the faceoff duties for the Nittany Lions, going a combined 17-of-25 at the faceoff `x'. Each scooped four groundballs, being two of the four players with four to lead Penn State. In the cage, Colby Kneese made eight stops, including a critical one late in the game that led to Keenan's insurance goal.
Penn State returns to action on Saturday, March 11, as the team faces undefeated Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at noon.
The Turning Point
With Furman on a 5-0 run, it felt that the Paladins had the momentum late in the fourth quarter with one score separating the game. With 44 seconds left on the clock Keenan shook his defender before dumping in the insurance goal for the Nittany Lions win.
- Nick Aponte - The senior captain led the team in points, dishing the ball out with four assists while scoring a goal of his own in the win.
- Dan Craig - Craig put up a season-best pair of goals in the win, serving as a scoring threat from the midfield while converting on half of his shots.
- Ryan Keenan - Keenan found the back of the net when it mattered the most, scoring the final goal to put the game out of reach for Furman.
- Billy Lombardi - When rookie faceoff man Gerard Arceri went 7-of-12 from the faceoff `x', the coaching staff chose Lombardi to serve as the faceoff man for the rest of the day. Lombardi answered the call, going 10-of-13 at the `x'.
- Lou Yovino - The Paladins midfielder scored a game-high three goals, including one in Furman's threatening 5-0 run.
- Isolation offense - Furman scored nearly half of its goals without an assist, with players frequently dodging to find the back of the net.
Penn State never trailed in 60 minutes with the Paladins, as Mac O'Keefe opened scoring for the game just over two minutes into the game. Aponte fed him the ball, good for his 100th career point. Furman's Stephen Wierzbicki responded at the 10:30 mark with a goal of his own. With 8:33 to go Aponte scored his lone goal of the fame. Spillane buried his 12th of goal of the season with 6:36 left in the first before the two offenses stalled for the remainder of the quarter.
Penn State 3, Furman 1
Furman scored once in the second before Penn State rattled off four-straight goals for a 7-2 lead. Florence was the first to score in the run, working off a pass from Ament. Aponte connected with Spillane for the second time of the day for a 5-2 lead. 11 seconds later McEvoy found the back of the net after scooping up the loose ball in the Penn State faceoff win. Sutton fired one home thanks to a crafty pass from Florence to round out the PSU run. Yovino tallied a goal for Furman with 2:16 left in the quarter for a four-goal Penn State advantage at the break.
Penn State 7, Furman 3
Craig scored two of the first three goals to open the second half. Spillane found Craig, who ripped the shot home from five yards out. The lefty senior responded after a Furman goal, shooting from low to high off a feed from Keenan for a 9-5 Penn State edge. A toe-drag led to a bounce shot from Hill to make the score 10-5. The sophomore midfielder then put away what would be the game-winner with a man-up goal. Penn State's lead was cut to five with seven seconds left on the clock, marking the beginning of Furman's run.
Penn State 11, Furman 6
The Paladins controlled the next 11 minutes, scoring four times over the span. The team's final two goals were unassisted before PSU responded with 44 seconds left to go. Keenan eluded the defender before scoring the insurance goal to secure the victory.
Penn State 12, Furman 10