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March 26, 2016
DALLAS -- Penn State men's lacrosse (6-3)put an end to a 20-game Denver winning streak, upsetting the top-ranked Pioneers (7-1), 15-10, to capture the 2016 Patriot Cup at SMU's Gerald Ford Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Junior Dan Craig and sophomore Ryan Keenan powered a group of five Nittany Lions with multi-goal outings, scoring a pair of hat tricks. Senior TJ Sanders, redshirt junior Matt Florence and freshman Grant Ament rounded out a group of five multi-goal scorers with two goals apiece.
Junior Nick Aponte, Sanders, Hill and Keenan all added two assists each to lead the team.
Penn State out-shot the Pioneers 33-26, putting 23 shots on goal to Denver's 16. Penn State also won the ground ball battle, 31-27 as Billy Lombardi finished 13-for-28 from the faceoff "x." Freshman Kevin Fox, senior James Burke, sophomore Chris Isenberg and sophomore goalie Will Schreiner logged three ground balls each. Schreiner also improved to 6-3 on the year, posting six saves.
"I think there are two sides to this, number one is just being very proud of the way our guys prepared coming out of last week's disappointing loss and just preparing the way they did showed great resiliency this week and great discipline throughout the course of today," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "But there is another side of perspective to this and that's our guys and our team needs to keep coming out of this, it was a week ago we lost one game and now we're coming off a very exciting win."
Prestreau opened the scoring for the Nittany Lions, putting his second straight man-up goal of the season in to the net to give Penn State an early lead, 1-0, with 12:58 left in the first quarter. The Pioneers answered back with a 3-0 streak to take over a two-goal lead, 3-1, with less than four minutes remaining in the frame. Sanders broke up the stretch with his first goal of the afternoon with 29 seconds left quarter to keep PSU within one, 3-2.
The Nittany Lions used back-to-back goals from Florence and Sanders in the second quarter, separated by just over a minute to go back up, 4-3. Denver looked to halt the run with a goal to even the score, 4-4, with 12:03 remaining in the first half. The Nittany Lions responded a 3-0 spurt featuring goals from Keenan, Craig and Hill to pull ahead by three, 7-4. The Pioneers followed with two goals in between one from Craig to arrive within two, 8-6 heading into the intermission.
Penn State used a dominating 4-1 stretch in the third quarter with two goals from Keenan and one from Ament and Craig to take control of a five-goal lead, 12-7 heading into the final stanza. The Nittany Lions also went 6-for-6 from the faceoff "x" in the third frame.
The Nittany Lions continued the momentum into the fourth quarter, as Florence, Sutton and Ament all scored unassisted to bolster the advantage to as many as eight, 15-7, with 4:13 remaining in the game. Denver looked to mount a comeback with three consecutive goals in the last four minutes of play, but Penn State held off the Pioneers to complete the upset.
Penn State remains on the road next week, traveling to Ohio State to open Big Ten conference play. The Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes will square off Sunday, April 3 at noon on ESPNU.
NOTES: Penn State's win marks its first victory over a ranked opponent in program history and first under head coach Jeff Tambroni ... The win is also the first win over a USILA top 5 team since February 22, 2014 when The Nittany Lions defeated fourth-ranked Notre Dame on the road, 8-7. Penn State also snapped Denver's national-best 20-game winning streak that spanned more than a year ... Ryan Keenan and Dan Craig both notched their first hat tricks of the season ... With two assists, Nick Aponte has now recorded at least one point in each of the last 27 consecutive games, dating back to April 5, 2014 ... The Nittany Lions are now 3-6 all-time against Denver, having earned their first win against the Pioneers since 2013 ... Penn State also improves to 3-0 on the year against ranked opponents and 5-0 when scoring 10 or more goals against a team.