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Penn State Earns Berth to Inaugural B1G Tournament

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5-8, 1-4 Big Ten

5-8, 2-3 Big Ten



Saturday, April 25 (6 p.m.)
Michigan Stadium | Ann Arbor, Mich


Box Score (HTML) | Box Score (PDF)


ANN ARBOR, Mich.; April 25, 2015 - The Penn State men's lacrosse team held Michigan to one goal in the first half and staved off an attempted Wolverine comeback to beat Michigan 10-9 and advance to the inaugural Big Ten Tournament as the No. 4 seed.

The Nittany Lions will play Johns Hopkins (7-6, 4-1 Big Ten), who earned the No. 1 seed with a win over Maryland on Sunday, in the semifinal game on Thurs., April 30 at 5:30 p.m. in College Park, Md., the tournament site. Penn State enters the postseason with a two-game win streak in hand, posting a 2-3 record in Big Ten play and a 5-8 overall mark. The win was also the 500th in Penn State's 102-year history.

"I'm happy for our guys and I'm happy for our seniors," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "It's a terrific group of young men so I'm happy that we're going to have a chance to spend a little bit more time with them."

TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ontario) and Nick Aponte (West Islip, N.Y.) each recorded a hat trick and an assist to lead Penn State's attack against Michigan. Mike Sutton (Sewell, N.J.), Pat Manley (Arnold, Md.), Dan Craig (Shelburne, Ontario) and Brian Prestreau (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) scored one goal apiece. Sutton, Craig and Mike Aronow (Holbrook, N.Y.) each tacked on an assist. Sanders led the team with 13 shots, helping Penn State out-shoot Michigan, 43-38.

Connor Darcey (Wellesley, Mass.) made 13 saves in the cage, his 10th game this season with double-digit saves. Penn State was out-dueled at the face-off `X', 14-23, with Drake Kreinz (Delafield, Wis.) going 4-for-9 and Billy Lombardi (Rochester, N.Y.) posting a 5-9 record. The Nittany Lions won the ground ball battle, 23-22.

The Nittany Lions showed dominance early, opening the game with three unanswered goals. Sanders, the team's leading scorer, put Penn State on the board 2:40 into the contest. Craig carried the ball behind the goal line extended, allowing Sanders to slip free and go high-to-low far side. Exactly 10 minutes later, Aponte gave the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead when he ran from behind the goal and threw the ball high over his defender.

Just under two-and-a-half minutes into the second, Aponte got his second of the game off of a solid play in transition. Tommy O'Neill (Shamong, N.J.) fed Aponte the ball after a long run and Aponte ran horizontal to the goal and jumped to beat his defender, shooting high past Gerald Logan mid-air for the 3-0 lead.

Ian King's first of the game cut Penn State's lead to 4-1 1:24 later, but an incredible individual effort by Aponte just over a minute later restored the three-goal Blue and White lead, and resulted in Aponte's first-half hat trick. He raced behind Logan's cage and skirted around his defender with an inside roll, faked the shot and flipped in the 4-1 goal with 10:58 remaining in the first quarter.

Penn State's 4-1 lead at halftime was the first time this season the Nittany Lions allowed one goal in the opening 30 minutes. Last year, Penn State allowed one first half goal in wins over Michigan (2/8) and Towson (4/12).

The offense picked up for both teams coming out of the intermission, and after a Wolverine goal 2:24 into the second half, the Nittany Lions went on a 4-2 run to take an 8-4 lead into the fourth quarter.

But Michigan (5-8, 1-4 Big Ten) came out of the third quarter break flying, out-scoring the Nittany Lions 5-2 in the final 15 minutes of play.

Just 19 seconds after the Wolverines cut Penn State's lead to 8-5, a Michigan turnover resulted in a tic-tac-toe play for the Nittany Lions. Michael Richards (Skaneateles, N.Y.) recovered the ground ball and fed it to Aronow, who sent the dish to Sanders for the 9-5 tally.

The Wolverines responded by scoring three goals in less than two minutes to make it a one-goal game in Penn State's favor at 9-8.

Darcey kept Michigan's streaking offense at bay, making several spectacular saves, including one with his knee with 7:39 remaining in regulation to keep it a one-goal game.

Sanders completed a hat trick of his own less than two minutes later for a 10-8 Penn State lead. Aponte fed Sanders the ball from behind the net as Sanders was racing to the cage, and the junior slipped it past Logan for his 27th goal of the season.

Michigan tacked on a man-up goal with 2:27 remaining in regulation, but the Nittany Lions held on for the final 10-9 win.

Maryland and Ohio State will join Penn State and Johns Hopkins at the Big Ten Tournament. No. 2-seeded Maryland and No. 3-seeded Ohio State will face off 35 minutes following the conclusion of the Johns Hopkins-Penn State game on April 30.




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