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April 27, 2013
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - A potent Nittany Lion attack clinched a perfect regular season in Colonial Athletic Association play at Hofstra in a 16-7 victory on Saturday night at Shuart Stadium in front of 3,625 fans. Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) tallied five third-period goals to eclipse the 50-point mark for the first time in his career. Forster became the first Nittany Lion to tally 50 or more points since 2002 when Will Driscoll notched 55.
"Our staff and team are thrilled to have finished off the regular season with a win," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "We look forward to preparing for our league tournament and a very talented UMassa team."
Penn State (11-3, 6-0 CAA) is riding a nation-leading nine-game winning streak entering Wednesday's CAA Championship semifinal with Massachusetts. UMass earned the final spot in the CAA Championship with Hofstra and Saint Joseph's losses. That game will be played at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Penn State Lacrosse Field.
In all, three Nittany Lions tallied at least three goals as TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) and Steve Aitken (Wayne, Pa.) had a hat trick each, while Forster added his five. Forster had a six point night with an assist, both marks are season highs. Goalkeeper Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.), who was named as one of 25 nominees for the Tewaaraton Award on Friday night, saved 10 shots and allowed just four goals.
The Nittany Lion offense was relentless, scoring the most goals against Hofstra (7-7, 2-4 CAA) since a Feb. 27, 2010 loss to Princeton (17-14). Hofstra came into the game as the best team in the country in scoring defense, allowing a shade over seven goals per game. Also, Penn State scored its most goals of the 2013 campaign and matched a 16-goal Michigan on Feb. 18, 2012.
Penn State rushed out to a quick four-goal halftime lead with five straight markers from Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.), Travis Crane (Parkville, Md.), Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), and Sanders. LaCrosse tallied his seventh multi-goal game of the year.
Down 1-0 early in the first, LaCrosse found some open space in the middle of the field and rifled a shot top shelf to knot the score at one. After a lengthy Hofstra possession and a Kaut save, the junior Tewaaraton Award nominee fired a long clearance to Crane. The co-captain hurried down field and buried the go-ahead goal with 5:29 left in the first.
Sanders doubled the lead 42 seconds into the second stanza, faking out a defender on the near left crease and beating HU goalie Chris Selva near post for a 3-1 lead. Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) connected with a cutting Dolik as the senior midfielder one-timed the pass past Selva for a 4-1 lead with 7:40 remaining in the half. LaCrosse doubled his scoring output with exactly two minutes remaining, firing a rocket into the top left corner of the goal to culminate Penn State's 5-0 first-half run.
The second half started much like the first as Hofstra tallied the first goal, this time coming off the stick of Adrian Sorichetti, cutting the lead to three at 5-2. Sanders responded with 12:05 left in the third with his 36th goal of the season with Kyle Zittel (DDD) assisting the effort.
The Pride and Nittany Lions traded another set of goals by Sam Llinares of HU and Forster with 10:05 left. Forster completed the natural hat trick with a goal at 8:59 and a curling effort around the left side of the cage at 8:23 to give Penn State a 9-3 lead before Hofstra called timeout. The natural hat trick was the 14th of Forster's career and sixth of the season.
Forster's mastery of the Hofstra defense continued when he tallied his fourth in a row with 7:10 remaining in the third for a 10-3 lead. That goal gave him his 50th point and he would tally point No. 51 nearly three minutes later for an 11-4 lead. The five-goal game was one shy of his career best notched against St. John's on April 11, 2009.
Penn State made it 12-4 on another excellent clearance by Kaut, finding freshman Tommy O'Neill (Shamong, N.J.) for his first collegiate goal with 3:09 left in the third. Sanders capped his eight hat trick of the season and brought his season tally to 37 when Forster helped him out with 2:08 to go for a 13-4 lead. The eight third-quarter goals were the most scored by Penn State this season.
Hostra took a slashing penalty to put PSU on the man-up again as Aitken scored the first of his three goals 21 seconds into the fourth quarter. The goal was Aitken's first career tally and he'd back it up three minutes later on a Drew Roper (Columbus, Ohio) assist for a 15-4 lead, the largest of the season.
Hofstra tallied three straight markers to bring the score with in eight at 15-7 with 6:15 remaining. Aitken earned his hat trick on a Kyle VanThof (Penfield, N.Y.) assist to conclude the scoring.
For the game, Penn State and Hofstra were deadlocked in shots (36-36), while Penn State held a 36-28 edge in ground balls. Defensively, JP Burnside (Garden City, N.Y.) picked up five ground balls and Steven Bogert (Carlsbad, Calif.) collected four.
Penn State won the faceoff battle 14-11, holding a commanding 13-5 lead through three quarters. Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) won 14-of-21 faceoffs with a team-high six ground balls. Henneghan won eight of 11 faceoffs in the third when PSU out-scored the Pride 8-3.
In all, Penn State had 11 Nittany Lions tally a point including Kyle Zittel (Eden, N.Y.) tallying his first assist. Thirty-six Nittany Lions saw game action including goaltender Conor Baucum (Chevy Chase, Md.), who tallied a career-high four saves in 11 minutes of action.
The extra-man offense was superb, going 2-for-4, while the extra-man defense held Hofstra scoreless in its two attempts.
Penn State also matched a program best 11 wins in a season, first set in 1995 (11-2). Moreover, Penn State has won 12 straight true road games, having gone 7-0 this season. PSU also improved to 7-10 all-time against the Pride thanks to the largest win for the Nittany Lions in the series.
Penn State returns home to host the CAA Championship as the No. 1 seed beginning Wednesday at 3 p.m. vs. UMass. The PSU game kicks off a semifinal doubleheader that sees second-seeded Drexel face off against third-seeded Towson at 5:30 p.m. The CAA Championship final is set for Friday at 3 p.m.
Tickets for each session are free for all Penn State (and other CAA schools) students with valid ID, $8 for adults and $5 for youth. Groups of 15 or more can purchase $4 tickets if bought in advance through the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office by calling 1-800-NITTANY (684-8269). The ticket office is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Groups will be charged $5 each the day of the game.
Parking for the CAA Championship is free in Lot 44. Fans can access Lot 44 by using Dauer Drive off University Drive or Porter Road.