Penn State lacrosse coach Jeff Tambroni discusses ‘evolution’ of team
The Penn State men’s lacrosse team is now one win away from the national title game.
The consensus No. 1 Nittany Lions — who, prior to this season, never won an NCAA tournament game — cruised past No. 8 Loyola Maryland 21-14 Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals at UConn’s Rentschler Field. The win comes on the heels of Penn State’s dominant 25-10 opening-round win May 12 over UMBC.
“I’m proud of our guys and the way they continue fighting,” Penn State coach Jeff Tambroni told ESPNU.
Penn State (16-1) will take on Yale — the only team it lost to this season, 14-13, back in February — on Saturday at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field in the semifinals. The winner of that will advance to the national championship, which will be played at the same venue 1 p.m. May 27 and will air on ESPN2.
The Nittany Lions are in uncharted territory already this season. They won their first-ever Big Ten regular-season title and tournament title, they’ve cruised to the first two NCAA playoff wins in school history, and they’re currently on the nation’s longest winning streak at 13 games. On top of that, attacker Grant Ament set the single-season NCAA record for assists (91) and Mac O’Keefe holds the single-season Big Ten record for goals (75).
It’s been a historic season so far for the Happy Valley squad — and they made it look easy again Sunday. For the most part.
Despite falling behind in the first period 6-3, Penn State’s high-powered offense bounced back right away and ended the first half on an 11-1 run. Even with an early deficit, the Nittany Lions still held a 14-7 halftime lead. And, from there, they never trailed.
Of course, Loyola tried to mount a comeback and in the third period trailed just 16-14. But it never got any closer than two goals.
O’Keefe paced Penn State’s offensive attack with nine goals, which tied an all-time NCAA tournament record, while Ament led the way with eight assists. Other notable performers included Jack Kelly (4 goals, 1 assist), Nick Spillane (1 goal, 3 assists) and Cole Willard (2 goals, 1 assist).
Colby Kneese made 12 saves.