UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After leading 4-2 at halftime, the No. 17/18 Penn State men’s lacrosse team scored nine third-quarter goals en route to a 16-9 victory against Michigan at the first-ever game at the new Penn State Lacrosse Field on Saturday (Feb. 18) afternoon.
The Nittany Lions improved to 1-1 (0-0 CAA) with the Creator’s Trophy victory. The Trophy is an annual series between Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. Senior midfielder Ryan Link (Englewood, Colo.), who scored a goal and collected a game-high six ground balls, earned Player of the Game recognition. Penn State will play Ohio State in its final game of the Series on Saturday, March 3.
Nine different Nittany Lions found the back of the net, including senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown), who led all players in both goals (5) and points (8). Sophomore Gavin Ahern (Rockville Centre, N.Y./3) and senior Matthew Mackrides (Newtown Square/2) recorded multi-goal games, while freshmen Taylor Stothoff (Sparks, Md.) and Kyle Zittel (Eden, N.Y.) both tallied their his first collegiate goals.
Sophomore Shane Sturgis (Downingtown) and Forster paced the team with three assists each, while junior Kyle VanThof (Penfield, N.Y.) added a pair of helpers. Eleven different Nittany Lions registered at least one caused turnover.
All three Penn State goalkeepers saw action against the Wolverines. Sophomore Austin Kaut (Morton) started for the Nittany Lions and made six saves for the win, while juniors Dave Baker (Havertown, Pa.) and Conor Baucum (Chevy Chase, Md.) played parts of the fourth quarter. Michigan netminders Dylan Westerhost, who started, and Cy Abdelnour made 9 and one saves, respectively.
Penn State outshot Michigan, which dropped to 0-2 (0-0 ECAC), by a 43-26 margin and won the ground ball battle, 34-24. The Nittany Lions were 2-for-3 on extra-man opportunities, while Michigan was 2-for-5.
In the first half, both teams failed to find their offensive rhythm before Michigan’s Alex Vasileff opened the scoring with 6:46 left in the first quarter.
Penn State then embarked on a 7-1 run, tallying four of the next five markers to close the half. Mackrides netted the first Nittany Lion goal at the new field with 5:13 left before Forster closed out the frame’s scoring with less than a minute to go.
Vasileff tied the game, 2-2, early in the second quarter before Mackrides registered a man-up goal and Forster scored his second of the game to close out the half.
The Nittany Lions then exploded for nine goals in the third frame. Ahern, who tallied three times in the stanza, netted the first two goals in the first 4:46 to give Penn State a 6-2 lead. After Michigan brought the game to 7-3, the Nittany Lions scored six straight in a 5:32 span, capped off by Stothoff’s first marker, to take a commanding 13-3 lead.
The Wolverines added two goals late in the third and another marker early in the fourth to bring it to 13-6, but the Nittany Lions responded with three markers of their own. Forster registered his fifth of the game with 11:22 remaining before Zittel and sophomore Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) added goals to give Penn State a 16-6 advantage. Michigan ended the game with three goals in the final 6:08 to account for the 16-9 final.
The Nittany Lions will return to action Sunday, Feb. 26 when they visit No. 9 Notre Dame at 1 p.m.