UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Tied 6-6 at the half, the No. 18 Penn State men's lacrosse team exploded for seven second-half goals en route to a 13-8 victory against No. 12/13 Villanova at the Penn State Lacrosse Field on Saturday afternoon. The Nittany Lions, who played their eighth ranked opponent of the season, improved to 5-5 overall in their non-conference finale, while Villanova dropped to 5-4.
Penn State, which entered the game averaging less than eight goals per contest, registered a season-high 13 tallies against the Wildcats. The Nittany Lion defense also held Villanova scoreless for a 31:57 span that included the entire third frame, and sophomore goalkeeper Austin Kaut (Morton) dominated between the pipes as he turned aside 17 shots for his sixth double-digit save performance of the season.
Senior attackman Jack Forster (Jenkintown), who collected an assist, extended his goal-scoring streak to six games with four markers, while classmate Matthew Mackrides (Newtown Square) recorded his second hat trick of the season. Junior midfielder Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and sophomore Shane Sturgis (Downingtown),who netted his first multi-goal game since scoring twice against Lehigh in 2011, added three points (2g, 1a) each.
Senior defenseman Ryan McGarvey (Lower Gwynedd) collected a game-high four ground balls, while senior midfielder Ryan Link (Englewood, Colo.) manufactured a game-high two caused turnovers.
Villanova out shot Penn State by a 35-31 margin, but the Nittany Lions controlled 28 ground balls to the Wildcats' 20. Penn State finished 1-for-3 with the extra man and won 10-of-25 faceoffs, while successfully executing 13-of-16 clears.
In an evenly played first half, neither team took more than a one-goal lead. Dolik opened the scoring 1:34 into the game before the Wildcats tied it at 3:03. Just 42 seconds later, Dolik finished Mackrides' pass to give the Nittany Lions a 2-1 advantage.
Villanova notched the next two goals in 10-second span to take a 3-2 lead before Forster and Sturgis responded at 13:16 and 14:36, respectively. Freshman Pat Manley (Arnold, Md.) gathered an assist on Sturgis' goal as Penn State took the 4-3 lead.
In the second quarter, Villanova outscored the Nittany Lions by a 3-2 margin. After the Wildcats tied the game 1:03 into the stanza, freshman midfielder Kyle Baier (Auburn, N.Y.) scored his first collegiate goal with the extra man with 8:10 remaining. The Wildcats then struck twice in a 25-second span to take a 6-5 lead, but Forster answered off a feed from Sturgis with 5:59 left to make it a 6-6 game.
Including Forster's marker, Penn State scored seven straight goals en route to a 12-6 advantage. Off the second half's opening faceoff, junior Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) gathered the ball and fed sophomore attackman Gavin Ahern (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), who put the Nittany Lions up 7-6 just seven seconds into the frame.
Sturgis gave Penn State an 8-6 lead when he connected off Kyle Zittel's (Eden, N.Y.) pass with 6:46 left before Forster closed out the third quarter with back-to-back markers. The Jenkintown, Pa., native recorded his third tally of the game with 2:44 left before his team-leading 19th goal of the year gave Penn State a 10-6 advantage with 40 seconds on the clock.
The fourth quarter began with two Mackrides strikes as he scored with 10:32 left in the game before adding his third of the contest 4:46 later. After Villanova broke its nearly 32 minute scoreless drought to make it a 12-7 game, the senior put the Nittany Lions up by a 13-7 margin with 4:50 left. The Wildcats scored with 3:37 left in the contest to round out the scoring.
Penn State, which snapped its four-game home losing streak with the victory, will return to action on Saturday, April 7 when it visits conference-rival Drexel at 2 p.m.