Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/20/13
By Contributing Writer David A. Willauer
& From Press Release
The ninth-ranked Penn State men’s lacrosse team clinched a share of the Colonial Athletic Association regular season title with a 13-7 win over the Blue Hens on Saturday night at Delaware Stadium in front of 1,492 fans.
Jack Forster (La Salle) tallied a game-high five points behind four goals and one assist. Junior goalkeeper Austin Kaut (Springfield-Delco) made 12 saves in 56 minutes of work.
Penn State (10-3, 5-0 CAA) overcame a 3-2 deficit and ran off 11 of the next 14 goals for a 13-6 advantage in the fourth quarter. The win sewed up the CAA’s No. 1 seed for the conference tournament. Tournament dates and site will be announced on Monday.
The Nittany Lions picked up their eighth win in a row overall and 11th straight win in true road games. Additionally, Penn State has won 10 straight regular-season CAA games.
“It was a hard fought game we played a team game in the second half,” said Forster. “We needed to come out with the win. In the second half we moved the well down the field.
“It was a good team effort. Our goal coming in the CAA schedule was to earn the first (seed).”
Pitching in with Forster and Kaut were Tom LaCrosse, Kyle Zittel and Nick Dolik with their respective two-goal games. Kyle VanThof assisted three goals, while TJ Sanders posted a three-point game with a goal and two assists.
“We’ve worked hard at practice to help prepare us to win on weekends,” said Kaut. “I always have to rely on my teammates.”
Gavin Ahern and Drew Roper (Columbus, Ohio) rounded out the scoring, while Danny Henneghan tallied an assist. Steven Bogert shined for Penn State, picking up 10 ground balls and causing two turnovers. The last Nittany Lion to pick up 10 or more ground balls was Henneghan (13) against Drexel on April 9, 2011.
Nittany Lions got off to a slow start, falling behind 2-0 in the game’s first five minutes. Penn State responded with goals from Forster, assisted by VanThof with 8:13 to go before senior Roper made a dashing right-winged attack for his first goal of the year with 4:29 remaining in the first.
Delaware (5-9, 1-4 CAA) tallied the first of the second period on Nick Diachenko’s second of the game just 49 seconds into the frame as UD staked a 3-2 lead. Penn State broke a nearly 16-minute scoring drought on Ahern’s fourth of the year, a 10-yard shot assisted by Forster.
Penn State took its first lead of the games with 53 seconds left as Forster spun past his defender behind the cage and completed the wrap around attempt for the 4-3 lead. The story of the opening half was the play of the goaltenders as UD’s Conor Peaks made eight stops and Kaut posted nine saves. Both goalies made five saves in the second period.
“We played hard all year long,” said Delaware coach Bob Shillinglaw. “We needed to improve quality possessions as they (Penn State) got transition goals that happened off our turnovers and in the faceoffs.”
PSU’s offense got rolling in the third period, scoring four of the first five goals starting with a tally from LaCrosse. Delaware cut the lead to one, 5-4 with 11:39 left in the frame, but Sanders scored on a quick-fire goal from Henneghan, who won the ensuing faceoff for the two-goal advantage. Zittel and LaCrosse pushed the lead to 8-4 with 5:16 remaining in the period before Diachenko struck for his fourth goal of the game.
The fourth period was nearly a copy of the third as Penn State scored the first, this time from Dolik, while Delaware responded a few minutes later with 10:52 to go as the lead was 9-6 PSU. Forster tallied back-to-back goals helped by LaCrosse and VanThof before Dolik pushed the new score to 12-6 with 5:19 left in the game. Zittel capped off the scoring for Penn State 20 seconds later as the Nittany Lions owned a seven-goal advantage.
The Nittany Lions were out-shot 41-37, but won the ground ball battle 33-32. In the second half, Penn State picked up 21 ground balls to Delaware’s 15. Both teams were even in faceoffs with 12 apiece.
Penn State connected on nine goals in the second half on 21 shots (42.8 percent), while holding Delaware to 21 percent shooting. Kaut made three more saves in the second half and Conor Baucum stopped two shots in 3:31 of play.
During Penn State’s eight-game winning streak, the Lions have held each opponent to eight or less goals. The defensive unit of JP Burnside, Tyler Travis and Jack Donnelly kept the Blue Hens in check all night, snapping their three-game win streak and eliminating them from CAA Championship contention.
Midfielder Michael Richards was also vital to the PSU defense, picking up two ground balls and causing two turnovers, while helping Penn State clear 18-of-20 attempts.
Penn State travels to No. 20 Hofstra for the regular season finale next week. Game time at Hempstead, N.Y. is slated for 7:00 p.m. Hofstra fell 9-8 to UMass on Saturday night. Currently, Penn State, Drexel and Towson have clinched spots in the CAA Championship, which is to be held the week of April 29.