Penn State Slips Past Men's Lacrosse

March 5, 2005

Box Score

University Park, Pa. - After scoring only five goals in its season-opener last Saturday, Head Coach Bill Dirrigl asked his offense to step it up and they did just that with 14 goals at Penn State on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately for Loyola, the Nittany Lions scored 16 and came away with a two-point win in the ECAC opener for both squads.

"The offense played well," says Dirrigl. "We valued the ball and did a better job with our clears. We just need to put a whole game together."

Senior Matt Monfett quickly got Loyola on the board with the game's first goal only 20 seconds into the action. The Nittany Lions answered with junior John Eremus, who scored the next two to put Penn State ahead by one with 11:34 remaining in the first quarter.

The Greyhounds got even when freshman Shane Koppens picked off a clear attempt by PSU goalie Chris Courteau. With the goalie out of position, Koppens found sophomore Patrick Kennedy in the crease and Kennedy tied the contest with his first goal of the season.

The game's rapid pace continued with Penn State scoring the next two goals in less than a minute. Sophomore Matt Cassalia answered the PSU run with a charging shot at 10:03 and the Greyhounds trailed 4-3. Eremus pushed the margin to 5-3 with 58 ticks left in the first period, but Monfett changed the momentum in Loyola's favor when he closed the period with his second goal of the day.

"Coach Dirrigl talked about finishing plays in practice all week," says Monfett. "We did a great job of doing that in the first half. "

A four-goal run that began with Monfett's goal to end the first quarter, included a goal from sophomore Jordan Rabidou at 13:50 and was capped by back-to-back goals from Monfett at 13:40 and 12:28.

The Nittany Lions responded to Loyola's four-goal spurt with a four-goal run of their own and led 9-7 before Rabidou narrowed the deficit to one point with a diving shot at 2:47. The Greyhounds had the last shot of the half, but a nice save on Craig Georgalas' bullet left Penn State with a 9-8 halftime lead.

After Nate Whitaker's goal only 51 seconds into the third quarter, the Greyhound defense clamped down while the offense remained patient and worked for good shots. Koppens brought the Greyhounds within one goal with nice one-on-one move at 7:45 and sophomore Andrew Spack tied the game with laser into the upper left-hand corner of the cage with four minutes left in the period.

Eremus gave Penn State an 11-10 advantage with a man-up goal to end the third quarter, but sophomore Greg Leonard once again tied the score at 11-11 with his goal at 14:22 of the final period. A one-minute defensive lapse, however, left Loyola down by two goals with 12:26 left to play.

Sophomore Dan Bauers, who made the start at first midfield, closed the gap to one goal with a score at 10:18, but a man-up goal from Penn State's Gill Pearsall at 4:52 once again gave the Lions a two-point edge.

Loyola, however, remained poised, and after six unsuccessful extra-man possessions, converted on back-to-back man-up opportunities to knot the score at 14-14. The first goal was set up by Spack and finished by co-captain Pat Shek; the second goal was scored by Spack with 2:56 left in regulation.

"We were excited to tie the game," says Shek. "But we knew we had to keep scoring goals. The game is 60 minutes long and you have to play all 60 to win."

For the second week in the row, however, two late goals left the Greyhounds on the wrong end of a two-goal game. Whitaker scored the game winner at 2:05 while Mike Jacober added the insurance at 1:23.

Loyola starts the year 0-2 overall and is now 0-1 in the ECAC. Penn State improves to 2-1 on the year and picks up its first conference win of the season.

"This loss definitely hurts," says Monfett. "But you can't dwell on it with a game coming up this Tuesday. We have to be ready for Marist."

The Greyhounds host Marist this Wednesday at 3 p.m.