Initially it looked like it was going to be another dog fight.
Penn State was sloppy on offense. Gerard Arceri was struggling at the face-off X. Rutgers had come to play.
Then the top-ranked Nittany Lions sent a reminder to the lacrosse world what they can do over the final three quarters. They pulled away in absolutely dominant fashion for an 18-6 win to secure the first Big Ten Tournament win in program history.
A big second-half run got the Nittany Lions a six-goal lead at halftime and they carried their dominant play over to the second-half. It was just wave after wave of Nittany Lions scoring and making a difference on the offensive end. To make matters worse for the Scarlet Knights, it was complemented by great goaltending and suffocating defense at the other end of the field.
Opposing coaches would love to live in a world where star attackmen Grant Ament and Mac O’Keefe were all they have to worry about, but that just isn’t reality at the moment. They combined for 7 of Penn State’s 18 goals on Thursday. A hefty total no doubt, but also a display of how much depth coach Jeff Tambroni has at his disposal on offense.
Glatz helps spark run
After a dreadful 1-for-6 quarter at the face-off X Arceri was temporarily benched. Jake Glatz was put in the game in relief and had a good 3-for-5 quarter. During that second quarter that saw the Nittany Lions score five goals in the middle of a seven goal run, Glatz’s face-off wins helped Penn State play some make it take it with the star starter struggling.
Getting some game action in crucial situations will no doubt give the seldom-used Glatz some confidence if he needs to be called on at any other point this month as the stakes will continue to rise. After the halftime break, Arceri came back into the game and went 9-of-10 in absolutely dominant fashion to show that the first quarter was just a blip on the radar.
Kneese with a monster day
Any defense that shares a field with the best offense in the country is going to be overlooked or criticized a majority of the time. The offense gets a lot of the praise and no one notices the defense unless a game is closer than it should be or a loss happens.
On Thursday night in Piscataway, led by goalie Colby Kneese, the Penn State defense was outstanding. With Rutgers enjoying a huge possession advantage in the first quarter, Kneese had to make several big saves to prevent the Scarlet Knights from racing out to an early cushion.
At the end of the night Kneese had 11 saves and had allowed just five goals before being pulled for backup Trevor Scollins.
The Nittany Lions will remain in Piscataway and play for the Big Ten Championship on Saturday night at 7 p.m. on Big Ten Network.
They’ll take on Johns Hopkins for the conference crown. In the two teams' regular season meeting the Nittany Lions routed the Blue Jays 20-9.