They’ve done it.
For the first time in program history, Penn State Lacrosse is headed to the Final Four after defeating the Loyola Greyhounds, 21-14. To put a cherry on top, their seminal matchup will take place in the Keystone State, with Philadelphia playing host to this year's championship weekend.
What a game it was that clinched the Nittany Lions' spot on Memorial Day Weekend. A contest of runs driven by elite offensive talent made for quite the show.
Pat Spencer was a monster for Loyola, Mac O’Keefe was huge for Penn State, Grant Ament was surgical for the Nittany Lions, and Jack Kelly was clutch when it mattered for coach Jeff Tambroni’s team.
Loyola might have had the best player on the field today in Pat Spencer, but the Nittany Lions were just too deep. So many weapons on the offensive end made them too much for the Greyhounds to handle across 60 minutes. The two key moments in the game that propelled Penn State to victory were the second quarter run that made it 14-7 at halftime and stopping the Loyola momentum late in the third quarter.
The Greyhounds had cut the Penn State lead to two at one point but the Nittany Lions were able to reverse the run and punch their ticket to Philly.
O’Keefe has an absolute cannon.
While the way that Loyola played him raised a couple of questions, O’Keefe made them pay every single time they gave him space -- he finished the day with nine goals, tying an NCAA Tournament record. While his performance may have been overshadowed by the aforementioned Pat Spencer’s 11 points, the Nittany Lions probably wouldn’t be moving on without what O’Keefe was able to do.
Early on Loyola was dominating at the face-off X. The Greyhounds built up an early 6-3 lead and it felt like the Nittany Lions were going to have a very long day if they, Glatz, or Arceri couldn’t turn it around.
They did, and the game turned with them. In the second quarter, Arceri started dominating at the X and it fed into a Penn State offense that was starving for possessions. From there, it basically just make-it-take-it the rest of the half. As a team, the Nittany Lions won 22-of-38 face-offs on the day.
Spencer had a near historic day for the Greyhounds with 11 points. Maybe it’ll turn out to be his Tewaaraton winning game. But Ament had a big day himself and his season will continue. Ament will have another chance next weekend to put on a show on the sport’s biggest stage while Spencer will be at home watching on TV.
"He's probably a generational kind of player, Chris Sabia did all he could on him today," - Tambroni told ESPN about Spencer following the game.
Winning a national title is obviously Penn State’s sole focus heading into the Final Four next weekend, however, Ament claiming the Tewaaraton would be quite the cherry on top. If he keeps playing the way he has the rest of the year it’ll give him a great shot to win the player of the year award, especially if the Nittany Lions claim the national title.
Next up, the Nittany Lions will play the Yale Bulldogs on Saturday, May 25 at Lincoln Financial Field.