Even with the best offense in the country, a slow start can be too much to overcome at times.
Yale raced out to a stunning nine goal lead in the first quarter, and never let Penn State get back within three, advancing to the national championship game with a 21-17 win.
The Nittany Lions had some runs are were able to get back in the game but some sloppiness, TD Lerlan’s dominance, and periodic defensive struggles.
Historic season comes to an end
It was a season of firsts for the Nittany Lions. First Big Ten Title, first NCAA Tournament win, first Final Four Appearance, and first Tewaaraton finalist.
It won’t end with a first National Championship.
The Nittany Lions had a ridiculous run, with their last loss before Saturday coming back in February to the Bulldogs. They spent the rest of the spring breaking program, Big Ten, and NCAA records with an electric offense that captivated the lacrosse world and garnered the interest of some new fans among Nittany Nations.
Penn State basically spotted Yale a nine goal head start. The Nittany Lions just couldn’t get settled in any aspect of the game and the Bulldogs took full advantage, racing out to a massive 10-1 lead.
Even for the best offense in recent memory, nine goals was simply too big of a lead to overcome. The Nittany Lions had a nice run and different periods of momentum, but it wasn’t enough. The deficit and Yale’s continued face-off advantage were too much to be overcome.
The Nittany Lions did themselves no favors struggling against the Yale riding game at times, with uncharacteristic mistakes that wasted precious possessions throughout the remainder of the game.
TD is too much
Coming into this game everyone expected Yale to have a possession advantage. TD Lerlan is the best face-off specialist in the country, and dominated Gerard Arceri and the rest of the Penn State face-off unit in their previous matchup back in February.
Lerlan going 28-of-39 was almost better than Penn State could have hoped for going in, but the Nittany Lions let it become a massive factor early in the game.
In the previous matchup the Penn State defense was able to get some stops and keep it close as the Nittany Lions lost a 14-13 decision. Today, the Nittany Lions defense just got shredded and gave up 10 first quarter goals. Whenever a team is getting dominated at the face-off X, the defense needs to get stops to help the offense get the ball back. That just didn’t happen enough for Penn State on Saturday, particularly early in the day.
Gerard Arceri did what he could to try and spark the Penn State offense with three fast break goals of his own, but it wasn’t enough in what was always going to be a tough day. Arceri was also able to get a foothold later in the day after coach Jeff Tambroni tried a couple of different players.
The 2020 season next February.
Penn State brings back a large majority of their key pieces, with Chris Sabia and Nick Spillane the most notable losses. The Nittany Lions will be ranked highly in the preseason, and will be among the national title favorites headed into next spring, but only time will tell if they’ll be able to recreate this season’s magic.