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Men’s Lacrosse

ND comeback bid falls short in 8-7 loss to Penn State

| Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fueled by senior attackman Shane Sturgis’ five goals, No. 12 Penn State held on to beat No. 4 Notre Dame, 8-7, on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium, as the Nittany Lions earned their 13th consecutive road victory.

Notre Dame (1-1) fell behind 7-3 before its comeback attempt fell short. The Irish, who never led in the game, were paced by sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh who had three goals and two assists. Kavanagh, however, turned the ball over with less than a minute left and with the Irish on the man-up.

Irish sophomore attack Matt Kavanagh carries the ball during Notre Dame's 8-7 loss to Penn State at Arlotta Fields on Saturday. Kavanagh had three goals and two assists in the loss. Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish sophomore attack Matt Kavanagh carries the ball during Notre Dame’s 8-7 loss to Penn State at Arlotta Fields on Saturday. Kavanagh had three goals and two assists in the loss.

“We knew they were going to pressure him because he was the critical guy on the play before, but Matt just didn’t handle the pressure,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said.

Penn State (2-1) dominated time of possession early in the game, jumping out to a 2-0 lead with goals from senior midfielder Tom LaCrosse and Sturgis.

Notre Dame was able to answer with senior attackman Ryan Mix netting his first goal of the season, cutting the deficit in half. The Irish, however, were rarely able to put consistent pressure on Penn State’s All-American goalie, senior Austin Kaut. Despite seven goals on 29 shots, Corrigan was not pleased with the way his offense performed.

“If you take poor shots on an excellent goalie, that’s going to be the result,” Corrigan said. “Give him a lot of credit, but I don’t think we tested him the way we’re capable of.”

The Irish and Nittany Lions traded goals in the second quarter, with Penn State attackman TJ Sanders’ goal sandwiched around strikes by Notre Dame senior attackman John Scioscia and Kavanagh. The Nittany Lions were able to open things up before halftime thanks to Sturgis, who scored two goals in a span of 40 seconds to give Penn State a 5-3 at the break.

This was the beginning of a 4-0 run for the Nittany Lions that saw Sturgis and Sanders both add to their goal totals.

“You gotta be aware of [Sturgis] both with or without the ball,” Penn State coach Jeff Tambroni said. “He seemed to have tremendous poise and confidence coming down the stretch.”

The Irish finished the game with a run of their own, scoring four of the games’ last five goals. This included three goals in less than two minutes, with Kavanagh netting one along with junior attackman Conor Doyle and senior attackman Westy Hopkins.

After Sturgis’ fifth and final goal at the 5:06 mark of the third quarter, things quieted down for both sides as each squad’s goalie played well down the stretch. The final tally of the game was Kavanagh’s, cutting Penn State’s lead to 8-7 with 7:25 to go.

This all led to the final sequence, where Kavanagh sent an errant pass out of bounds. The Irish were never able to regain possession.

“We didn’t play well,” Corrigan said. “We didn’t handle the ball well. We gave the ball away on clears. “

Although a disheartening home loss for the Irish, Penn State was able to grab a key resume-building win.

“There are so many teams that can put themselves in position to play at the end of the year and these kinds of games are, hopefully, the ones that are looked upon in May as an opportunity to keep playing,” Tambroni said.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, will have to refocus its efforts as its next six opponents are ranked.

The Irish travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., to play No. 3 North Carolina on Saturday.

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About Brian Plamondon

Brian is a senior History major. He is a Maryland native that has been to 16 different countries including Italy, where he studied abroad. He loves all things hockey, especially the Washington Capitals. He's just doing this so he won't get fined.

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