March 3, 2012

Penn State Defense Stops Ohio State in 5-2 Win

by Patrick Maks | LaxMagazine.com | Related: Live Blog Replay

Penn State won its third straight game and held Ohio State to two goals a week after allowing only three against Notre Dame.
© Josh D. Weiss (file)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It was far from pretty, but it was enough for No. 13 Penn State to get the job done.

The Nittany Lions, fresh off a stunning upset a week ago over then-No. 2 Notre Dame, used a suffocating defense to defeat No. 17 Ohio State 5-2 on Saturday afternoon.

"I thought our defense played very well against an extremely talented offense," Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "They got some slick offensive players in [Logan] Schuss, they do a lot of things that are very creative to get him open."

Despite turning the ball over 20 times and being outshot by OSU 32-28, the Lions were able to notch their second road win in two weeks over ranked competition.

Penn State senior Matthew Mackrides, who had two of his team's five goals, quickly credited the win a result of the team's stingy defensive effort.

"[Our] defense today was unbelievable, two goals against Ohio State—they got some firepower over there," Mackrides said. "What can I say, two games in a row—three [goals allowed against Notre Dame] and two goals [today]—it's just great."

The Nittany Lions improved to 3-1 in winning their third straight game and allowed their fewest goals since defeating Air Force by a 16-2 margin in 2002. The Lions also secured the inaugural Creator's Trophy, a traveling trophy among the three Big Ten schools that sponsor men's lacrosse. Penn State also beat Michigan earlier this year.

Sophomores Gavin Ahern, Tom LaCrosse and Shane Sturgis also tallied a goal each for Penn State. One week after stopping 18 shots against Notre Dame, goalie Austin Kaut made 14 saves, and Ohio State netminder Greg Dutton stopped 12 shots as the Buckeyes fell to 3-2, losing their second straight game since upsetting Denver.

After falling into an early 2-0 hole, Ohio State managed to get on the board in the second quarter with a goal from Tyler Frederick before the end of the half.

PSU, though, rallied with a furious assault of three straight scores, including back-to-back goals from Mackrides in the third quarter.

Seemingly stunned, the Buckeyes didn't respond with a score of their own until late in the fourth quarter when Schuss cut the lead to three.

"Offensively, we got to grow, we got to grow from this, and understand that three goals [last week against UMass], two goals [today] aren't going to get us where we want to be," OSU head coach Nick Myers said.

Mackrides said adjustments at halftime made a difference for the Nittany Lions.

"At halftime we made a few adjustments [that] allowed us to come out in the third quarter and push the ball from the midfield," he said. "They were pushing out our attack, so we really wanted to go hard at their defensive unit up at the midfield and it helped us produce goals really quick, two quick goals was key for this victory."

Tambroni said he remembered how hard Ohio State played in the Buckeyes' 6-5 win last season against the Nittany Lions and said he knew his team would have to bring the same kind of intensity to come out of Columbus with a victory.

Saturday's result, combined with PSU's play on the season, suggests they are a team to watch out for during the rest of the year.

Tambroni said he thinks his team's leadership has been strong and, consequently, they have "a little bit more resiliency this year than last year."

Maybe most of all though, it's what Tambroni sees in his defense that makes them a national contender.

"The defense really did a good job of just working as a unit," he said. "I don't know if we got any superstars back there, but we love the unit that we have when they play together."

Redshirt senior and Buckeyes co-captain Matt Kawamoto said despite the loss, he was proud of Ohio State's effort throughout the game.

"I thought we definitely played great defensively, all around," he said. "Everyone stuck together, fought hard."

The 2011 ECAC Defensive Player of the Year said every week, every game is a tough contest for them.

And this one was no different.

"A lot of shots weren't going our way today, stuff wasn't falling, their goalie had a great game today," Kawamoto said.

Despite being down since the 14:23 mark in the first quarter, he said the Buckeyes never quit —even when seemingly nothing would hit the back of the net on the attack.

"Offense played their hearts out and kept fighting throughout the end of the game," Kawamoto said.

Myers credited PSU's impressive defensive effort for their offensive struggles, but said it came down to a lack of execution.

"We got to continue to work there, and find people, and develop our system," he said.


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