April 23, 2011

Penn State Hammers Delaware to Forge First-Place Tie in CAA

from press releases

Penn State freshman goalie Austin Kaut, the nation's leader in save percentage, tries to clear the ball under pressure Saturday at Delaware Stadium.

© Kevin P. Tucker

NEWARK, Del. -- The Penn State men's lacrosse team won 13-3 at No. 19 Delaware in CAA action Saturday night. The win improved Penn State to 4-1 in Colonial Athletic Association play, clinching a conference playoff spot for the first time in Penn State's two years in the league. Junior Matthew Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.) led Penn State with four goals in the game.

Penn State jumped out to an early 3-0 lead thanks to two goals from Mackrides. The veteran Lion scored unassisted at the 12:13 mark and again with just :02 left in the period. But sophomore Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) nailed the key goal of the period, scoring a man-down with 7:30 on the clock, sandwiched between the two Mackrides goals.

The Nittany Lions also owned a 2-1 edge in the second period. Gavin Ahern (Rockville Center, N.Y.) scored unassisted at the 12:37 mark to give Penn State a 4-0 lead before Delaware got on the board off a Grant Kaleikau goal at the 6:50 mark. Nittany Lion junior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) put Penn State up 5-1 with an unassisted goal with 2:51 on the clock, a lead the Nittany Lions would carry into the halftime break.

Penn State exploded for six goals in the third period, essentially putting the game away. Delaware scored first in the period with Eric Smith finding the net with 12:35 left. But Penn State then reeled off five straight to move out to a 10-2 lead. Matt Shankoff (Flemington, N.J.), Ahern, Billy Gribbin (Rockville, Md.), Forster and Kyle VanThof (Penfield, N.Y.) each scored during the stretch. Delaware answered with a Kevin Kaminski goal with 1:24 left in the period, but Penn State closed out the third with another Ahern goal just five seconds later to lead 11-3 after three periods.
Penn State scored the only two goals of the final period with Mackrides notching this third and fourth goals of the game to give Penn State the resounding 13-3 win and clinch a spot in the CAA, playoffs as the league takes its top four teams.

Mackrides' four goals and an assist for five points led Penn State, while Ahern added three goals and VanThof had a goal and an assist. Forster had two goals for the Lions as well. Goalie Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) had 11 saves in the game while the Penn State defense, anchored by senior Matt Bernier (Drexel Hill, Pa.) and freshman Steven Bogert (Carlsbad, Calif.) kept the Blue Hen offense in check. Bogert led Penn State with seven ground balls. Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) won 10 of 19 face offs for Penn State and had six ground balls. Penn State outshot Delaware 44-39 and held a massive 42-27 edge in ground balls.

Delaware could have clinched the CAA regular season title and home field advantage of the upcoming league semifinals. The Blue Hens (9-5, 4-1 CAA), who had defeated nine straight conference opponents and entered the game riding a two-game win streak, recorded their lowest goal output since the 2007 season to fall into a three-way tie for first place with Penn State and Hofstra.

If the Hens can defeat Massachusetts next Friday in Amherst, Mass. in the final regular season game of the season, they would clinch one of two semifinal home berths. Should Hofstra also knock off Penn State on Saturday, the Hens would still capture the regular season crown.


Kevin Kaminski, Grant Kaleikau and Eric Smith each scored a goal for the Hens, but Delaware could manage only those three goals on 39 shots. The three goals were the fewest for the Hens since falling to Johns Hopkins 8-3 in the NCAA semifinals in 2007.

Without a big game in goal by Delaware netminder Noah Fossner, the outcome could have been worse. Penn State got off 44 shots with Fossner turning back a season-high 16 of them. Penn State also held a 42-27 advantage in ground balls and had nine less turnovers than the Hens.

Delaware had a home field record crowd of 2,621 to honor those who serve as part of Military Appreciation Night. Delaware also honored its 10 seniors prior to the game.

Penn State, under the guidance of head coach Jeff Tambroni, is now 7-5 (4-1 CAA) while Delaware fell to 9-5 (4-1 CAA). The Nittany Lions close out the regular season next Saturday night at No. 9 Hofstra in a 7 p.m. game.

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