No. 2 Maryland tops Penn State to open conference play
COLLEGE PARK – The No. 2-ranked Maryland Men’s Lacrosse team entered its first Big Ten Conference game Saturday looking to continue its winning ways after a thrilling overtime victory over then-No. 1 Virginia.
Hosting No. 9 Penn State (5-3), the Terps (6-2) leaned on midfielder Jack Koras’ hat trick to defeat the Nittany Lions 13-10 in College Park.
Koras finished the game with his fifth hat trick of the season and third in a row – all in the last six games.
“Coming off last week and being on spring break, it’s always challenging because you get out of rhythm,” said Terps Men’s Lacrosse head coach John Tillman. “Getting our guys in that mindset after last weekend, the guys did a great job on the road.”
“Everyone is getting more experienced as we go along the season, which gives everyone more confidence,” said Koras. “We know other teams are going to have runs, so it’s just about sticking together and just waiting for the next play and taking it one play at a time.”
Kyle Long had two goals and an assist for three points, while Dante Trader Jr. and Eric Kolar each had two goals in the first half.
Meanwhile, Jack Traynor led Penn State with four total goals.
The Nittany Lions took an early 3-2 lead in the first quarter. However, Maryland scored three goals in the final 56 seconds in the opening frame thanks to Eric Spanos, Trader, and Long.
The Terps continued their dominant run at the beginning of the second quarter with three goals in the first 41 seconds, with Trader, Daniel Kelly and Kolar contributing to the goal-scoring.
By that point, Maryland had scored six goals within a span of 1:37 to take an 8-3 lead.
However, Penn State fought back with a 6-1 run to cut the deficit to a goal before Koras scored his first goal at the end of the first half.
Koras scored two more goals in the second half to finish his hat trick.
All-American Luke Wierman became the fifth Terp ever with 500 face-off wins, as he went 19 of 27 in the game and now has 517 in his career.
The Maryland defense did its job in the second half by holding Penn State scoreless for over 26 minutes between the third and fourth quarters.
“We do a great job playing as one unit both defensively and offensively,” said defenseman Ajax Zappitello. “It’s been clicking for us so far; we’ve just got to keep pounding away on that and getting better with the little things.”
After Terps goalie Logan McNaney went down with a torn ACL earlier in the season, Brian Ruppel has been solid and made nine saves against the Nittany Lions.
Next up, Maryland will have another conference home matchup as they host Michigan on Saturday, Apr. 1, at 1 p.m.
Stock photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse