Pontrello Scores OT Winner, Men’s Lacrosse Tops No. 9 Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Nikko Pontrello scored the game-winning goal 19 seconds into overtime, and No. 12 Loyola University Maryland edged No. 9 Penn State University, 12-11, on the road in Holuba Hall on Saturday.
Penn State (1-1 overall) tallied the final four goals of regulation to for an 11-11 tie and send the game to overtime, but Graham Savio won the faceoff for the Greyhounds (1-1) to start the extra frame, and Pontrello ended it 19 seconds in.
Pontrello, Tyler Albrecht and Jeff Chase all had three goals for Loyola, and Justin Ward dished out four assists.
Jack Runkel outdueled preseason All-American Austin Kaut in goal, finishing with 12 saves for the Greyhounds. Five of Runkel’s saves came in the fourth quarter, while Kaut finished with six total.
Pontrello’s second goal of the game came with 12:10 to go in regulation. Kaut saved Pontrello’s intitial offering, but Pontrello was there to pick up the ground ball and score, giving Loyola an 11-7 advantage.
The Nittany Lions got a pair of goals back off extra-man opportunities, as T.J. Sanders scored one at 9:48, and Erik Myers added another with 3:55 to play, closing the gap to 11-9.
Shane Sturgis, who assisted on both of the man-up goals, then tallied a transition goal off a Steven Bogert assist at 1:42, and Loyola’s lead was down to one.
Myers tied the game at 11-11, marking the fourth time the game had been knotted, as he cut to the crease and took a Kyle VanThof pass to score with 63 ticks left on the fourth-quarter clock.
Brendan Donovan came up with a faceoff win, picking up the ground ball himself, for Loyola after Myers’ goal, and the Greyhounds called timeout with 27 seconds remaining to set up a final sequence in regulation.
Ward had a shot attempt from the crease off a Pontrello pass with less than four seconds left, but it went wide, and the teams headed for extra time.
Loyola’s four-goal lead early in the fourth quarter was not indicative of the way the game’s closeness throughout, as it was tied four times. Runkel and the Greyhounds’ defense, however, did not allow the Nittany Lions to lead at any point in the game’s 61-plus minutes.
The Greyhounds went up 3-1 on a Chase extra-man goal with 17 seconds left in the first quarter, thanks to a Matt Sawyer assist, but Sturgis scored the first two goals of the second, tying the game at 3-3 with 10:51 to go before halftime.
Brian Schultz, however, put Loyola back in front with a goal at 7:41, and Albrecht followed with his second of the game at 2:56, making the halftime lead 5-3 for Loyola.
Pontrello used a Schultz feed 50 seconds into the second half, but Penn State had a three-goal run of its own to tie the game at 6-6 with goals by Sanders, Gavin Ahern and Kyle Baier. The Nittany Lion goals came in a flurry of scoring that covered just one-minute, 45 seconds with Baier’s knotting the game at 11:03 in the third.
Albrecht was on both the defensive and offensive ends of Loyola’s next goal. He doubled Penn State’s Pat Manley and caused a turnover with just over eight minutes left in the quarter. After a Loyola clear – the Greyhounds were successful on all 16 of their clear attempts Saturday – Albrecht scored his first career hat trick with a goal at 8:03 to push Loyola back up one, 7-6.
The lead would not hold for long, however, as VanThof scored for Penn State 56 seconds later.
Donovan got the faceoff out to Brian Sherlock who picked up the ground ball, and Kevin Ryan fed Chase for a goal at 6:25, just 42 seconds after VanThof tied the score.
Both teams killed off extra-man opportunities in the next few minutes of action before Chase recorded his first career hat trick with a goal at 1:43, staking the Greyhounds to a 9-7 advantage.
Loyola got the ball back on a Penn State faceoff violation, and Sherlock took a Ward pass to score with 44 seconds left in the fourth, putting the Greyhounds on top, 10-7, heading to the fourth quarter.
In addition to the three goals apiece for Pontrello, Chase and Albrecht, Shultz and Ryan each had one goal and one assist, and Matt Sawyer added an assist.
Joe Fletcher had a team-high two caused turnovers defensively, and the preseason All-American picked up three ground balls to match Savio for team-high honors in that category.
Sturgis led all players with five points, scoring three goals and assisting on two, while VanThof added two goals and two assists for the Nittany Lions.
Loyola makes its home debut at Ridley Athletic Complex on Wednesday, February 19, at 3 p.m. when it hosts Towson University. The game against the Tigers can be seen live on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague.tv.