PHILADELPHIA, PA. 5/11/2019 – The University of Pennsylvania got off to a strong start scoring the first five goals of the game, all in the opening period, and advanced in the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament with a 13 – 8 win over the Black Knights of Army. It was the third NCAA Tournament win in program history, and their first NCAA win since 1988 when they defeated Loyola of Maryland. Penn advances to the quarterfinal round and will meet Yale for the third time this season in East Hartford next Sunday.
The Quakers and the Bulldogs played last weekend for the Ivy League championship. After such and emotional victory the Red and Blue showed they were ready for the next challenge.
“The entire year we’ve been taking it one week at a time,” said Penn attacker Simon Mathias. “Every week is a new week and I am really proud of the way these guys showed up today. Each and every guy did their job.”
Five different players scored in quarter number one. Alex Roesner started the parade scoring just over three minutes into the contest. Tyler Dunn, Mitch Bartolo, Adam Goldner, and Sam Handley followed with goals to give Penn the 5 – 0 lead.
“That was the key to the game,” said Penn Coach Mike Murphy. “The way we are built compare to the way Army is built, us getting a lead was really important. The faceoff disparity we hoped for and us getting a lead allowed is to dictate the pace of the game. We got out to a lead, and even though they closed that gap from 5 – 0 to 7 – 5, it felt like we were still in control. When you have a lead and you win faceoffs it puts a lot of pressure on the other team. It was a large part of our success today.”
Army did not go away and got 5 second period goals to cut the deficit to 7 – 5 at halftime.
It was hard for the Black Knights to build momentum as the Quakers won 12 of 14 faceoffs in the first half. For the game Kyle Gallagher won 22 of 25 for the Red and Blue. It made it hard for the Black Knights to make a comeback as they had to play uphill the entire contest.
“Possessions are one of the most important things in the game,” said Gallagher. “The capability of getting my team to get the ball as many times as I did is helping out the offense getting more opportunities against a very good defense. I am trying as much as I can to get those guys the ball.”
“I am not sure of what the possession breakdown was, but it was clearly on their side,” said Army Coach Joe Alberici. “It becomes a huge task defensively. We played good defense considering the amount of defense that we played.”
When Army did get into the attacking zone Penn goal keeper Reed Junkin seemed to always be in the way making 9 saves on 17 shots on goal.
Junkin had a point-blank save in the third period that Penn immediately transitioned into a Mathias fast break score and a 10 – 6 lead which pointed the game firmly in the Quakers direction.
Mathias had a game-high 4 goals and added an assist. Goldner found the back of the net three times to give him a team-best 53 goals this seson. Roesner had a hat trick for the Quakers.
Army had three multiple goal scorers. Nate Jones led the team with 3 while Sean O’Brien and Matt Manown netted two apiece. O’Brien handed out a game-high 3 assists.
Next stop, East Hartford for game three against Yale with a trip to the Final Four in Philadelphia on the line.
Written By: Glenn Papazian