Connor Kelly leads #2 Maryland over #18 Penn State

Photo Courtesy of UMTerps.com

By: Jacob Steinberg

The No. 2 Maryland men’s lacrosse team (9-1, 2-0 B1G) had an opportunity to regain the top spot in the lacrosse rankings with a win over No. 18 Penn State (7-4, 1-1 B1G) and they did not disappoint. Playing a very talented Nittany Lion team in freezing cold State College is not easy, but the Terps were up for the task in their 13-12 nail biting win.

Connor Kelly is the senior leader and one of the favorites for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year this season. Kelly had a career-high six goals, continuing his streak of impressive performances against the Nittany Lions. He had a tough assignment going up against Penn State’s best defender Chris Sabia.

The Nittany Lions came out of the gates firing taking a quick 2-0 lead. Nick Spillane caught the defense ball watching and executed a perfect back cut putting the quick stick by Dan Morris. After Bryce Young got a one minute penalty for an illegal body check, Mac O’Keefe scored his first of four goals on the day on the EMO.

Kelly began his outstanding day with 6:54 remaining in the first quarter with his first of six goals. Dylan Foulds came right back with a pick and slip play, putting the bounce shot past Morris. After the Nittany Lions were called for a holding penalty, it was time for the Terps nation leading EMO to go to work. Jared Bernhardt scored his signature jumpshot off the feed from Logan Wisnauskas cutting the lead to 3-2.

After a rare unsuccessful attempt on the EMO, Tim Rotanz found Logan Wisnauskas right on the crease who stick faked past Colby Kneese for the tying goal. After one quarter the game was tied at three.

Ryan Keenan got the Nittany Lions back on the board early in the second quarter on a beautifully executed cut off the feed from Nick Spillane. Mac O’Keefe cut behind the Maryland defense and was able to score his second of the day. Kelly would not let this last long, however, scoring on a near post bounce shot on a beautiful feed from Jared Bernhardt at X.

40 seconds later, Dylan Foulds scored a bounce shot in between the legs of Morris, extending the Penn State lead to 6-4. Executing the two man game with Bubba Fairman to perfection, Kelly fired a rocket bounce shot from way outside giving him the hat trick. At the half the Terps were trailing 6-5 setting up for an extremely entertaining second half.

Will Snider stepped up in a big way for the Terps doubling his season goal total in the second half. A minute and a half into the third quarter, Snider face dodged around his defender for the goal. He added some salt in the wound with a nice stare down after. Kneese bounced back making a big save setting up the fast break finished off by Dylan Foulds, his third of the day, 7-6 Nittany Lions.

Soon after, Keenan fed Kevin Hill who gathered himself and fired a lefty shot despite a charging Young in his face. After Nick Cardile missed a ground ball, Kelly made sure to make the Nittany Lions pay, immediately feeding an open Jared Bernhardt cutting the lead to 8-7.

After facilitating, Kelly decided to create for himself scoring his fourth goal of the day on a roll dodge. With 45 seconds left in third quarter, Will Snider gave the Terps their first lead by firing a rocket into the top corner. That lead would not last long as Robby Black picked up a rebound and scored with less than one second left.

Logan Wisnauskas was called for a penalty at the start of the fourth quarter and O’Keefe made the Terps pay off the pass from John Nostrand. Continuing his impressive offensive performance, Kelly scored his fifth goal, getting it past a lunging Colby Kneese. Taking a page out of teammate Will Snider’s playbook, Kelly stared down the Nittany Lion defense letting them know he was hungry for more.

Morris came up huge in the fourth quarter for the Terps. One of Morris’s saves set up a fast break, finished off by Logan Wisnauskas. Wisnauskas fired a high bounce shot off the feed from Matt Neufeldt, but was not done there. With Young leading another fastbreak, Wisnauskas was able to complete his hat trick giving the Terps a 12-10 lead with 7:25 left.

The Nittany Lions would not go away, after Keenan was knocked down by Young he got back up and fed O’Keefe, who scored his fourth goal of the day with 5:55 left. After controlling possession, Kelly capped off his six goal day with a little bit of luck. Kelly’s shot bounced off of Tripp Traynor and into the back of the net extending the lead to 13-11. When you are hot, the ball bounces your way fortunately for the Terps.

Nick Spillane added one more goal with 18 seconds left, but Adam DiMillo picked up the crucial ground ball on the ensuing face off running it out for the victory.

After going 4-0 on the road trip the Terps return home to Capital One Field next Sunday at 7 p.m. against the No. 9 Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

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