It began with the look of a serious blowout, but got more competitive after a record-setting first quarter. Defending Division I men’s lacrosse national champion Yale set out to earn a second straight title game berth – after only 15 minutes.
The Bulldogs bulldozed top-seeded Penn State in the first quarter, scoring 10 of the first 11 goals and finishing the first quarter with an eight-goal lead.
Penn State eventually settled down, but the opening deficit was too much to overcome as Yale defeated the Nittany Lions, 21-17, in Saturday’s second national semifinal before 32,612 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Yale (15-3) will face Virginia in Monday’s 1 p.m. championship at the Linc. Virginia beat Duke, 13-12, in double overtime in the first semifinal.
Yale defeated Duke, 13-11, in last year’s NCAA championship.
“We started moving the ball quick and we knew Penn State could come back any moment, and we knew it wasn’t done after the first quarter, so we tried to keep going at it one possession at a time,” said attack Jackson Morrill, who had three goals and two assists. “I think we did a good job of that today.”
The 10 goals scored by Yale tied an NCAA record for most goals for any quarter in a semifinal. The other time it occurred was in 1976, when Maryland scored 10 in a semifinal against Navy.
Penn State (16-2), which suffered its only two losses to Yale, the other a 14-13 defeat on Feb. 23, settled down after the Bulldogs’ early onslaught. The Nittany Lions cut the lead to 12-9 at halftime and 16-13 after three quarters, but got no closer.
Yale scored the first four goals of the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions away.
“I thought they [Yale] played a terrific game today from start to finish,” Penn State coach Jeff Tambroni said. “Really came out and took advantage of maybe some experience and maybe a lack of preparation, and that probably falls on me.”
Freshman attack Matt Brandau scored seven goals for the Bulldogs. Teammate TD Ierlan, the NCAA leader in faceoff percentage leader, was dominant in that aspect of the game, winning 28 of 42.
Penn State redshirt junior Grant Ament of the Haverford School had three goals and five assists for eight points. That gave him 25 points in the three NCAA games, which tied the record for most points in one tournament. It has happened three other times. In the tournament, he had seven goals and an NCAA Tournament-record 18 assists.
The 38 combined goals ties an NCAA championship record for any round; Johns Hopkins defeated Towson, 22-16, in 1994.
All season, Yale has avoided talk about defending its title.
“It’s something we have been trying to keep way from thinking about, really, the entire season, because it’s all people have talked about since it ended last year,” Yale coach Andy Shay said.