College kids across America are celebrating the arrival of spring break, and after today, Penn men’s lacrosse is likely no exception.
The Quakers bounced back this week after a disappointing road loss to Virginia, playing their most complete game of the season by dominating 20th-ranked Penn State (3-2) at home. The Red and Blue claimed victory, 11-7, in a game that was never as close as the final scoreboard indicated; five of the Nittany Lions’ goals came in the final period of play when the game was all but put away by the Quakers.
Penn (2-1) benefited from more of the same from standout freshman goalie Reed Junkin. Last week’s Ivy League Rookie of the Week made 15 saves on 32 shots while limiting Penn State (3-2) to just two goals until the fourth quarter as the defense in front of him stifled the Nittany Lion offense for most of the game.
Penn’s offense spread the wealth again on Saturday, seeing seven different goal-scorers, six of which were underclassmen.
Sophomore attackman Reilly Hupfeldt led the Quakers with a hat trick while sophomore long-stick midfielder Connor Keating and freshman attackman Tyler Dunn added two goals apiece. Senior captain and Tewaaraton-watchlist member Nick Doktor had a three-point day with two assists and an empty-net goal at the end of the game.
“This victory says a lot about us,” Doktor said after the game. “Virginia’s a great team and unfortunately we didn’t get the result that we would have liked last weekend, but I think this shows the resiliency of a young group coming into their own early on in their careers.
"We have a lot of young guys playing and it’s a credit to them stepping up and playing well beyond their years maturity-wise. A really good team win, a lot of guys contributed, and it’s a testament to our team that we can come out and bounce back against another good team in the span of one week.”
“The defense took a big step forward today and Reed Junkin played great again,” Penn coach Mike Murphy added. “The biggest thing from last week to this week was that we cleared a lot better and our defense was better, so if we continue to build on those pieces and face-off a bit better, we’ll be in good shape.”
While the defense may have stepped up in its own end today, it always helps the matter when your defense is making big contributions on the offensive side of the ball.
Keating, the long-stick midfielder that had two goals on the day, is the Quakers’ second leading goal-scorer for the 2016 season with five goals to his name so far during his sophomore campaign. Should he continue this blistering pace, Keating would end 2016 with around 25 goals, a rate of almost two goals per game.
“Connor works really hard to have one of the best sticks on the team,” Doktor noted. “It’s tough to save the shots from a long pole and I think our guys have the utmost confidence in him throwing him the ball in the offensive end of the field. He’s done a great job of finishing it when we’ve given him the ball so we’re going to keep feeding him until defenses start to respect him.”
Of course, Doktor and the rest of the offense has some pretty high firepower as well.
“Doktor is really our best offensive player and our leader, so a lot of what happens on the field comes through him,” Murphy said. “But we have talented underclassmen and coach [Patrick] Meyers is doing a good job of putting those guys in the right spots to score goals. So our offense is doing a good job and I think we still get even better there.”
The Quakers will look to take another step forward on Tuesday at home against Lafayette.
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