No. 16 Nittany Lions Grind Out One-Goal Victory at Villanova

VILLANOVA, Pa. No. 16 Penn State used a four-goal second quarter and 16 saves from Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) in a 7-6 win at Villanova on Saturday in front of 2,578 fans.

Junior midfielder Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) tallied his second hat trick in as many games to lead Penn State to its fifth straight win and 10th straight true road contest. Penn State has held each opponent to seven of fewer goals during the winning streak.

"I thought [Villanova] played a lot better than us in our offensive end," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "I was thankful that our goalie and our defense did enough tonight to give us a win ... Our defense had to answer the bell a little bit more than they should have. I thought Tommy LaCrosse, in particular, played really well and was just really aggressive in his dodging. I think (the offense) should've taken a page out of his book tonight."

Penn State (7-3, 2-0 CAA) out-scored Villanova (2-6, 1-0 Big East) 4-2 in the second quarter, including the last three goals of the frame to take a 5-3 lead. Fueling the three-goal spurt was Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) and LaCrosse, two scored twice. Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) assisted on Forster's tally and LaCrosse's first marker. The second LaCrosse goal was a dash down the middle of the field as the junior was hit with 15 seconds left in the half.

PSU extended the run to four goals and a 6-3 lead as Forster's second goal of the game was assisted by Sturgis just 3:13 into the third period. Sturgis fed Forster from behind the cage with the timer on for Penn State's largest lead of the game.

Villanova's Nick Doherty tallied an extra-man goal and John Kluh's early fourth-period rocket with 12:04 remaining cut the Penn State lead to one at 6-5.

Midfielder Kyle VanThof (Penfield, N.Y.) scored the eventual game winner with 9:34 to go on a curl around the cage as he bounced it in for a 7-5 lead. The game-winner was VanThof's second of the year.

Villanova's defense forced Penn State into four turnovers in the fourth period, setting up several tense moments down the stretch. Max Hart's goal with 3:04 left in the game cut the lead again to one, but Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) won the ensuing faceoff to stave off a quick Villanova run.

Henneghan won 11 of 17 faceoffs against Thomas Croonquist, who won 22 of 24 last week in an upset over No. 4 Syracuse last week. Henneghan had a game-high seven ground balls. Steven Bogert (Carlsbad, Calif.) pitched in with four ground balls and James Burke (Duxbury, Mass.) had three collections and Penn State's lone caused turnover.

Penn State would commit a shot clock violation with 1:45 remaining as Villanova looked for the equalizer. Kluh looked for his second goal of the game from the right wing with a minute left was saved by Kaut and cleared successfully as Penn State ran out the clock and beat Villanova for a second straight meeting. Penn State is 16-3 all-time against the Wildcats.

Gavin Ahern (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) opened the scoring for Penn State in the first period with his second tally of the year, an unassisted goal.

Villanova was the aggressor on defense, forcing 11 of Penn State's 17 turnovers, while the Wildcats committed just six turnovers of their own. VU out-shot Penn State 37-24. Penn State's best quarter was the second, out-shooting the Wildcats, 11-8.

Penn State won the ground ball battle 23-19, the eighth time in 10 games PSU has won that statistic. The Nittany Lions fared well against Villanova's aggressive ride, clearing 20 of 21 times, the lone failed clear coming at the end of the second quarter looking for a last-second goal. Villanova was 18 of 20 on the clear. PSU went 0 for 2 in man-up opportunities, while Villanova was 1 for 2.

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