In a game of back-and-forth runs, it was an uncontested sprint to the goal for Penn defender Kyle Thornton that could have decided the game.
With the score knotted at 12 in the closing seconds of regulation between the Quakers and Maryland men’s lacrosse, Thornton received a pass with only goalie Danny Dolan standing between him and an upset win over the No. 3 Terps.
The shot was headed for the upper-right corner of the net, but Dolan’s stick was in position to shut down the chance and send the game to overtime.
“I saw the kid pick it up and they were running down,” Dolan said. “My faith, I feel like, really helped me there. [It] gave me the strength to make the save.”
Then, in extra time, midfielder Roman Puglise received a pass in transition and fired an outside shot for the game-winning score that led Maryland past Penn, 13-12, at Franklin Field on Saturday.
Dolan’s game-preserving save capped off a performance in which he tied his career-high in saves, matching a mark he set while playing at UMass in 2016.
His saves proved to be crucial as Penn’s face-off specialist, Kyle Gallagher, helped the Quakers control possession by winning 21-of-27 at the faceoff X. With that command, Penn fired 30 on-target shots at Maryland’s senior goalie.
Gallagher was enjoying success against Maryland’s two face-off specialists, Austin Henningsen and Justin Shockey, who combined to win 20-of-23 draws against Richmond last Saturday. That face-off disparity helped Penn pull out to an early lead, scoring the first two goals of the game and four of the first five.
In overtime, with possession being so vital in the sudden-death situation, Henningsen stepped to the dot and a scrum ensued. Long stick midfielder Nick Brozowski finally gained control of the ball and sprinted upfield, giving the Terps a crucial opportunity to put the game away.
“All the credit to the face-off guys, Brozowski on the wing. I mean, it was a rough day at the X most of the day,” Puglise said. “But, when it mattered, they stepped up big.”
Brozowski, carrying the ball in his 6-foot pole, alluded check attempts from behind to clear the ball, then had the presence of mind to dump it off to Puglise on his left. Puglise received the pass, gathered and stepped into a powerful shot from approximately 12 yards out.
“[The coaches] give us the green light to shoot,” Puglise said. “We want to push transition, so I caught the ball and it’s just like an instinct.”
Puglise’s shot finished off a back-and-forth affair in Philadelphia, as both sides continuously responded to one another’s bursts of momentum.
With the possession going against them early in the game, Maryland turned to its extra-man unit for a spark. Penn committed two first-quarter penalties and the Terps capitalized on both chances with two man-up goals, one of which came 14 seconds into the second quarter from midfielder Anthony DeMaio.
DeMaio’s goal, which cut Maryland’s deficit to 4-3, was the second of a drawn-out 6-0 run for the Terps. Attackman Logan Wisnauskas bookended Maryland’s six consecutive goals, capping off the scoring streak with a diving shot across the front of the crease to give Maryland a 7-4 lead with seven seconds left in the half.
Penn looked to recapture the momentum before the break when Gallagher won the following faceoff and quickly pushed the ball. Gallagher passed off to attackman Simon Mathias for a goal just before the half expired to make it 7-5.
After an even third quarter, Maryland established an 11-8 lead with back-to-back goals from Wisnauskas and attackman Louis Dubick, which gave both players hat tricks on the afternoon. Then, following the pattern of the game, Penn had the answer again.
In a span of 87 seconds, the Quakers mounted a diverse 4-0 run to retake the lead. A transition opportunity, extra-man goal and two even-strength tallies pulled the home team back in front, at 12-11, for the first time since the second quarter.
But the Terps’ good fortune hadn’t quite run dry. Maryland was the beneficiary of a fortuitous bounce off the post with 3:20 to play and, after clearing the ball, attackman Jared Bernhardt passed out of a double team to an open Wisnauskas to tie the game.
Maryland had a chance to secure a go-ahead goal, but instead, a turnover with 12 seconds left gave Penn the final opportunity in regulation to seal the game. The miscue led to Thornton’s near game-winner before Dolan’s save in regulation that preceded Puglise’s overtime winner.
“Just seeing him make that save, it’s just kind of a sigh of relief, but at the same time it’s a newfound hope,” Puglise said. “I think from the moment forward, we knew that he made that save, we’re winning that game.”