For Navy, the win was important for several reasons. It gave coach Bryan Matthews his 100th career victory. The win avenged a 16-9 loss a year ago. And most importantly, the victory gave the Midshipmen confidence in their quest for another NCAA tournament appearance.
"This is a momentum push for us," senior defenseman Kevin Caradona said.
Junior midfielder Tommy Roszko, who scored four goals for Navy, scored the first one for the Midshipmen, tying the score at one with 12 and a half minutes to play in the first quarter. He added two more goals to help push the Navy lead to 5-3 at the close of the first quarter.
The Midshipmen intentionally slowed the game to give themselves a better chance.
"We got in an up-and-down-the-field game last year, and that didn't work to our advantage," Matthews said. "Our main objective today was to hold onto the ball and slow the game down,"
It worked for awhile. Sophomore attackman Matt Long scored on a hard, bounce shot, extending Navy's lead to 6-3 before the Nittany Lions scored two goals to close out the first half, cutting the Navy lead to one.
Caradona was called for a slash to begin the third quarter, and Penn State made the most of the man-up opportunity.
Penn State midfielder Mike Busza gave attackman Chris Lehman a no-look pass on the right side of the crease to tie the score at six with 12:32 left.
Busza then scored unassisted at 8:41 to give Penn State an 8-7 lead and momentum.
"They're a very athletic team," Matthews said. "We learned that last year."
Penn State then went on a shooting spree, but only found the crossbar and the stick of senior goalie Kevin Farrington, who finished with 12 saves.
Navy regained control with less than a minute left in the third quarter.
Long scored with 48 seconds left on a hard bounce shot from the top of the box. Sophomore attackman Rob Bailey scored cutting through the crease giving Navy a 8-7 lead.
The Midshipmen blew the game open at the start of the fourth quarter when Penn State's Rob Warren was called for an illegal stick -- a three-minute penalty.
Navy sophomore attackman Charles Bertrand caught a pass on the crease from senior Matt Pawlikowski and scored. Less than a minute later Bailey sored again to make it 10-7.
Just when things seemed to be in control for Navy, Penn State's Chris Lehman scored a man-up goal and Mike Quinn scored on a fast-break, cutting the lead to 10-9.
Long scored with 4:38 left on a pass from senior John Tierney to put the game out of reach.
"We played well in spurts today," midfielder Roszko said. "We want to get to College Park this year and this is a good way to start," Roszko said, referring to the NCAA championships to be held at Maryland.