STATE COLLEGE, PA. — When it was over, the recognizable Penn State fight song was blaring over the public address system. However, it was the Towson men's lacrosse team that was on the field celebrating on top of the Nittany Lions logo.
Senior attackmen Ryan Drenner and Joe Seider combined to produce 10 points as Towson upset seventh-seeded Penn State, 12-8, in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday.
Seider scored four goals and had two assists for Towson (11-4), which advances to next weekend's quarterfinals against the winner of Sunday's game between second-seeded Syracuse and Yale. Drenner totaled two goals and two assists for the Tigers, who outscored the Nittany Lions 9-4 in the second half.
"Another tough win up here against a very strong Penn State team. I thought that second half really showcased who we were. I was a little worried after that first half, but the players really responded," fifth-year Towson head coach Shawn Nadelen said. "I think the senior experience really helped as far as staying focused and dialed in. I'm really proud of the way these guys were able to handle the game and earn that win."
It was the third straight season the Tigers have played on the road in the first round. Last year, Towson upset second-seeded Denver before falling to local rival Loyola Maryland in the quarterfinals.
"I think we just looked back and brought our experience to the table. Being in the fourth quarter of a close game, especially an NCAA game, you need that experience," Drenner said. "I think we dug down and found it within ourselves to keep pushing forward and just found a way to put the ball in the net."
Attackmen Grant Ament and Mac O'Keefe scored three goals apiece for Penn State (12-4), which is now 0-4 in NCAA tournament appearances. Freshman goalie Colby Kneese made 16 saves for the Nittany Lions, who also went down as a seeded entry in 2013.
"Hats off to Towson. I thought they controlled the pace of play and made really timely plays on both ends," seventh-year Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "It's sad to see the seniors go because they did so much to change the culture of Penn State lacrosse. I'm hopeful the sting of this game will help us move forward and figure out how to move past this round."
Towson awaits the winner of the final first-round game of the weekend with Ivy League tournament champion Yale traveling to take on second-seeded Syracuse.
"I'm excited for the opportunity to have another week with these guys. This team has been really special to our staff. Just the way they've addressed the whole season, battled through injuries and always found a way to grind it out," Nadelen said.
In 2014 and 2015, Towson had to win a play-in game in order to reach the first round. That wasn't the case this season and Young believes it will benefit the Tigers in the quarterfinals.
"I think not having the play-in game this year really helps our bodies. Hopefully, not having that extra game will mean that we're fresher in the quarterfinals," he said.
GOALS: T – Seider 4, Drenner 2, Lynch 2, Konen, Young, Woodall, Kinnear. PS – Ament 3, O'Keefe 3, Aponte 2. ASSISTS: T – Drenner 2, Seider 2, Ewell, Konen, Lynch. PS – Ament, Fox, Hill, McEvoy, Sabia. SAVES: T – Hoy 9. PS – Kneese 16. HALFTIME: Penn State, 4-3.
Duke 19, Johns Hopkins 6
Towson 12, Penn St. 8
Air Force at Denver, late
N. Carolina at Albany, late
Marquette at Notre Dame, noon
Bryant at Maryland, 2:30
Loyola at Ohio St., 5
Yale at Syracuse, 7:30