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Penn State defeats UMass women’s lacrosse in second round of NCAA tournament  

After falling behind early, the University of Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team played evenly with Penn State in their second-round NCAA tournament game Sunday.

But the Minutewomen could not make up the early deficit and lost 12-9 in University Park, Pa. The No. 7 Nittany Lions (14-6) advance to play Northwestern in the NCAA quarterfinals.

“It wasn’t our best game, that’s for sure,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “It was a frustrating result. We’re right there with teams like this. You don’t have to play perfect, but you have to play a very good game for 60 minutes and we couldn’t put that full game together.”

The Minutemen fell behind 4-1 nine minutes into the game, but led by back-to-back scores by Cori Murray (three goals), UMass got within one at 4-3 with 17 minutes, 4 seconds left in the first half. But the Minutewomen could never tie the game.

After Penn State scored the first goal of the second half to increase its lead to 9-4, UMass scored the next three to grab momentum and get within 9-7. But Molly Fernandez seized the momentum back by scoring consecutive goals to restore a four-goal lead for the Nittany Lions with 15:30 to play.

“Our shot selection, sometimes we forced a little bit,” McMahon said. “That translated into goalie saves for them. They’re a very good transition team. We took some poor shots and they went right down and scored 15 seconds later. We shot 9-for-25. You’re not going to beat a top-10 team shooting like that.”

Penn State’s defense held the Minutewomen’s top two scorers to a combined one point as Katie Ferris scored once. Sam Rush not only was held scoreless, but attempted only one shot. Rush, who broke the UMass single-season record with 65 goals this year, had not been held scoreless all year.

The Nittany Lions controlled momentum by winning 14 of 25 draw controls. Penn State goalie Emi Smith made seven saves.

Jamie Schiloski and Rachel Vallarelli combined in goal to make six saves for the Minutewomen.

The loss ended a 15-game winning streak. UMass, which finished its season at 18-3, graduates seniors Murray, Lauren Terracciano, Kelsey Palmer and Sarah Mullen.

“The good news is that we’re returning the bulk of our team and hopefully they learn for this and we’re able to get back into the tournament next year so we can win this second-round game,” McMahon said.

“I think everyone probably feels good about our season, just not satisfied, which is great, because it leaves you feeling really hungry going into next year,” she added. “We raised our bar this year, but we know that we should absolutely surpass it next year.”

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