Rutgers vs. Penn State
April 23, 2005
The Game Story:
PISCATATAWAY, NJ – Penn State’s Nate Whitaker had two goals and two assists – including what proved to be the game-winning goal – as the Nittany Lions withstood a furious Rutgers fourth-quarter rally to claim a 8-7 victory over the Scarlet Knights in men’s lacrosse on Saturday at Yurcak Field.

With the win, Penn State (7-4, 4-1 ECAC) takes possession of the Friendship Cup, which was established nine years ago by alumni from both institutions. Rutgers (4-7, 1-3 ECAC) was led by junior goalie Greg Havalchak (Corning, NY), who made a season-high 17 saves.

After the Scarlet Knights had successfully battled back from a 6-2 second-quarter deficit to draw within one, 7-6, Whitaker took a pass from John Eremus with 4:05 to play in the fourth quarter and gave PSU a two-goal cushion. That insurance goal turned out to be the difference, as Devon Britts (Scottsville, VA) scored with 3:06 to play, but Nittany Lion goalie Chris Courteau made a critical save on a shot with less than two minutes remaining that preserved the victory.

The Nittany Lions, averaging over 10 goals per game entering the contest, had a five-goal spurt in the first quarter to take a 5-1 lead. Sean Battoni (Ringoes, NJ), who finished with a team-high three points (two goals, one assist), got Rutgers on the scoreboard first (12:46, first quarter), but PSU scored five times in a four-minute span, aided by face-off specialist Greg Gurenlian, who won seven-of-eight draws in the opening period.

Rutgers received second-quarter goals from Colin Checcio (Wayne, PA) and John Flanagan (Smithtown, NY), but trailed by three, 7-4, at intermission. The only goal in the third quarter came form Battoni, making the score 7-5 with 12:26 to play.

The Scarlet Knights converted on a key man-up opportunity when Jamie Lovejoy (Holbrook, NY) scored off a feed from Chris Doctor (Skaneateles, NY) with 8:12 left in the fourth quarter, but RU cold never muster the tying score.

Penn State won 15-of-18 face-offs and held a 40-28 edge in groundballs. The Nittany Lions outshot RU 41-25, but Havalchak kept Rutgers in the game by saving 17 shots, including eight in the third quarter alone. His counterpart, Courteau, made just two stops.

Rutgers returns to action next Saturday, April 30, when it travels to Washington, DC, to face third-ranked Georgetown at 1:00 p.m.