TOWSON, Md. - Penn State University (12-6) used a strong start to open the second half and pull away from the No. 8 Towson University women's lacrosse team and post a 15-8 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
The Tigers (16-4) finished the season with a program record 16 wins. Penn State advances to the second round of the tournament to face No. 1 Florida.
"This one stinks right now," said Towson Coach Sonia LaMonica. "We had a great season and I have a lot of pride in this team and the adversity we have overcome."
The game featured the return of former Towson coach Missy Doherty to campus. Doherty coached Towson for seven seasons before moving to Penn State.
"It was more exciting to win with this team," said Doherty. "I obviously like those players (Towson) a lot and I respect those players a lot. It's not an easy team to have to come in and coach against because I recruited a lot of those players to Towson. I think there was a great pride in Penn State today and I was really proud of our girls."
The Tigers scored the first goal of the game as sophomore attacker Andi Raymond scored her 34th goal of the year. Penn State (12-6) responded by scoring five straight goals to take a 5-1 advantage with 18:18 remaining in the half. Molly Fernandez had three goals for the Nittany Lions during that run.
A goal from sophomore midfielder Kelly Murkey at 17:30 put a halt to the Penn State flurry. Murkey's goal was followed by scores from junior midfielders Ashley Waldron and Kelly Custer to make it a 5-4 game with 7:35 to play in the half. Mackenzie Cyr pushed the Nittany Lions' lead back to two goals, 6-4 with 3:26 to go until the break.
Raymond scored with 10 seconds remaining, sending the home team into the break trailing 6-5.
Penn State outshot the Tigers 16-8 in the first half while controlling eight of the 12 draw controls.
The Nittany Lions opened the second half on a 5-0 run to take control of the game, building an 11-5 lead with 21:09 to play. Haley Ford had three of the five goals Penn State scored during that run.
Towson disrupted the Nittany Lions' run with back-to-back goals from Waldron and sophomore attacker Ashleigh Rohrback. Rohrback's goal at 17:25 made it an 11-7 game. Penn State scored four of the last five goals in the game to make it a 15-8 final.
Goalkeeper Dana Cahill made six saves in the win for Penn State. Senior goalkeeper Mary Teeters made seven saves in her final collegiate action for the Tigers. Freshman Kelsea Donnelly made one save in 11:28 of work.
The Nittany Lions finished the game with a 28-17 advantage in shots while controlling 14 of the 25 draw controls in the game.
Fernandez and Ford led Penn State with three goals each while Maggie McCormick had a goal and three assists.
Raymond, Waldron and Custer each scored two goals in the game for the Tigers while Murkey had a goal and an assist.