NO. 5 YALE (14-3) VS. NO. 1 PENN STATE (16-1)

The News-Times - - SPORTS - — Chip Malafronte cmalafront­e @nhreg­is­

What: NCAA Tour­na­ment na­tional semi­fi­nal

When: Satur­day, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Lin­coln Fi­nan­cial Field, Philadel­phia


At stake: Win­ner ad­vances to na­tional cham­pi­onship game on Mon­day at 1 p.m. against the win­ner of Satur­day’s DukeVir­ginia semi­fi­nal.

Yale leads 3-1. Penn State’s lone win came in 1997. Yale has won the last three, in­clud­ing a win in the first round of the 2013 NCAA tour­na­ment.

Yale de­feated the Nit­tany Lions 14-13 on Feb.

20 in New Haven. Jack­son Mor­rill had two goals and five as­sists while T.D. Ier­lan took 25-of-31 face­offs. It re­mains Penn State’s lone loss this year.

Yale de­feated Ge­orge­town 19-16 in the first round and Penn 19-18 in over­time in the quar­ter­fi­nals. Penn State beat UMBC 25-10 in the first round and Loy­ola

21-14 in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

They are the na­tion’s two high­estscor­ing teams. Penn State is av­er­ag­ing 18 goals per game, 23 in the NCAA tour­na­ment. Yale av­er­ages 15.65 goals, 19 in the NCAAs. Penn State also leads the coun­try in shoot­ing per­cent­age and ex­tra-man of­fense. Yale is first in face­off per­cent­age, fourth in ground balls.

Yale — T.D. Ier­lan, Jr., FOGO (.761 win per­cent­age); Jack­son Mor­rill, Jr., A (43 goals, 45 as­sists, 88 points); Matt Bran­dau, Fr., A (40-21-61); Matt Gaudet, Jr., A

(47-2-49); Chris Fake, So. D; Jack Tigh, Sr., M (27-16-43); John Danigge­lis, Sr., M (19-7-26).

Penn State — Grant Ament, Jr., F (27-91-118); Mac O’Keefe, Jr., A (75-18-93); Dy­lan Foulds, Jr., A (38-13-51); Jack Kelly, So., M

(40-9-49); Nick Spil­lane, Sr., M (26-22-48). the past two games.

“There’s bet­ter ball move­ment, and that cre­ates open op­por­tu­ni­ties for other peo­ple,” Cotler said. “Our ball move­ment has been great this year. Coach Stim (Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor An­drew Stim­mel) puts us in the right spots and we’ve been able to ex­e­cute. T.D. is re­ally good on the X and gives us more pos­ses­sions and op­por­tu­ni­ties at the of­fen­sive end. When I look back at our high scor­ing, I say it’s awe­some to have him on our team.”

Yale’s de­fen­sive strat­egy will be vi­tal. Penn State runs mul­ti­ple pack­ages and is ef­fec­tive in ev­ery one of them. And when the Nit­tany Lions shoot, they are ac­cu­rate. Their .433 shoot­ing per­cent­age leads the coun­try and dwarfs the near­est com­peti­tor, Cor­nell, at .368. The NCAA has only tracked team shot per­cent­age since 2010, but Penn State should shat­ter the record of .402 set by Stony Brook in 2015.

Jack Kelly, a se­nior mid­fielder, scored 40 goals on just 76 shots, a .526 per­cent­age that’s third in the coun­try. O’Keefe scored nine goals against Loy­ola on Sun­day, ty­ing an NCAA record. He did it on 16 shots.

“I don’t know how this game will play out, we just have to be but­toned up on both ends of the field and re­act to the ebbs and flows of the game,” Shay said. “Their ebbs are sig­nif­i­cant. They went on an 11-1 run against Loy­ola.”

Shay pauses for a mo­ment be­fore char­ac­ter­iz­ing Penn State with a fa­mil­iar ad­jec­tive.

“That’s ter­ri­fy­ing.” Make no mis­take: Yale, loaded with ex­pe­ri­enced weapons and post­sea­son suc­cess, is equally ter­ri­fy­ing. The record for most com­bined goals in an NCAA tour­na­ment game is 38, and has stood for 25 years.

It could be in jeop­ardy.

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