Penn State men’s soccer (2-6-2) fell to Big Ten rival No. 20 Michigan (5-3-2) at Jeffrey Field on Sunday following Jack Hallahan’s last-minute thunderbolt.
How It Happened
In the 26th minute of Sunday’s match, Ethan Beckford sprinted towards the Sons of Jeffrey with his teammates draped across his shoulders and his hands raised in celebration — a rare sight for the Penn State faithful.
It has been a frustrating season for the freshman, Manchester-born forward, who has often been played as the lone striker in Bob Warming’s trusted 3-5-1 system. A red card and slew of near misses kept his starting spot in jeopardy as he competed with forwards Christian Sload and Mac Curran.
But against Michigan, things came together Beckford and the Nittany Lions. Several early giveaways and solid saves from goalkeeper Josh Levine in his first start fed a new attacking confidence. Cameron Steele beat his man on the left side and sent a high, loping cross toward Christian Sload, who nodded the ball down into the path of a charging Beckford. The freshman cushioned his finish into the corner of the net, and the Blue and White were in business.
Solid tackles and man-marking on Michigan’s many crosses from the Lions’ back line kept the Michigan attack, which averages over a goal a game, at bay. Aaron Molloy, dubbed the “Irish Messi” by the Sons of Jeffrey, conducted Penn State’s reinvigorated attacking build up, finding Aymar Sigue in the final minute of the half with an inch-perfect cross. Sigue’s header was cleared, but Penn State remained in control and entered the half with a one-goal lead over its Big Ten rivals.
The match’s momentum shifted after the break. Michigan’s attack, led by dribbling wizard Umar Farouk Osman, pinned the Nittany Lion’s in their own attacking half. Sophomore defender Brandon Hackenberg stepped into Penn State’s backline and delivered a solid performance at left back. Beckford broke free on the counter attack in the 55th minute, but his shot from the right side was saved by Michigan goalkeeper Andrew Verdi.
Michigan equalized in the 70th minute when Mohammed Zakyi finished a low cross into the bottom corner. Michigan continued to press for a winner, forcing Levine to make a sliding one-on-one save in the 76th. The Nittany Lions seemed to be on thin ice three minutes later when Osmand hit the post.
It looked as if Penn State would retake its lead in the 83rd, when Travis Keil’s cross found Brennan Ireland wide open at the back post. But the defender’s header went wide, the match remained deadlocked at one, and the first period of overtime began.
Zakyi remained a threat in the first period of extra time, bouncing a headed shot off the crossbar in the 94th minute and smashing a shot off the left post four minutes later.
But it was Michigan winger Jack Hallahan who won the game for the wolverines, smashing a left-footed shot off the crossbar and into Levine’s goal.
Player Of The Game
Josh Levine | Freshman | Goalkeeper
The New York native delivered a solid performance in his first start of the season, recording nine saves.
The Nittany Lions face No. 1 Indiana (8-0-2) at Jeffrey field on Saturday, October 7th.