Men’s soccer (4-9-2, 1-6-0) went on the road to Virginia to take on James Madison (8-6-3, 4-1-2) on Wednesday night. The Nittany Lions came out on top 2-0 with goals from Sam Bollinger and Ethan Beckford.
How It Happened
The Nittany Lions were looking to turn their recent six-goal performance against Rutgers into another strong offensive showing against James Madison.
In the 16’, Sam Bollinger gave Penn State an early 1-0 lead with a high, looping header after he beat the James Madison keeper to a cross that was really a 50/50 ball. Aymar Sigue headed the initial cross from Perno back across the box, and Bollinger was there to do the rest. Kyle Perno and Aymar Sigue tallied assists on the effort.
In what was probably JMU’s best opportunity of the first half, Joe Vyner couldn’t quite make the right contact to head a wonderfully weighted cross in from the right flank into goal in the 27′.
Just two minutes later, Ethan Beckford made a powerful and quick run right through the James Madison midfield and back line, before laying the ball off to a winger who nearly found Sigue open in front of net. Although the JMU defender cleared the ball away from immediate danger, Penn State continued to look dangerous.
With about 7 minutes left in the first half, Christian Sload went down with a serious injury to his head. Replay showed that while looking to guide the ball on a header, his head collided with a defender’s head. After about 15 minutes down on the pitch, an ambulance showed up to take Sload to the hospital.
Penn State entered the half with a 1-0 advantage over James Madison.
In the 49’, Ethan Beckford made another lightning run into the box, firing a shot towards the far post that was ultimately blocked and turned out of play by the defense. Despite not scoring in this instance, the role of Beckford as an attacking midfielder seemed to give the freshman lots of confidence and the freedom to float around the pitch.
Beckford stepped up to take a penalty in the 60’ following a handball call against James Madison in the box. The young Mancunian buried the shot with great composure to give the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead.
The final 30 minutes meant intense pressure from JMU as the Nittany Lions did everything they could to keep their opponents from scoring. James Madison finally broke through in the 85′ after a tremendous save from Levine in goal unfortunately fell right to Aaron Ward-Baptiste. The forward was able to get his foot to the ball first and salvage a goal for his side.
Ultimately, though, the Penn State defense just held on, notching the team’s fourth win of the season.
Player of the Match
Ethan Beckford | Freshman | Forward
The freshman from Manchester brought the Nittany Lion offense to life throughout the match, making runs in from an attacking midfield role and weaving in and out of defenders. His composed finish into the bottom corner in the 60′ gave Penn State a more comfortable advantage.
In its final home game of the season, Penn State will take on Northwestern on Sunday, October 29 at 12 p.m.