Conner Maloney Gives Penn State a 1-0 Win Over Rutgers
This year’s No. 4 Penn State men’s soccer team is one of the best teams the University has had in years. In fact, the last time the program got off to this hot of a start was in 1984, when it went undefeated in its first 10 games with a tie as the only blemish on an otherwise perfect record. Then the team played Rutgers in its 11th game — the Nittany Lions lost even with a home field advantage.
Coincidentally, this was the exact same position that the 2014 team found itself in on Saturday night. Once again, the team was 9-0-1, home at Jeffrey Field, and facing Rutgers. However, this time Penn State came out on top. The Nittany Lions beat the Scarlet Knights 1-0 thanks to a Connor Maloney goal in the 79th minute.
The game itself featured an explosive Penn State offense, but credit Rutgers’ goalkeeper David Greczek for a strong performance in the loss. The Nittany Lions ended with a total of 22 shots — nine on goal — and Greczek finished with seven saves.
“I think we clicked offensively,” head coach Bob Warming said after the game. “I thought we were great. We got 22 shots, and they weren’t wild shots from 35 yards out. I don’t know many college soccer teams that can play like we did tonight.”
The game looked like it was destined to end 0-0 until the 79th minute, when Brian James sent a long ball forward to Maloney, who outran the defenders and put it past Greczek for his Big Ten-leading eighth goal of the season.
“I saw the ball in flight, and Coach has always said ‘Be a beast at all times,'” Maloney said. “”Regardless if you’re small or not, I don’t care, win the ball, do whatever it takes to get the ball’ and I did. I got under [the defender], shoved him a little bit, got my chance in front of goal and I slid it home.”
It was a combination of this goal, suffocating defense, and a stellar performance by goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton (two saves) that kept history from repeating itself.
The win also propels the 2014 team into the school record books. The 10-0-1 record that this unit has earned is the best 11-game start in program history.
The Nittany Lions have a long-awaited week off before taking on Maryland on Sunday, Oct. 12.