No. 12 Men’s Soccer Wins 2-1 on Mikey Gonzalez’s Overtime Golazo
On a Sunday in which nothing seemed certain, defender Michael Gonzalez’s golden goal was simultaneously improbable and a no-doubter.
Senior Day, THON soccer day, and a three-game losing streak all stared the men down as they walked on to Jeffrey Field to try and follow up a dominant performance from the women on a windy afternoon. It started well enough, with star Connor Maloney feeding Drew Klingenberg on a chipped pass inside the box that the latter smashed into the top right corner to give Penn State a 17th-minute lead against a Wisconsin team that had not won a game in the Big Ten this year.
From that moment on, the game got sloppy. Several unnecessary fouls and lots of ugly turnovers and missed opportunities characterized the next 70-plus minutes. Wisconsin managed to equalize in the 4oth minute on a Joe Naughton goal that came off Mikey Gonzalez’s left side and ended up in the bottom right of the net. Gonzalez would get his revenge later on.
With a brutal wind preventing any aerial game or strong clearance, the Lions continued to threaten periodically. They outshot Wisconsin 12-5 in regulation, and several attempts were just short of breaking the tie, including a ball in front of the face of goal that found nobody and another that Mikey Minutillo just could not manage to get a strong shot on. The Lions pressed hard in the last 10 minutes, but ultimately could not break the tie in regulation, unable to take advantage of a last-gasp corner kick. Many fans started leaving after the 90th minute before realizing that, while the rules of college soccer preclude injury and added time, they do include two sudden-death, 10-minute overtime periods. That’s where the game truly found itself.
Though the first overtime period included the same pressure they had been trying to apply all day, there was no obvious breakthrough looming for the Lions. Then, Gonzalez took matters into his own hands after the first 104 minutes failed to produce much luster.
Brian James, who was all over the pitch in the second half and overtime, threw the ball in to right back Michael Gonzalez, who was starting for the injured Owen Griffith. Wisconsin gave Gonzalez room to operate, and he made it pay. The redshirt junior took two touches and fired an audacious shot on goal from 30 yards out that would make Ibra blush. The shot appeared to take a slight deflection, but nonetheless beat UW’s Casey Beyers for the game-winner. It was Gonzalez’s first career goal, and it was an absolute cracker.
Penn State will take on No. 25 Northwestern in Evanston for its final game, as it try to keep its momentum going approaching the Big Ten Tournament.