Men’s Soccer Needs Late Goal to Beat Akron 1-0
After a recent slide that saw the team lose four out of its last five games, the Penn State men’s soccer team got a much-needed confidence boost heading into the Big Ten Tournament with a 1-0 win against Akron on Wednesday night. The win was the first against the Zips since 2004.
Penn State had the better first half of the two teams, notching six shots compared to Akron’s three . However, Zip goalkeeper Jake Fenlason kept Akron in the game with four saves in the half.
Penn State goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton was much busier in the second half, as Akron tallied 10 shots. Despite the Zips apparent advantage in the half, the Nittany Lions were able to capitalize on a cross from Riley Grant to Mikey Minutillo in the 81st minute to put Penn State ahead for good. An Akron turnover at midfield gave Grant the ball in the Zips’ corner, who then crossed to Minutillo in the box. Minutillo headed it past the Akron keeper for his seventh goal. Grant, an Akron transfer, picked up his second assist of the year.
“I’m excited for Riley,” head coach Bob Warming said. “He’s worked hard and he’s playing better. He’s got some talent. Maybe the role we had him in today was a little bit better than what we’ve tried before.”
A late furious comeback attempt by the Zips fell short thanks to several key saves from Wolverton, and Penn State snuck away with a 1-0 victory to end the regular season. Thanks to Wolverton’s ninth shutout of the year, the Nittany Lions finish their regular season with a 12-4-1 record.
Despite leading the conference for much of the season, the team finished tied for second in the final conference standings. Because of tiebreakers, Penn State has earned the fourth seed in the Big Ten tournament. The Nittany Lions begin tournament play against No. 5 seed Michigan State this Sunday at Jeffrey Field.