Penn State And Navy Draw 1-1 After Two Overtimes
Penn State (1-0, 0-0) entered Sunday’s contest riding a wave of momentum after a 1-0 victory in the season opener over San Francisco on Friday. In front of an announced crowd of 1,590, two sessions of overtime were needed, but Penn State and Navy ended the contest with a 1-1 draw. Let’s take a look at how Sunday’s action unfolded.
How It Happened
The Nittany Lions struggled early on the offensive front, and allowed Navy to find some good looks early on thanks to sloppy passing around the midfield area. Matt Bersano, who recorded his first clean sheet as a member of Penn State, kept things even with a trio of easy saves — two of which came off grounded shots.
Freshman Mac Curran — who scored his first collegiate goal last game against San Francisco — had a potential breakaway disrupted by two Navy defenders after he was unable to corral the high through ball. Issues seemed to be stemming from the midfield area, as Penn State’s midfielders struggled to send the ball upfield despite having open men in position.
Penn State’s best opportunity of the first half came when senior midfielder Brian James, stationed at the top of the box, threaded a pass to a charging Connor Maloney, whose nearside shot was deflected out by the Navy goalkeeper. The reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year had a few beautiful cuts upfield, but was unable to get his team on the board.
On a defensive note, Bersano channeled German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer with an impressive play on a ball far outside the penalty area, helping Penn State regain possession. Despite steady goalkeeping, Penn State lacked a presence offensively in the first half, and was outshot by Navy 5-1.
The second half started slowly for both sides, but the Nittany Lions found an offensive groove with back-to-back scoring looks from just outside the penalty area, coming from Connor Maloney and Drew Klingenberg. Maloney was taken down in the box shortly after, allowing him to rectify his earlier miss. Maloney buried the penalty kick deep into the right corner, giving the sophomore sensation his first goal of the young 2015 season, while also putting Penn State ahead 1-0.
Penn State’s spotty passing improved substantially in the second half, with crisp short passes and well-placed long balls replacing the first half display of erratic ball placement.
The one-goal lead didn’t last long for Penn State, as Navy stormed back down the field to net the equalizer. The two sides remained deadlocked at the final whistle, and needed overtime to determine a winner.
A Penn State foul just outside the box led to a Navy direct kick, but the attempt was deflected by Bersano, who had himself a phenomenal first overtime. A combination of heat and fatigue led to the deterioration of play as play progressed, and despite a few good looks from both sides, a second overtime was needed.
Led by Connor Maloney, the Penn State attack looked sure to net the winner, but the team was unable to put together a complete drive. With minor injuries mounting, and fouls accumulating, the two sides ended the contest with a 1-1 draw.
Player Of The Game
Connor Maloney, who scored his first goal of the season on a second half penalty kick, earns Player of the Game honors for his efforts against Navy. Maloney was the primary source of offense for Penn State, giving his team a handful of looks throughout the game — including a first half bullet that ricocheted off the keeper’s glove. Maloney is one of the best young forwards in the country, and put his prowess with the ball on display, breaking out an array of nifty moves and accurate shooting.
Tweet Of The Game
GOAL! Connor Maloney buries the PK into the right corner of the net, giving Penn State a 1-0 lead.
— Onward Sports (@OnwardStSports) August 30, 2015
Connor Maloney, Penn State’s leading goalscorer in 2014, netted his first of the year after burying a second half penalty kick to put Penn State ahead 1-0. Matt Bersano allowed his first goal of the season, but made three commanding saves that kept the Nittany Lions even with Navy through regulation. Bersano added three more stellar stops during the first overtime period, including a save on a screaming direct-kick that looked like a sure bet to sneak through.
Next up for Penn State will be a matchup on the road against Temple, which will be played at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 4.
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