Men’s Soccer Gets First Win Of Season Against James Madison
Penn State Men’s Soccer (1-1-1) made its home debut Friday night against James Madison. The Nittany Lions returned home with a draw and a loss from their California road trip last weekend. The Dukes entered Jeffrey Field coming off back-to-back home losses against Lehigh and NC State, and couldn’t manage to find even a draw in Happy Valley as Penn State opened its home slate with a 1-0 win.
How It Happened
The first chance of the game came when Dayonn Harris was fouled just outside the box. The Nittany Lions petitioned for a penalty kick, but wouldn’t get their wish until moments later when Connor Maloney shot the free kick straight into a James Madison hand in the wall. Maloney got the keeper to move early on the penalty kick, but chipped the shot off the bar.
Penn State had a good portion of the possession in the first half, but couldn’t manage to scrum up many chances. The Nittany Lions were lacking the last pass to set up opportunities in the final third and went into the half with the score tied 0-0.
Penn State finally broke the deadlock early in the second half. Harris was sent the ball down the left wing which he recovered and crossed to an onrushing Connor Maloney. Maloney had a diving header opportunity that was stopped, but he recovered and put away the rebound to give Penn State a 1-0 lead.
Penn State almost doubled the lead twice in the following minutes. Harris broke down the right wing and crossed centrally to Riley Grant at the top of the box. Grant took a shot that was stopped by James Madison goalkeeper Kyle Morton. Morton made another save on Harris after Pierre Reedy powered through the middle of the field and passed to Maloney who set up the shot for Harris.
The Nittany Lions had a flurry of great opportunities within the 65th minute. Connor Maloney charged down the left side of the box and served in a ball. Penn State got two shots off that Morton made brilliant saves on before Maloney retrieved the ball and ripped a shot off the crossbar from just outside the six yard box.
James Madison nearly equalized in an awkward moment for Penn State’s back line. James Madison ripped in a ball from outside the box that had goalkeeper Arie Ammann moving to his right. The ball deflected off Robby Sagel and was headed for goal, but Ammann stopped the own goal equalizer by quickly moving back across his body for the fingertip save. That was the key play of the game for Ammann, who was filling in for the injured Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Evan Finney.
James Madison turned up the pressure in the final minutes of the game and freshman Ammann was asked to step up to the challenge. He held firm in goal and Penn State managed to hold on for the 1-0 win.
Player Of The Game
Connor Maloney | Forward | Senior
Maloney scored the game-winning goal, but also was a huge force on offense, creating a number of opportunities and drawing a penalty kick.
The James Madison clash was the first of a four-game homestand that continues Monday against Oakland. Kick-off against the Golden Grizzlies will be Monday at 7 p.m.
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About the Author
Penn State earned a ranking in the preseason AP Top 25 poll for the third consecutive season.
The past five No. 15s in the preseason AP Top 25 poll have been a mixed bag of seven-loss mediocrity and 9-4 records, but the 2017 Georgia Bulldogs proved that starting at No. 15 isn’t all bad.
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