Men’s Soccer Draws 2-2 Against No. 22 Akron
Penn State (6-6-2, 3-3 Big Ten) took the field Tuesday night against the always-dangerous No. 22 Akron Zips. The Zips (7-4-2) came into the night nationally ranked and hot off a 7-0 win against Northern Illinois. The Nittany Lions had a lead late, but conceded and tied the Zips in overtime.
How It Happened
Akron took the field and immediately showed strong interplay and an ability to cut through Penn State’s defense. Penn State turned the tide quickly, though, consistently carving its way through the Zips’ defense. It was at a stalemate until Dayonn Harris found himself in with only one defender to beat about three minutes into the game, but Akron’s goalkeeper saved the shot comfortably.
A few minutes later, Harris picked off a pass on the goal kick, dribbled passed the keeper, but was unable to finish on an open net.
The Nittany Lions were plagued by an inability to finish in the first half.
Against the run of play, midfielder Pau Belena played a long ball forward from the Akron half which deflected off of the outstretched foot of a Penn State defender, and fell to Stuart Holthusen — who found himself with plenty of space and only the goalie to beat. Holthusen made his way past Evan Finney and touched the ball in for the first goal of the night. Penn State players and coaches clamored for an offsides call which never came.
Both sides saw a few more opportunities before the close of the half, but the score remained 1-0 going into the break. Akron came out in the second half on the front foot, pinning Penn State in its own third for the opening minutes. The Nittany Lions defense, however, didn’t break in the face of pressure.
Back and forth play throughout the second half seemed to take the life out of the game. In the 66th minute, midfielder Noah Pilato made something out of nothing and beat a few Akron defenders dropped the ball off to Connor Maloney. Maloney curled a beautiful shot from just outside of the 18-yard box up and around Akron’s 6-foot 7-inch keeper, tying the game at 1-1.
In the 75th minute, a breakaway allowed Riley Grant some space along the left wing, and he took a shot that bounced around in the box, eventually finding its way to Connor Maloney. Maloney took possession of the ball and slotted it home, giving the Nittany Lions a 2-1 lead.
Akron came right back in the 81st minute, as Holthusen scored his second goal of the match to knot it up at 2-2.
Harris had the first clear chance of the first overtime period as a great pass sprung him through the last line of the Akron defense, but a brilliant piece of last-second defending kept him from getting a shot off. The second half of the overtime was scoreless, leading to a 2-2 draw.
Player of the Game
Connor Maloney | Forward | Senior
Connor Maloney was the standout for the Nittany Lions, scoring the team’s only two goals at crucial times. Maloney breathed life into the Penn State side with his first goal, sparking more inventive play from the rest of the team. His second goal almost proved to be the game winner.
The Nittany Lions play Big Ten foe Rutgers at home on Friday night at 7 p.m.