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Beckford’s Header Lifts Penn State Men’s Soccer To 1-0 Win Over Bowling Green

Penn State men’s soccer notched its first victory of the season with a 1-0 win over Bowling Green Tuesday. 

Ethan Beckford’s 80th-minute header and a lockdown defensive effort led by captain Dani Marks was enough to push the Nittany Lions past the Falcons in a cagey match at Jeffrey Field. 

How It Happened

Jeff Cook made only one change to the starting lineup that kicked off against UCF last Friday, replacing center back Mason Deeds with Dani Marks. 

The Nittany Lions came close to opening the scoring in the fourth minute, when Jeremy Rafanello latched on to a Bowling Green defender’s errant pass and backheeled the ball to Aaron Molloy. Molloy burst into the penalty area at full speed, but his shot was blocked. 

After an initial flurry of chances, Bowling Green settled into a compact  defensive shape and waited for the opportunity to launch a counter attack. Penn State struggled to create attacking opportunities, and Falcons forward Tate Robinson’s curling shot forced Josh Levine to make a diving save at the back post. 

Callum Pritchatt’s low cross found Austin Maloney alone in Bowling Green’s penalty area, but Falcons goalkeeper Anthony Mwembia’s quick reaction save denied him from close range and the two teams entered the halftime break without a goal to separate them. 

Jeremy Rafanello found Ethan Beckford in space on a counter attack in the 61st minute, but the Manchester native’s left-footed shot missed high. The Nittany Lions then weathered a slew of corner kicks — Bowling Green earned seven in the second half — and Falcon attacking chances thanks to several last-ditch tackles from Marks. 

Penn State’s breakthrough came in the 80th minute, when Ryan Gallagher served a high cross to Beckford at the back post. Beckford outjumped his man and lifted a headed shot over Mwembia to break the deadlock. 

The Nittany Lions then survived a nervy final ten minutes to win 1-0 and notch the first victory of Jeff Cook’s tenure. 

Player of the Match

Dani Marks| Redshirt Senior| Center Back

Penn State’s co-captain led an organized backline to its first shutout of the season, and made several clutch tackles and blocks inside the penalty area. 

What’s Next?

Penn State (1-1) travels to Kingston Friday, August 31 to face Rhode Island. 

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About the Author

Jim Davidson

Jim is a junior English and history major and the features editor for Onward State. He, like most of the Penn State undergraduate population, is from 'just outside Philadelphia,' and grew up in Spring City, Pennsylvania. He covers a variety of Penn State topics, but spends nine months of every year waiting for the start of soccer season. You can reach him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @messijim.

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