Penn State Men’s Soccer Falls 1-0 To No. 5 Michigan State

Penn State men’s soccer suffered its first conference defeat of the season Wednesday against fifth-ranked Michigan State at Jeffrey Field. 

Penn State failed to convert from several rare but dangerous attacking chances, and John Freitag’s 75th-minute strike sealed a dominant victory for the visitors. 

How It Happened

Wednesday’s match began at a furious end-to-end pace as the Spartans and Nittany Lions tested each other. 

Michigan State’s Dejuan Jones latched onto an errant back pass in the ninth minute, dribbled into the Penn State penalty area, and forced Josh Levine to make a point-blank save with a powerful shot.

The Spartans’ fraternal duo Guiseppe and Hunter Barone began to exert their influence on the game from midfield as soon as the initial chaos of the early stage subsided. Joint Michigan State top-scorers Jones and Ryan Sierakowski looked dangerous cutting inside from the wings. 

Christian Sload found Ethan Beckford with a cross in the 25th minute, but the winger’s volley was blocked and Michigan State broke forward on the counterattack. Guiseppe Barone chipped a neat through pass to his brother inside the Penn State penalty area, who forced Levine to make a diving save with a powerful volley.

Penn State created several further counterattacks and gained a foothold in possession during the last ten minutes of the period, but Nittany Lions goalkeeper Josh Levine’s performance stole the spotlight. He made five first-half saves against a Michigan State offense that has scored 21 goals this season — including several point-blank stops against solid efforts from Barone and Jones — to preserve Penn State’s shutout into halftime. 

Sierakowski found space at the top of the Penn State area and sent a powerful shot into Levine’s arms in the 60th minute. Levine couldn’t hold onto the ball, but Michigan State forward Micheal Miller’s follow up shot was blocked on the goal line by Austin Maloney. 

Penn State’s best opportunity of the match came in the 66th minute from an Aaron Molloy corner kick. 2017 Big Ten goalkeeper of the year Jimmy Hague saved a close-range Mikey Conneh shot to preserve his team’s shutout. 

Michigan State broke the deadlock in the 75th minute. Guiseppe Barone’s fancy footwork at the top of the box made space for Freitag, who collected Barone’s pass and sent an unstoppable shot past Levine and into the left side of the net. 

Penn State pressed forward desperately in the final ten minutes of the half. Ethan Beckford drew a foul at the edge of the Michigan State penalty area in the 84th minute, and Callum Pritchatt’s low effort from the resulting free kick forced Hague to make an impressive diving save. 

Penn State failed to convert from several late corner kicks, and the Spartans held on to win 1-0 and remain undefeated in the Big Ten. 

Player of the Match

Guiseppe Barone| Senior| Central Midfielder

Michigan State’s dominant central midfielder executed the cleanest Cruyff turn Jeffrey Field has seen in years before assisting John Freitag in the 75th minute. His performance set the tempo for the Spartans’ attack, and prevented the Nittany Lions from creating dangerous attacking chances. 

What’s Next?

Penn State (2-5-1), face Indiana on the road Sunday, September 30 at 1 p.m.

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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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