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Jeremy Rafanello Leads Penn State Men’s Soccer Past Wisconsin 1-0

Penn State Men’s Soccer notched its second Big Ten victory Sunday with a 1-0 win over Wisconsin at Jeffrey Field. 

The Nittany Lions held the upper hand throughout the game, but failed to score a go-ahead goal until the 80th minute when Jeremy Rafenello tallied his third strike of the season. 

How It Happened

Jeff Cook made a small but effective alteration to the 4-2-3-1 formation and starting lineup that beat Ohio State 3-1 last month, pushing Aaron Molloy further up the field as an attacking midfielder. 

The junior captain served a dangerous free kick into the Wisconsin penalty area early in the first half, but the resulting shot dribbled wide of Badgers goalkeeper Dean Cowdroy’s net. 

Ethan Beckford was at his best in the first half. The left winger terrorized Wisconsin right back Ben Leas with several signature dribbling runs. His right-footed curling shot came close to giving Penn State the lead in the 24th minute, but narrowly missed high.

The Nittany Lions struggled to break through Wisconsin’s compact defense and midfield throughout the half despite having the majority of ball possession. The Penn State defenders were forced to join the attackers in possession when they had the ball, spraying passes from side to side in search of an opening. 

Wisconsin’s best first-half chance came from Zac Klancnik’s long throw-in in the 38th minute. Micheal Russel latched onto the ball inside ten yards when the Nittany Lions failed to clear it, but his off-balance shot missed wide. Mac Curran beat his defender at the other end of the field six minutes later, but Cowdroy easily saved his shot. 

The Badgers and Nittany Lions entered halftime with three shots apiece but without a goal to separate them. 

The Nittany Lions and the Badgers traded free kick opportunities early in the second half, with both Brandon Hackenburg and Russel failing to hit the target. 

Austin Maloney began to drift wide in the second half, and served in several dangerous crosses that Penn State’s forwards failed to finish.

Both Ryan Gallagher and Beckford missed dangerous headed changes in the 75th minute. But The Nittany Lions took the lead with just over ten minutes to go through freshman striker Jeremy Rafanello. Molloy’s corner kick fell dangerously into the Badgers’ penalty area, and both Dani Marks and Callum Pritchatt wrestled to keep the ball in play before Rafanello slotted it past Cowdroy and a mass of Wisconsin defenders. 

Penn State’s defense remained solid throughout the final ten minutes.  Goalkeeper Josh Levine made an acrobatic save from a corner kick in the 44th minute to preserve the Nittany Lion’s shutout and victory with a final score of 1-0. 

Player of the Match

Dani Marks| Redshirt Senior| Center Back

Penn State’s captain rediscovered his best form against the Badgers after missing several games, leading Penn State’s backline to its third shutout of the season. He also played a crucial role in the buildup to Rafanello’s dramatic winning goal. 

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions (4-6-2) host Detroit Mercy Wednesday, October 17 at Jeffrey Field.

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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 or follow him on twitter @messijim.

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