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Penn State Men’s Soccer Continues Unbeaten Streak With 2-0 Victory Over Detroit Mercy

Penn State Men’s Soccer (5-6-2) notched its third consecutive win with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Detroit Mercy Wednesday at Jeffrey Field. 

Goals from Brandon Hackenberg and Mac Curran sealed a dominant non-conference victory for the Nittany Lions. 

How It Happened

As darkness settled over Jeffrey Field, the Nittany Lions took the field with a brisk wind at their back and established their dominance early. 

Penn State brought the deserved swagger of a team on a three-game unbeaten streak to Wednesday’s match. Outside backs Ryan Gallagher and Brennan Ireland, freed from their usual defensive duties against the struggling Titans, roamed forward as second wingers — overlapping Ethan Beckford and Austin Maloney whenever possible. 

Aaron Molloy left his usual stamp on the match with pinpoint free kicks, imaginative passing and dangerous shooting. He occupied his usual roles as first defender, team organizer and attacking magician with creative vigor, filling the glaring space between Detroit’s midfield and defense like water. 

His lofted effort in the 11th minute gave Detroit Mercy’s 5-foot-8-inch goalkeeper Evan Mazurek trouble when it bounced vertically off the crossbar and to the feet of Brandon Hackenberg, who tapped the ball into an empty net to put the Nittany Lions up 1-0. Devin Mendez replaced Mazurek in net fifteen minutes later.

Penn State didn’t let up. Dani Marks built off the titanic form he established against Wisconsin, confidently mopping up the few Titan attacks his back line faced in the first half. 

Striker Mac Curran doubled the Nittany Lions’ lead in the 36th minute, blasting Callum Pritchatt’s deflected shot into the roof of Mendez’s net. Ethan Beckford, playing with his usual dribbling fury, turned his defender in the 45th minute and forced Mendez to make a sliding save.

Penn State entered halftime with a 2-0 goal lead and nine shots to the Titans’ three. 

Jeff Cook’s side maintained its offensive tenacity in the early stages of the second half. Rafanello, starting on the right wing, cut inside and dragged a left-footed shot just outside the post. Six minutes later, Callum Pritchatt’s tight turn and acceleration propelled him into the Titans’ penalty area, but his shot was comfortably saved at an angle. 

Though Penn State surrendered some of its possession as the half continued, the backline continued to limit the Titans’ attacking opportunities. Goalkeeper Arie Amann faced no shots on target. 

Jeff Cook replaced his entire starting lineup throughout the second half, giving usual substitutes such as Daniel Gonzales a run out. The technical Costa Rican winger came close to improving his two-goal tally on the season in the 80th minute, when he forced Mendez to make an acrobatic save to tip his shot from distance over the bar. Gallagher’s shot from the resulting corner hit the post and stayed out. 

Penn State’s defense withstood several late Titans attacks to secure the victory for the Nittany Lions with a final score of 2-0. 

Player of the Match

Brandon Hackenberg| Junior|Center Back

The Palmyra, Virginia native scored his first career goal and played several impressive passes from Penn State’s defensive third against the Titans.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions (5-6-2) travel to Harrison, Virginia Saturday, October 20 to face James Madison University. 

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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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