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Penn State Men’s Soccer Falls 1-0 To James Madison

Penn State men’s soccer (5-7-2) registered a single shot against an in-form James Madison University (10-3-2) squad in Harrisonburg Saturday, suffering its sixth defeat of the season by a final score of 1-0. 

Jeff Cook’s squad was frustrated by the Duke’s stifling midfield, and Carson Jeffris’s 86th-minute tap-in goal was enough to secure a win for the current  Colonial Athletic Association conference leaders.

How It Happened

James Madison opened Saturday’s match with confidence, spraying crisp passes across its immaculate, closely-cropped field. The Dukes notched three shots on goal against goalkeeper Arie Ammann inside the first twenty minutes of the match. 

Jeff Cook shuffled his starting lineup to include several usual substitutes, including Stephen Kenney, Mikey Conneh and Daniel Gonzalez. 

Despite Gonzalez’s trickery on the wing and Mac Curran’s offensive grappling, Penn State struggled to create offensive chances. Cook introduced more of his usual starters as the match wore on, but the Nittany Lions failed to register a shot on target in the first half. Stephen Kenney hoofed a goal-line clearance into midfield in the 13th minute, and James Madison’s dangerous forward Lewis Long IV almost connected with a cross at the back of the post in the final minute of the half.

Despite their offensive pressure, the Dukes failed to score before the break, and the teams entered halftime without a goal to separate them.

Although Penn State’s usual starting squad took the field in the second half, the match descended into a congested midfield brawl. Aaron Molloy and his midfield comrades attempted to play quick passes from the back, were forced to wallop an overhit long pass forward, and then collected TJ Bush’s goal kick to try it all again. 

The Dukes seemed poised to take the lead in the 59th minute, breaking forward quickly and cracking two consecutive shots off Ammann’s crossbar. But the Penn State defense managed to clear the ensuing rebound, and the stalemate continued. 

The Dukes broke the deadlock in the 86th minute, when Carson Jeffris latched onto Aaron Ward-Baptiste ‘s blocked shot and tucked a low finish past Ammann to score his fifth goal of the season. 

Penn State earned several corners in its desperate push forward for an equalizer in the final five minutes, but failed to find the back of the net, and fell to the Dukes with a final score of 1-0. 

Player of the Match

Aaron Ward-Baptiste| Senior|Forward

The Wiltshire, England native registered a team-high four shots against the Nittany Lions and was crucial in the buildup to Jeffris’s winning goal. 

What’s Next?

Penn State (5-7-2) face Maryland on the road October 23 at 6 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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