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Penn State Men’s Soccer Overcomes Northwestern 3-2 in Overtime

Penn State men’s soccer (6-2-2) snuck by Northwestern (5-6-2) 3-2 at Jeffrey Field Saturday night.

Despite Northwestern being reduced to 10 men in the early going, the Wildcats took the lead through a Max Moderwell goal in the 50th minute. Callum Pritchatt and Liam Butts scored in the 57th and 62nd minutes, respectfully, to give the Nittany Lions the lead. With the match all but wrapped up for Penn State, Northwestern equalized in the dying moments through substitute Mattias Tomasino.

It took eight minutes of overtime for Butts to score the game-clinching goal, avoiding a scare at Jeffrey Field.

How It Happened

With a full eleven players back at Jeff Cook’s disposal, Penn State reverted to a 4-4-2 formation. Two Nittany Lions received their first start of the season, continuing a trend of Jeff Cook not sticking to a first choice XI.

Redshirt sophomore Nicholas Rieple replaced Brandon Hackenberg in the backline after the usual starter picked up a red card against Indiana in the previous match for the Nittany Lions. Kyle May slotted into the midfield alongside captain Aaron Molloy, at the expense of Callum Pritchatt.

In the 18th minute, Liam Butts was played through on goal for a one on one with goalkeeper Miha Miskovic. The freshman forward was taken down five yards outside the box by Julian Zighelboim in a near identical tackle to the Hackenberg challenge seen the previous weekend. Zighelboim saw red from referee Charles Murphy, just five minutes after the Penn State defender got his walking orders against Indiana.

With 20 minutes left in the half, Wildcat Matt Moderwell scuffed a shot on a breakaway. Penn State countered moments later, forcing a hustle play from the outmanned Northwestern defense. Christian Sload, just moments after entering the match, headed wide from close range on the ensuing corner kick.

A sustained spell of possession for the Nittany Lions nearing 10 minutes left in the opening period resulted in Seth Kuhn firing a shot from the top of the box. The Duke transfer had another chance four minutes later, sending his volley just wide of Miskovic’s net.

Northwestern had their best chance of the half on a free kick near the right corner flag. A lofted ball connected with a Wildcat within the six yard box, but did not test Levine.

Five minutes into the closing period, Moderwell made something out of nothing, spinning away from three Nittany Lion defenders and slotting the ball into the right corner of Levine’s goal, shocking the hosts to take the lead 1-0. The goal was the first shot on goal from either side.

Penn State responded well five minutes later, but a defender thwarted Butts’ attempt from ten yards after strong build up play on the right side of the field.

Nearing the hour mark, Penn State saw its man advantage finally pay off, capturing two goals within five minutes. Campbell’s long ball found the Pritchatt at the top of the box, where the Englishman curled a shot around Miskovic. In the 62nd minute, Reedy beat Jayson Cyrus on the left goal line, and cut the ball back to Butts; the freshman collected his fourth goal of the season after wriggling past the defense, firing into the top right corner.

Murphy denied Sload two different penalty calls during the scoring spree for the Nittany Lions, giving the crowd reason to become more boisterous. Penn State capitalized on the momentum, recording eight shots in a fifteen minute stretch in the middle of the second half.

Sload attempted to chip Miskovic on a fast break with 20 minutes left; the Serbian net minder nearly paid for playing the role of sweeper keeper all night long.

Penn State’s play got increasingly courageous as the clock ran down, with substitutes Pritchatt, Andrew Privett and Josh Dabora linking up well. The Lions had many chances to finish the game off, but failed to seize the opportunity.

The lack of finishing prowess caught up to the Nittany Lions with four minutes remaining. A long free kick found the head of Tomasino, who foiled Levine to level the match.

Reedy had a chance with a mere eight seconds left, but his shot hit the outside netting, forcing the match to overtime.

Molloy struck towards goal eight minutes in to the first overtime period, and Miskovic could only paw it directly to Butts, who calmly scored the walk off for his fifth goal of the campaign. After Butts’ overtime goal at Ohio State earlier in September, his winner on Saturday marked the freshman’s second brace and second golden goal of the season.

While a win is a win, Cook and the squad will feel relieved to have beaten a lower tier Big Ten side. Based on other results in the conference, Penn State can return to the top of the table.

Player of the Match

Aaron Molloy|Senior|Midfielder

Molloy facilitated the middle of the field well for the Nittany Lions, recording six shots and providing the link between the defenders and goal-scorers.

His overtime volley was enough to force the game winning goal for Butts. While Molloy didn’t get on the scoring chart, his presence was enough to prove that the captain is a Big Ten First Team caliber player.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will play Pitt on Tuesday, October 15 at 7 p.m. at Jeffrey Field to conclude their three game home-stand.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a freshman majoring in print journalism. He lives just outside of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Unfortunately, that means a lot of sadness. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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