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No. 19 Penn State Men’s Soccer Dominates Appalachian State In 4-0 Rout

No. 19 Penn State (9-2-3, 4-1-1 Big Ten) took down Appalachian State (9-4-1, 2-1-0 Sun Belt) 4-0 under the lights Friday night to wrap up non-conference play.

A first-half goal from Liam Butts and quick second-half strikes from Josh Dabora and Aaron Molloy finished off Appalachian State despite a missed penalty from the captain. Daniel Gonzalez added the final touch for the Nittany Lions, providing the Mountaineers with their fourth loss of the season.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions began the match with two changes from the 1-1 draw against James Madison on Tuesday. Freshman striker Butts was replaced with Andrew Privett, who led the line alongside Christian Sload. Additionally, Kris Shakes returned to the starting lineup between the sticks at the expense of Josh Levine.

Penn State had the lion share of possession early on, earning three corners within the first eight minutes of play. Nothing challenged Appalachian State goalkeeper Jacob Madden in the early going, however.

Brandon Hackenberg nearly connected off of a well-delivered corner kick in the 21st minute. However, his header was steered a foot wide of Madden’s left post. The defender further imposed himself when Juan Hernandez was in on goal. Hackenberg stripped Hernandez and kept the ball in play, invigorating the home support.

The Mountaineers began to get into the match halfway through the opening period. Mayola Kinyua’s shot from distance was the biggest threat for Shakes.

In the 32nd minute, Butts entered the match and once again showed his quality for the home side. It took just 1:43 for the freshman to turn and fire a low shot into the left corner. The goal temporarily matched Butts with Molloy at the top of the team’s scoring charts at seven goals apiece.

An unremarkable first period saw Penn State take the lead off of Butts’ opportunistic shot. In the first 45 minutes, Kinyua’s airborne strike was the only Appalachian State attempt.

The Nittany Lions began the second half where they left off, dominating possession and the early chances.

Sload provided the best chance in the early going of the second half. Josh Dabora sacrificed his body to play the senior striker through, where Sload was taken down and awarded a penalty. The Mountaineers were lucky to get away from the play unscathed, as Molloy pushed the ensuing 12-yard attempt wide left.

The Nittany Lions made up for the penalty mistake just minutes later; Sload sent in a teasing cross from near the right corner flag, and Dabora’s cheeky flick was enough to thwart Madden to double the Penn State advantage. Dabora’s goal was the first of his college career and served as nice payback from Sload.

Molloy clinched the game moments later with a Goal of the Year contender to put his side up 3-0. The Irishman atoned for his penalty miss by rifling a 25 yard shot off the bar and into the top left corner of the net, tying Molloy with Michigan’s Nebosja Popovic atop the Big Ten scoring charts.

A fourth goal came with under two minutes remaining, as Costa Rican substitute Gonzalez struck from close range to add salt to Appalachian State’s wounds.

Penn State will head into the weekend with a Big Ten bye. The Nittany Lions will enter the last two conference matches in either first or second; one more result will ensure a home playoff game.

Player of the Match

Liam Butts | Freshman | Striker

It is remarkable that, without getting the start and spending only 20 minutes on the pitch, the freshman was undoubtedly the brightest spot in a languid Friday night match. In his 13 first-half minutes, Butts scored and nearly assisted.

Not only did Butts add to the stat sheet, but the Lawrenceville, Georgia native also provided a much-needed spark to put the game out of reach for the Mountaineers. At this point, it is safe to say that Butts is the leading candidate for Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

What’s Next?

No. 19 Penn State will host No. 22 Maryland in a pivotal Senior Night match-up next Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Jeffrey Field.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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