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Penn State Men’s Soccer Beats Maryland 3-2 In Overtime On Senior Night

No. 16 Penn State men’s soccer (10-2-3, 5-1-1 Big Ten) overcame defending national champions No. 17 Maryland (9-5-2, 3-2-2 Big Ten) 3-2 in overtime on Senior Night. In what could be considered a program defining performance for the team, the Nittany Lions solidified their place as an elite national challenger with their first victory over a ranked opponent in 2019.

Penn State scored through Brandon Hackenberg, Kyle May, and Christian Sload on the strikers last appearance on Jeffrey Field in regular season play. Justin Gielen and Eli Crognale scored for the Terrapins.

How It Happened

Jeff Cook once again relied on a different combination of eleven players to begin the match. The only change from the 4-0 win over Appalachian State was incorporating freshman Liam Butts back into the lineup.

Penn State began on the front foot and set the tempo in the first few minutes. However, all momentum came rushing to a halt in the tenth minute, when Maryland midfielder Crognale received a short drop pass at the top of the box. The senior, who is the brother of current Columbus Crew player Alex Crognale, curled his strike beyond the outstretched hand of Kris Shakes, resulting in an early 1-0 lead for the visitors.

Three minutes later, Gielen received the ball off of a Crognale shot. His effort was an opportunistic close range shot that deflected off of the Penn State defender, doubling Maryland’s lead before fans could get settled in at Jeffrey Field.

After the two-goal, three-minute barrage from the visitors, Penn State began to find its footing once more. In the 22nd minute, a gritty run from Jalen Watson down the left flank saw him get through three Terrapin defenders.

Watson found Christian Sload in the middle of the box, but his shot was tipped by a defender. Liam Butts volleyed the deflected ball, but was once again foiled. Maryland survived the ensuing goal line scrum to keep the two-goal cushion.

Penn State finally brought the match back within one goal in the 33rd minute. Aaron Molloy found Hackenberg on a long cross and the defender connected from close range, pounding his header past keeper Niklas Neumann for his first of the season. It was the first goal the Terrapins conceded in 337 minutes of play, dating all the way back to a 1-0 loss to Georgetown.

The celebrations lasted a mere five minutes for Hackenberg before the Palmyra, Virginia native was forced off of the field after taking a knock. Just a minute passed until a second starter, Sload, was forced to leave due to a bloodied nose. Luckily for the Nittany Lions, both players reentered the match at later points. The same cannot be said for Pierre Reedy, who limped off with assistance at a minute remaining in the first period.

The Nittany Lions tied the game in the 56th minute on a score from May. He latched onto the ball that squirted out from an initial goalmouth scrum to score his first goal of the year.

Minutes later, the Nittany Lions could have taken the lead through a Sload breakaway. To the dismay of the re-engaged fans, the senior’s effort went off the face of Neumann from point blank range. With 30 minutes remaining in the match between the two top 20 teams, Jeffrey Field had a full on playoff feel to it.

Throughout the second half, the Nittany Lions attempted more long balls as they were progressively more effective. The Terrapins were having trouble with the constant service, and had a few nervy moments in crunch time.

With one minute left in the match, Maryland nearly had a chance to win the game in heartbreaking fashion for the Nittany Lions. A rocket from goal scorer Crognale nearly thwarted Shakes, but the net minder was able to acrobatically palm the ball over the bar and sent the match to overtime.

Matzelevich nearly iced the game just over two minutes into overtime, but Shakes was able to smother the effort into the near post.

However, the match was finally iced with 32 seconds to go, as Sload found the back of the net from six yards. It was fitting that a senior of Sload’s stature could find a winner in his last moments of regular season action at Jeffrey Field.

In a game full of playoff implications, the end result will do nothing drastic to either team’s hopes. Both sides showed why they belong in the 48 team field in November. Penn State, however, will move closer to a coveted top 16 rank come NCAA Tournament time.

Player of the Match

Brandon Hackenberg | Redshirt Junior | Defender

The redshirt junior was the main reason the team hung around in the first half. Hackenberg was a force on both sides of the ball as he scored the first Penn State goal and shut down Terrapin attackers on defense. He once again proved his leadership in the back line alongside graduate student Will Campbell.

What’s Next?

No. 16 Penn State will conclude its regular season on Sunday against Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.

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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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