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No. 15 Penn State Men’s Soccer Falls To Providence In NCAA Tournament, Ends Season

No. 15 Penn State fell to Providence, 3-2, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Early second-half goals from Aaron Molloy and Kyle May weren’t enough to prevent a Providence comeback.

Trevor Davock’s 96th-minute golden goal sealed the win for Providence and sent the Nittany Lions packing.

How It Happened

Jeff Cook made only one lineup change from Penn State’s semifinal defeat in the Big Ten tournament. Josh Levine returned to action for presumed starting goalkeeper Kris Shakes, proving depth in each position once again.

The first early chance came off of a Pierre Reedy dribble. The right-winger slipped in Liam Butts, but the ball was too close to goalkeeper Austin Aviza.

Although Providence isn’t a ranked NCAA Tournament team, the Friars posted a 15-6-0 record en route to a Big East Championship loss to No. 3 Georgetown. The visitors matched Penn State’s standard of play early on, showing that their resume was well worth the at-large bid.

Providence nearly made something out of nothing with 10 minutes left in the first half. Tiago Mendonca’s effort was shanked wide to the relief of the exposed Nittany Lion defense.

In the 41st minute, the home side felt it should have earned a penalty, but the referee ignored the appeals.

Despite the two sides’ resumes, a boring first half resulted in zero goals and just six shots between the two sides. Although Penn State appeared more comfortable in possession, the Nittany Lions only accounted for just one of the shots. Avisa didn’t have any saves in the opening 45 minutes.

It took fewer than five second-half minutes for Penn State to unleash its superstars. Molloy opened the scoring just minutes into the closing 45 and collected his first goal of the day.

The Nittany Lions doubled their lead moments later. A defensive trackback on the left flank following a Penn State corner opened up the Friar backline. May was in the right spot to tuck away a toe-poke to double the Lions lead.

The action-packed start to the second half continued. In the 55th minute, Esben Wolf cut the lead in half, connecting on the far post from a Trevor Davock pass. The flurry of goals — three in five minutes — at the beginning of the second half set the stage for a true NCAA Tournament showdown.

Halfway through the second period, a clever free kick was rolled across the top of the box to Seth Kuhn, however, the sophomore’s strike was palmed away by Aviza.

With 10 minutes to play, Penn State had a chance to seal the deal. Sload’s attempt from short-range popped out to Kuhn. Kuhn had a good look on goal from the penalty spot, but once again Friar goalkeeper Aviza kept Providence alive.

Aviza’s saves would come in handy. With 4:32 on the clock and the Friar season in jeopardy, Mendonca forced in a close-range finish past Levine, leveling the score at 2 to the dismay of the home fans at Jeffrey Field.

The last gasp effort from Providence forced the match into overtime. The Friars showed their resolve, coming back from two goals down in tournament play.

Providence began overtime in pole position, forcing Levine to make two saves within the first two minutes of the extra period. The veteran goalie successfully corralled the ball both times, keeping the Nittany Lions alive.

The Friars’ pressure was too much to handle, and two minutes later Davock rocketed the ball past Levine, ending Penn State’s season in heartbreaking fashion.

Player of the Match

Christian Sload | Senior | Striker

It was a match that didn’t light up the stat sheet from either team. However, the veteran striker was a constant harassment along Providence’s backline. The senior didn’t need a goal to stand out; Sload turned provider after going on a late-season scoring spree.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions’ season is now over following their NCAA Tournament defeat.

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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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