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Penn State Men’s Soccer Advances To Big Ten Final With 4-1 Win Over Michigan

No. 2 Penn State men’s soccer (8-1-1) beat No. 3 Michigan (6-4-1) 4-1 in the Big Ten semifinals at Jeffrey Field on Wednesday night.

Danny Bloyou, Peter Mangione, and Pierre Reedy all scored, and Liam Butts grabbed his first goal of the year with four minutes to play.

How It Happened

Michigan controlled the early proceedings at Jeffrey Field, but it took only one chance for Danny Bloyou to give Penn State the 1-0 lead.

The Nittany Lions received the ball in the middle of the field, playing it wide to Seth Kuhn. The Duke transfer fed a clever ball into the middle to Alex Stevenson, who flicked it into Bloyou. The team’s leading goalscorer continued his hot form by finding his way past Owen Finnerty for the opener.

The next 10 minutes went about the same way as the first seven. Michigan controlled the ball, made the Penn State defense relatively nervous but didn’t capitalize.

And the moment the Nittany Lions got a chance, they took it.

Peter Mangione got fouled trying to round the last defender and was comfortably within the 18-yard box to earn the penalty. The freshman promptly rifled it into the top left corner to double the advantage.

As soon as the second went in, the Nittany Lions showed a more dynamic version of themselves. Most importantly, the midfield began winning the majority of the contested plays and controlling the second balls.

However, the game’s odd trend continued. The Wolverines were able to cultivate a half chance off of a corner, and the ball took a weird bounce and dribbled across Kris Shakes’ goal line to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Nittany Lion wingbacks Jalen Watson and Femi Awodesu received yellow cards early in the first half due to the wing play of Michigan.

The Wolverines’ wingers were potent all first half, which made Jeff Cook decide whether to rotate Watson and Awodesu. Cook undoubtedly has faith in his young defenders, as they remained on the field to begin the second half.

The second 45 began a little slower than the first half, but Penn State did have a great chance through Bloyou roughly seven minutes in. Liam Butts found Tyger Evans, and the freshman rolled it behind the defense for Bloyou, who hit his shot just wide of Finnerty’s net.

Penn State looked most likely to put one away in the early going of the second half. Bloyou, Butts, and Stevenson all had half chances, and Evans scuffed at a sure-fire opportunity, but Michigan crucially maintained the one-goal deficit in the first 15 minutes.

In the 63rd minute, however, the Nittany Lions got their important third goal. Reedy did well to stay wide on the right side, and Mangione teed the captain up for the 3-1 advantage.

The Nittany Lions got a few more good chances in the attacking third, which was advantageous with the lead. By the time the 75th minute rolled around, anything that took time off the clock was positive for Cook’s team.

With just 14 minutes remaining, Kuhn had a chance to score a wonder-goal. Kuhn ripped a hard-driven strike to the upper-right corner, but he was far enough away for Finnerty to (barely) react.

The Nittany Lions began to best Michigan with their speed. The visitors sent numbers forward, leaving them wildly susceptible to the counterattack. In the 78th minute, Evans made up 10 yards on Michigan’s last man back, Umar Farouk Osman, and drew a yellow card from the defender.

Michigan threw the kitchen sink at Penn State, but in the end, it hurt the visitors. With four minutes left, Liam Butts scored on a tap-in to seal the deal.

Player Of The Match

Peter Mangione| Freshman |Striker

Any of the goalscorers could have received the nod today. Danny Bloyou was as electric as ever, Pierre Reedy played one of his best games this season, and Liam Butts was huge off the bench. However, Mangione’s tenacity and link-up play were vital in the win.

The freshman’s aggressiveness was most poignant when he got the penalty in the first half. Mangione didn’t quit and kept rounding defenders until one had to take him down.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions are one win away from a Big Ten title.

Penn State will face either Indiana or Maryland in the final. If the Hoosiers win, Cook’s side will travel to Bloomington. But if Maryland springs the upset, Jeffrey Field will host both the men’s and women’s finals.

The championship is set for Saturday on the Big Ten Network. The kickoff time is currently up in the air.

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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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