Penn State Men’s Soccer Defeats Indiana 3-0 To Win Big Ten Tournament
Penn State men’s soccer (13-6-1) completed the Big Ten double with a 3-0 win over Indiana (14-5-1) in Sunday’s Big Ten Tournament championship at Jeffrey Field.
Seth Kuhn’s deflected shot in the 36th minute got the Nittany Lions off the mark before Tyger Evans and Pierre Reedy clinched the win with second-half goals. Kris Shakes posted his third straight shutout in the Big Ten Tournament.
How It Happened
Jeff Cook once again rolled out his first-choice starting eleven for the championship match. Femi Awodesu once again partnered with Brandon Hackenberg in the backline, and the Liam Butts-Peter Mangione strike partnership was favored, with Danny Bloyou coming off the bench.
While not necessarily controlling the opening phases of the match, Indiana definitely had the better chances. Herbert Endeley showed how dangerous he is on the wing, as the speedy junior got in behind Jalen Watson and forced a Kris Shakes save just two minutes into the match.
Much of the first half was spent in Penn State’s side of the field, and it was clear the Hoosiers weren’t going to sit back and absorb pressure despite the Nittany Lions tournament rank.
The main problem for Penn State in the first quarter of the match was the lack of possession. Penn State’s defensive clearances were essentially punts, as Indiana’s defense was recovering every loose ball, just to send it right back towards Shakes’ goal.
Danny Bloyou’s sneakiness seemed like the best weapon for Penn State, and in the 30th minute, the substitute rounded the Indiana defense and forced Roman Celentano’s first laborious save with a hard shot.
After soaking up a lot of pressure, the Nittany Lions began to stamp their authority on the match after the half-hour mark. In the 36th minute, the ball was played into Danny Bloyou inside the six-yard box. With his back to goal, the senior couldn’t turn on his defender and elected to find Seth Kuhn at the top of the 18. The red-hot midfielder’s strike ricocheted off a defender and past a helpless Celentano for the 1-0 lead.
Interestingly, Cook decided to start Keegan Ness and Evans in the second half. Both substitutions made sense, considering Kyle May had a lot to do in the first half, and Evans was the catalyst for the opening goal for Penn State.
The subs paid off for Cook and Penn State. In the 56th minute, after the Nittany Lions began the half on the front foot, Evans received the ball on the left side of the box. Evans, arguably the shiftiest player in the whole Big Ten, dusted Nyk Sessock, and passed it delicately beyond Celentano for the second goal.
Unsurprisingly, Yeagley’s Indiana had to push numbers forward down two goals. The Nittany Lions got chances on the break, but good last-ditch defending from Spencer Glass kept the scoreline somewhat manageable for the Hoosiers.
Indiana kept things interesting in the final 20 minutes. Shakes was forced to make an acrobatic save with 17 minutes to play on a dangerous cross, and moments later was forced to corral the ball with multiple Hoosiers in the box.
Indiana didn’t look particularly dangerous in the run of play, although the Hoosiers had their fair share of set pieces. In the 83rd minute, Endeley was brought down just outside the box to set up a nervy free-kick from short range. However, Glass couldn’t make the most of the gilt-edged opportunity, with his delivery not getting past the first Penn State defender.
As Indiana’s hopes were looking slimmer and slimmer, the Nittany Lions sealed the deal in the 85th minute. Peter Mangione found Pierre Reedy in the box with a deft chess pass, and Reedy slotted the third beyond Celentano.
Indiana valiantly tried to get a consolation goal in the end, but the Nittany Lions saw the game out for their first tournament championship since 2005.
Player Of The Match
Seth Kuhn, Midfielder
The man in form did it again! Seth Kuhn has been on fire for the Nittany Lions, and he scored the opener, albeit with a little help. The goal marks Kuhn’s fifth in as many games.
However, the score wasn’t Kuhn’s only bright spot. He was the definition of a midfield maestro, spraying the ball to his teammates the whole afternoon and keeping the offense going. Kuhn will be huge for the Nittany Lions in the NCAA Tournament.
Penn State will know its NCAA Tournament fate on Monday when the Selection Show will take place at 1 p.m. The first round will be played on Thursday, November 18. However, if the Nittany Lions receive a first-round bye, they will get to rest until Sunday, November 21.
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