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No. 21 Penn State Men’s Soccer Opens Season With 1-1 Tie Against Rhode Island

No. 21 Penn State men’s soccer (0-0-1) finished its first game of the season with a 1-1 draw against Rhode Island on Thursday night at Jeffrey Field.

Sophomore Sean Bettenhausen captured his first career goal and the Nittany Lions’ only score of the night against the Rams. Kris Shakes made five massive saves in goal to keep a high-intensity Rhode Island offense square at one all.

How It Happened

Head coach Jeff Cook rolled out an experienced lineup against the Rams. With the exception of freshman defender Sam Ovesen, every other Nittany Lion veteran starter had seen their fair share of minutes at Jeffrey Field.

Penn State created its first opportunity at goal in the third minute of the match. Junior Tyger Evans crossed a ball to Peter Mangione’s feet at the penalty spot, but Mangione couldn’t get a shot off. Despite that, the Nittany Lions dominated the offensive momentum in the opening minutes.

Nittany Lion goalkeeper Kris Shakes first saw action in the ninth minute off a shot from Rhode Island’s Patrick Gryczewski. The Ram beat Ovesen down the sideline to earn an opportunity against Shakes. The senior goalkeeper dove on top of the low-driven shot and confidently kept the score even at zero.

The game started to get slightly physical at the 15-minute mark when both the Nittany Lions and Rams traded free kicks. Rhode Island began to find its rhythm, forcing Penn State to foul.

After 25 minutes of play, Rhode Island was dominating possession and momentum. The Rams put up four shots in contrast to the Nittany Lions’ zero and took advantage of the Penn State defense in transition.

Kuhn created an opportunity for Penn State in the 33rd minute along with Mangione. Kuhn found himself with space right outside of the penalty box and sent a lofting pass to Mangione. Mangione had the same idea but was several steps too early and picked up an offside call right in front of Rhode Island goaltender Max Hinke.

In the closing minute of the first half, Kuhn and freshman Cohen Weaver forced a turnover in Rhode Island’s defensive third of the field. Kuhn connected with Mangione inside the penalty box and Mangione played the ball off to Bettenhausen. The sophomore pulled off a shot but couldn’t place it on target.

Penn State finally found its groove in the last 10 minutes of the half but couldn’t convert. The game remained tied 0-0 to close out the opening half.

The Nittany Lions came out of the locker room fired up. Liam Butts beat the Rhode Island defense right after the whistle and forced Ram goalkeeper Hinke to come out of the penalty box and deny the attempt.

Penn State finally found the net in the 47th minute. The Nittany Lions were playing a high offensive line right outside of the Rhode Island penalty box and Privett created space off the Rams’ defense. He sent a crossing pass to Bettenhausen, who danced around a defender and hammered a low-driven shot to the far post past Hinke.

Rhode Island tried to respond by way of a set piece just minutes later. The Rams set up a corner kick and 6’4″ Rhode Island forward Patrick Agyemang connected a header toward the Penn State goal. Shakes came off the goal line to make a big save and maintain the Nittany Lion lead.

The intensity on the field stayed high following the Nittany Lions’ goal. The Rams produced five shots in an attempt to score an equalizer and dominated the possession in the minutes after Bettenhausen’s score. Penn State managed to keep the scoreboard static, but couldn’t match Rhode Island’s offensive energy.

Butts was the next Nittany Lion to challenge Hinke in the 31st minute of the match. Privett combined with Butts in front of the Rams’ net, but Hinke read the play and came off the goal line to decline Butts’ attempt.

The play moved back to the Nittany Lions’ defensive third and tested the Penn State back line. Rhode Island forward Rafa Villanueva sent a heavy shot toward goal but Shakes fully extended to make a diving save.

Jalen Watson fouled Villanueva in the 86th minute to send Rhode Island to the penalty spot against Shakes. Villanueva drove a high kick to the center of the net over Shakes’ sprawling dive. The Rams converted and forced a 1-1 tie game with four minutes remaining in the matchup.

The Nittany Lions couldn’t respond and the game ended with a 1-1 draw, despite an incredible night from Shakes.

Takeaways:

  • Give Andrew Privett the ball. Every time the senior forward had possession, he made something happen. Privett’s intensity on the field set the pace for Penn State’s offense and, at one point, even attracted three Rhode Island defenders to him at once. That says enough about the efficiency and ability of Privett.
  • Kris Shakes, otherwise known as Brick Wall, saw an absurd amount of action in the second half as a result of a fired-up Ram lineup. Shakes kept it cool and manufactured five saves on the night. Rhode Island figured out how to exploit freshman outside defender Sam Ovesen on the sideline, but Shakes anticipated every shot. As the defensive line continues to gel, Shakes and Ovesen will work out any miscommunications and solidify Penn State’s defensive talent.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions are hitting the road for their next match. Penn State will kick off at 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 28, against Syracuse.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a sophomore journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She also talks about random, fun stuff on our podcast, Podward State. Keeley is a lover of grilled cheese, naps, and Kevin Jonas. If you would like to share your thoughts on the superior Jonas Brother, feel free to contact her on Twitter @lammkeeley or send your best Spotify playlist to her email [email protected]

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