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Penn State Men’s Soccer Overcomes West Virginia 3-2

Penn State men’s soccer (1-1-1) defeated West Virginia (1-2) 3-2 in an extremely competitive matchup on Friday night at Jeffrey Field.

A brace from Peter Mangione and one goal from Liam Butts propelled the Nittany Lions over the Mountaineers in the high-intensity contest. West Virginia played the final nine minutes of the match with 10 men as a result of a red card, and Penn State managed to clinch the win.

How It Happened

Head coach Jeff Cook rolled out an experienced starting lineup against the Mountaineers, excluding Quentin Flowers, who received his first career start.

The Nittany Lions opened up the first half with possession and dominated the early minutes. Butts and Mangione combined in the fourth minute to put pressure on West Virginia goalkeeper Jackson Lee but couldn’t complete a shot.

In the following 10 minutes, the Mountaineers produced three shots toward Kris Shakes’ net, but all were off-target and high of the crossbar. The pace of play increased greatly during this time and both teams started to play with more aggression.

Nittany Lions Femi Awodesu, Olu Ogunwale, and Sean Bettenhausen saw a lot of action on the right side of the field due to a lot of pressure from the Mountaineers.

West Virginia struck first in the 18th minute. Max Trethewey and Ryan Crooks combined to connect with Luke McCormick at the six-yard line. McCormick had his back turned to Shakes and flicked the ball toward the far post and into the back of the net to earn the Mountaineers the 1-0 lead.

Mangione drew a foul in the 23rd minute to earn Penn State a free kick. Seth Kuhn took the kick, but the attempt was cleared by the West Virginia defense.

Seven minutes later, Mountaineer Adam Burchell fouled Kuhn in the midfield. Kuhn nursed his ankle for nearly two minutes before getting up under his own power.

Penn State freshman Matthew Henderson gave up a free kick in the 33rd minute just outside of Shakes’ penalty box. Crooks sailed the kick high over the crossbar and the score remained at 1-0.

The tempo increased steadily once again as the Nittany Lions became desperate for an equalizer before halftime. Both teams resorted to sending passes in the air to switch the point of attack.

Throughout this, Bettenhausen was hit in the back of the head by a Mountaineer drive and required medical attention. The sophomore was subbed off but re-entered the game nine minutes later.

In the 42nd minute, Tyger Evans created a drive toward the goal that resulted in a Penn State corner kick. Kuhn took the kick and connected with freshman Henderson behind goalkeeper Jackson. Henderson laid the ball off to Mangione and the captain found the back of the net to tie the Mountaineers at 1-1.

West Virginia couldn’t respond before the halftime whistle, and both teams headed into the locker room fixed at one.

After the break, the Mountaineers started with the ball, but it was all Penn State. Evans, Kuhn, and Bettenhausen combined for a chance at goal in the 51st minute, but Bettenhausen’s shot went high and wide of the crossbar.

Despite some Nittany Lion momentum, West Virginia notched its second goal in the 56th minute. Bettenhausen gave up a free kick to give the Mountaineers a set-piece opportunity. Otto Ollikainen took the kick, and after three West Virginia attempts at goal including a bicycle kick, Dyon Dromers finished the ball to make the score 2-1.

For the next 20 minutes, West Virginia completely controlled the possession. The Nittany Lions struggled to put together passes or even break onto the Mountaineers’ half of the field.

In the 75th minute, Liam Butts finally tied it up at two. Kuhn connected with Butts outside of the penalty box and from distance, Butts sent a blazing shot to the upper right corner of Jackson’s net to earn the 2-2 tie.

Just four minutes later, Kuhn and Evans found themselves with numbers up on a breakaway toward the West Virginia goal. Kuhn laid the ball off to Evans who had a clear path toward the goal. Aaron Denk Gracia fouled Evans from behind in the penalty box and forced the center referee to utilize the video assistant referee.

The referee called for a penalty kick and Mangione lined up for the kick. Mangione buried the shot on the right side to construct Penn State’s first lead of the game at 3-2.

One minute later, Trethewey fouled Penn State in the box almost identically to the previous foul. This foul sent the Nittany Lions to the penalty spot once again.

While Magione set up for his second penalty kick, West Virginia midfielder Ryan Baer was dealt a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct at the penalty box line. This was Baer’s second yellow card, and he was subsequently ejected after earning a red card, forcing the Mountaineers to play with 10 men.

Mangione reset at the penalty spot and fired his shot high. The kick struck the crossbar and the play ended.

Despite playing with only 10 men, West Virginia did not minimize its aggression. Joseph Biafora was dealt a yellow card in the 87th minute after an altercation with Shakes in the Nittany Lions’ penalty box.

Neither team could generate a final opportunity and the score remained in Penn State’s favor at 3-2.

Takeaways:

  • Tyger Evans’ tempo is unmatched. The junior created the opportunity for the Nittany Lions’ first goal purely because of his energy on the ball. While it’s important to conserve energy, there’s something about Evans maximizing every opportunity that’s working in Penn State’s forward lineup. He sure is fun to watch.
  • Seth Kuhn has been pretty quiet so far this season. The fifth-year player has only recorded three overall shots in as many games for the Nittany Lions this year. Kuhn is a confident commander in the midfield, but where is the goal-scoring attack player we came to know last season?
  • Penn State’s historical 2021 season started out 1-1-1, and this year’s campaign looks similarly average after three games. Perhaps the Nittany Lions will deliver another slow start season to work out the kinks before Big Ten play because right now, it’s hard to tell how the remainder of this season will go.

What’s Next?

Next, the Nittany Lions will head south to take on George Mason. That game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, September 5.

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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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