Penn State Men’s Soccer Draws No. 5 Pittsburgh 1-1 In Opening Match Of 2023

Penn State men’s soccer (0-0-1) tied in-state rival No. 5 Pittsburgh (0-0-1) on the road Thursday night in its first match of the 2023 season.

Van Danielson scored the opening goal of the match moments after subbing on late in the first half which gave the Nittany Lions the lead. Goalkeeper Kris Shakes was solid in net for Penn State, but a late Pitt goal evened the score at a goal apiece. Shakes had four saves on the night.

How It Happened

Head coach Jeff Cook selected his first starting eleven of the 2023 season which included both co-captains Femi Awodesu and Peter Mangione. Veteran starting goalkeeper Kris Shakes got the nod in front of the net for the Nittany Lions.

In the season opener for both squads, the match started out slow as the Pennsylvania rivals used the opening minutes to get a feel of play. Mangione attempted to slide into the Panthers’ defensive box in the eighth minute but was unable to release a shot.

Pitt responded with its first real chance of the match in the 11th minute as Luis Sahmkow’s header went slightly over the bar. In the 15th minute, Sahmkow fouled Awodesu too hard, earning himself the first yellow card of the contest.

The Panthers played their second corner of the evening short in the 22nd minute, but the Nittany Lions played solid defense to limit the chance. Penn State earned its first corner of the first half in the 26th minute, but no scoring opportunity came of it.

In the 36th minute, Pitt senior Filip Mirkovic took a free kick in a dangerous position to register the first shot on goal of the evening, which Shakes saved comfortably. The Panthers took their third corner short once again and were able to get a ball in front of the net but not on target in the 41st minute.

Shakes came up with two big saves to keep the Panthers off the board before halftime. The goalkeeper showed his experience sprawling out to deny Pitt multiple times at the end of the first frame.

Junior midfielder Danielson scored on the Nittany Lions’ first shot on goal in the 44th minute. The Maryland native went on a long run holding off the Pitt defender and slipping it past Carter Cabral to take a 1-0 lead before halftime.

Butts opened the second half by finding the back of the night but it was ruled off as Danielson’s ball was ruled just out-of-bounds. The Nittany Lions continued to dominate the beginning of the second half, holding possession and creating quality chances in the final third.

Shakes came out of his box to make a clearance in the 58th minute and was banged up as a Pitt forward clipped his ankle. Shakes remained down for a few moments but was able to continue. The Penn State goalie came off his line in the 62nd minute to corral a Pitt corner.

Mirkovic came within inches of tying it up as his long-distance strike in the 66th minute barely missed its target, going over the bar. Awodesu headed a set piece off the bar, missing a chance to double the Nittany Lions lead in the 70th minute.

The Panthers finally found their equalizer in the 80th minute from true freshman Albert Thorsen. The Norway native poked the ball past Shakes off a cross from Abdoulaye Toure. Toure and Guilherme Feitosa were both awarded with assists.

An altercation broke out between the teams during the goal celebration which resulted in three cards being awarded. Mirkovic was given a red card for his role in the altercation that took place inside Penn State’s goal. The Nittany Lions finished the last 10 minutes of the contest with a man advantage.

The last 15 minutes of the Pennsylvania derby showed multiple players on each side going down with small injuries and cramps. Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the last 10 minutes as the game slowed down and ended in a 1-1 draw.


  • In front of a large pro-Pittsburgh crowd, Cook’s team showed a lot of maturity being able to head into a top-ranked team’s stadium and walk away with a draw. For the majority of the second half, the Nittany Lions led the Panthers and were one play away from winning the match.
  • The Nittany Lions have 10 freshmen on their 2023 roster, the largest rookie class under Cook. The combination of youth and experienced players will benefit the Nittany Lions in the long run on the pitch.
  • Pitt outshot the Nittany Lions 13-6 in the contest, creating a few more quality chances than Penn State. The extra Panther opportunities ended up hurting the blue and white with the late second-half goal.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions return to Jeffery Field for their home opener to take on Le Moyne at 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 27.

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About the Author

CJ Gill

CJ is a junior from McVeytown, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism and is an associate editor at Onward State. He's a huge Phillies fan, which has its pro and cons come October. You can send all sports takes to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CJGill14.

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