Penn State Men’s Soccer Blanks Le Moyne 4-0
Penn State men’s soccer (1-0-1) hosted its home opener against Le Moyne (0-1), besting the Dolphins 4-0 Sunday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions had a strong showing for its first home game of the season, and Van Danielson, Caden Grabfelder, Atem Kato, and Peter Mangione all hit the back of the net. Goalkeeper Kris Shakes recorded four saves against Le Moyne but never had a true threat to his clean sheet.
How It Happened
Head coach Jeff Cook retained his starting 11 from his squad’s most recent outing at Pitt, including veterans Femi Awodesu, Liam Butts, Peter Mangione, and Sean Bettenhausen.
Penn State started off slow, taking time to find its footing until its first break into the box after seven minutes. Crosses started flying into the box but failed to connect with a Nittany Lion.
Penn State received a free kick in the eighth minute that Alex Stevenson decided to play downfield. In the ninth minute, Penn State took its first corner kick but Le Moyne goaltender Matthew Gera read the play. Gera sent the ball into Penn State’s half, and the Dolphins sent a cross to the far-side six-yard-line, but Shakes easily grabbed the shot for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions continued a slow build-up, resetting each time Le Moyne cleared the ball. Mangione saw a shot blocked and was immediately fouled in the box by Maximilian Huss. Huss received a yellow card and Mangione stepped up to take the penalty kick. The captain blasted it into the bottom right corner to put Penn State up 1-0 in the 14th minute.
Penn State kept the ball in Le Moyne’s half, and Liam Butts found Grabfelder right in front of the penalty box. Grabfelter took his space and curled it into the upper left in the 24th minute to double the Nittany Lions’ lead.
With the early lead, Penn State made some changes in the 27th minute. Ben Liscum and Quentin Flowers replaced Grabfelder and Bettenhausen.
The blue and white got the ball high into the penalty box again, but Kato’s diving header went just wide. Le Moyne won a free kick in the 40th minute and took a light shot from outside the 18-yard-box, which hit Shakes right in the chest.
Van Danielson replaced Butts and had an instant impact, nearly finding the back of the net but Gera posted a strong save to end the half.
Penn State won a free kick in the first minute of the second half, but couldn’t capitalize and the Dolphins headed it away. Penn State stayed strong with its press, keeping control of the ball in its attacking half.
In the 49th minute, Bettenhausen sent a through ball for Butts who lured Gera off his line. Butts flicked the ball to his right for Kato to bury into the net.
The Nittany Lions ran down the sideline as Kato sent the ball through to Butts, who attempted to sneak past his defender but settled for a corner kick. Before the kick happened, Danielson came on for Butts and Samson Kpardeh came on for Kato. The Dolphins cleared the corner kick, sending it all the way back to Shakes.
Penn State built up from Shakes, as Kpardeh connected with Danielson who redirected the ball into the back of the net. The Nittany Lions led by four goals with 26 minutes remaining.
Kpardeh won a free kick right outside of the box and lofted it just over the goal. In the 73rd minute, Owen Elliot replaced Shakes between the posts.
In the last 15 minutes, the Nittany Lions maintained control, attempting long balls to find another breakthrough. While they still set the pace of the game, they played simply and cleanly to close out a high-productivity outing.
- Penn State maintained a strong press for all 90 minutes with 13 shots, including six on goal. After only six shots against Pittsburgh, it’s reassuring to see offensive momentum from the Nittany Lions.
- Twenty different players saw the field for the blue and white Sunday, showing off the depth of Cook’s team. With 10 new freshmen in the program, there’s no shortage of experienced players to turn to within the diverse roster.
- The game was especially physical in the first half, featuring 18 fouls and a combined three yellow cards by the end of the match. Penn State contributed eight fouls and two yellow cards to the total. While the players never gave up their intensity, the fouls could pose a risk throughout the season in terms of suspensions.
The Nittany Lions will host reigning National Champion Syracuse at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 1. Folks can tune in to the matchup on the Big Ten Network.
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