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No. 20 Penn State Men’s Soccer Draws No. 1 Syracuse 1-1 In Late Thriller

No. 20 Penn State men’s soccer (1-0-2) tied defending National Champion No. 1 Syracuse (2-0-1) in an entertaining 1-1 match at Jeffery Field Friday evening.

Freshman midfielder Caden Grabfelder scored the lone goal against the reigning champion, while Kris Shakes recorded five saves in goal for the Nittany Lions in a back-and-forth contest between two top-20-ranked teams.

How It Happened

Syracuse dominated the opening minutes of the match, creating a couple of quality chances. Nittany Lion defender Samuel Oveson fouled the Orange outside of Penn State’s box in a dangerous area, but nothing came of the early free kick.

The Penn State attack attempted to capitalize on a Syracuse turnover in the seventh minute. Caden Grabfelter skied a ball over the Syracuse goal, squandering the Nittany Lion’s first advantage of the evening. In more back-and-forth action Kris Shakes came up with the diving save to keep the match scoreless in the 10th minute.

Syracuse earned the first corner of the match between both sides during the 13th minute. The Nittany Lions’ defense held strong, easily clearing the swinging ball. Shakes came up with a highlight reel save to deny Josh Belluz and the Orange on the goal line moments later.

The Oranges’ Gavin Wigg fouled attacker Liam Butts just outside the box, resulting in a free kick for Penn State. Peter Mangione struck it nearly perfectly toward the top corner and was denied by a sprawling Jason Smith, keeping it scoreless for the Orange.

The 25th minute showed more promise for the blue and white as Butts found himself behind Smith on a breakaway before being denied in front of the net by the Syracuse defense. The first yellow card of the game was dished out in the 30th minute. Olu Oyegunle was the guilty party as the Syracuse defender cut down Atem Kato in the Nittany Lions’ attacking third.

Injuries slowed the match down during the final 15 minutes of the first half as neither side saw many scoring opportunities and possession was evenly balanced. The Nittany Lions and the Orange went into the break scoreless.

Ian McIntyre’s Syracuse team came out of halftime dominating possession and pushing the Nittany Lions’ defense onto their heels. The second half remained chippy between both teams as each side was given multiple yellow cards in the first 10 minutes. Felipe D’Agostini nearly gave the Orange the first goal of the match when his shot bounced off Shakes’ post and rolled across the goalline in the 56th minute.

Syracuse dialed up a great combination of passing that looked straight off the training ground, but Mateo Leveque’s shot couldn’t find the goal. With 25 minutes to play in the match, it remained 0-0. In the 68th minute, the Orange had their fourth corner of the evening. However, as the earlier ones went, nothing came of the offensive advantage.

The match turned on its side in the 70th minute as Syracuse’s goalie came out of his box and fouled Kato on a scoring opportunity. Smith was given a red card for his reckless play, resulting in the Orange bringing in its backup goalie and playing the final 20 minutes with only 10 men.

Penn State struggled to take advantage of the man-up during the first minutes following the red card. The Orange continued to battle for possession and earned multiple corners despite a man down. The Nittany Lions finally threatened new Syracuse goalie Jahiem Wickham in the 80th minute on a promising free kick taken by Butts.

In the final moments of the match, Grabfelder found the back of the net to take the lead over the defending national champions, which appeared to all but seal the victory for the Nittany Lions. Thirteen seconds later, the Orange proved why they are the top-ranked team in the country. Graduate defender Pablo Pedregosa poked in the equalizer with under two minutes to play, breaking the hearts of the Nittany Lion faithful.

The final moments of the match were filled with high-intensity tackles and multiple scrums before the final whistle blew, resulting in a 1-1 draw between the two ranked teams.

Takeaways:

  • The Nittany Lions came out of the gates fearless against the defending national champions, taking it to the Orange throughout the first half. Head coach Jeff Cook’s squad was a few lucky bounces away from taking an early lead during the first 45 minutes.
  • Kris Shakes is him. The fifth-year goalkeeper does it all for the Nittany Lions. Shakes came up with big save after a big save, helping his team stay in the match all night.
  • Set pieces continued to be a weakness for the Nittany Lions. Offensively for the blue and white, they struggled to create any quality chances from corners and free-kick opportunities. Defensively, Syracuse had 11 corners in the match.
  • This game had a little bit of everything between both squads. Red cards, massive saves, heartbreaking goals, and postgame scrums left the crowd at Jeffery Field entertained for all 90 minutes.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will return to action at 5 p.m. on Monday, September 4, at Jeffrey Field against St. John’s.

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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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