No. 20 Penn State Men’s Soccer Blanks St. John’s 2-0
Penn State men’s soccer (2-0-2) took down St. John’s (2-1-1) 2-0 Monday evening at Jeffrey Field.
Penn State struggled to find its footing and started the game defensively, focusing on a slow passing build-up for attack before a breakthrough in set pieces. Despite the slow offensive start, the Nittany Lions’ backline wasn’t particularly tested until the second half.
How It Happened
Penn State began the game on defense by way of a shot from St. John’s within the first minute. The Red Storm pressured Penn State again but attacker Nigel Griffith received a yellow card for colliding with goalkeeper Kris Shakes.
In the 10th minute, the Red Storm was issued a free kick and Connor Mucchetti fired a low shot that landed just inches wide of the net.
The Nittany Lions struggled to keep possession, continuously attempting long balls that were easily intercepted by St. John’s. They got physical with the lack of control, giving away six fouls before a hydration break in the 22nd minute.
Immediately returning from the break, Penn State had another scare as St. John’s had a breakaway but was foiled as it was caught offsides.
Penn State used the free kick to its advantage and sent the ball upfield to Alex Stevenson, who was taken down and won another free kick for Penn State. Matthew Henderson sent the ball into the box, finding Peter Mangione who headed it into the left side netting to give Penn State a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute.
The Nittany Lions won the ball back in their defensive half and quickly connected with Mangione in a three-on-three matchup. Mangione found Atem Kato who had his shot blocked, followed by a rebounded attempted from freshman Caden Grabfelder.
The game continued to be physical as Antonio Biggs was rewarded a yellow card for St. John’s after swiping down Samson Kpardeh. With two minutes left in the half, Mohamed Cisset received a yellow card for the Nittany Lions after taking down a breakaway opportunity.
Penn State entered halftime retaining its 1-0 lead.
Out of the break, Shakes recorded his first save of the match in the 51st minute after being untested in the first half.
Penn State found its first chance of the second half in the 52nd minute when Mangione fed Liam Butts whose shot was blocked for a corner. It failed to convert on the corner and quickly found itself rushing to defend a counterattack.
The Nittany Lions worked the ball back upfield and won another corner in the 63rd minute. Henderson took it from the right side and connected with Stevenson on the backside six-yard line to head it into the back of the net.
Another hydration break occurred in the 68th minute and, out of the timeout, possession was traded between teams with Penn State’s slower build-up struggling to break through the Red Storm defense.
The Red Storm capitalized on the build-up a few times, recording quick counterattacks and cutting up Penn State’s midfield. Shakes was forced to make a diving save in the 77th minute before securing a goal kick.
The Nittany Lions’ defense was tested again with six minutes to play. Macoumba Ba dribbled across the box before blasting a shot, but Shakes was there to stop it.
St. John’s attack came right back with Sam Ovensen stepping up for a block before Eric Danquah hit the rebound over the crossbar.
Penn State attempted long balls over the Red Storm defense in the last few minutes, but couldn’t break into the penalty box. It controlled the tempo in the middle for the last five minutes to secure its 2-0 victory.
- Matthew Henderson had a big game and dominated much of Jeffrey Field Monday. Henderson played on both defense and within the midfield today, serving as an important connecting piece in the creation of offensive momentum. He recorded two assists by way of taking both of the corners that resulted in goals.
- Penn State seems to have stopped its struggles with set pieces today. In its opening games, it failed to capitalize and was forced to reset. Both goals against St. John’s were scored off of set pieces in a bright look for the rest of the season.
- Penn State had to adjust to the Red Storm defense and took its time to find its footing. The slow build-up forced Penn State to take time and work together, providing a chance to test out new set pieces. St. John’s fast counterattacks proved worrisome at times, but Penn State’s core stayed strong throughout the 90 minutes.
Penn State will remain in Happy Valley and host Penn at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 8.
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