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Penn State Men’s Soccer Pulls Off 2-1 Upset Comeback Over No. 12 Northwestern

Penn State men’s soccer (7-2-3, 3-1-1 Big Ten) knocked off No. 12 Northwestern (9-1-3, 3-1-1 Big Ten) 2-1 in the first-ever Wear Black game at Jeffery Field Friday night.

Peter Mangione and Femi Awodesu both made it on the scoreboard in the second half to lead a late comeback over the ranked Northwestern squad. Both captains came up huge for Jeff Cook alongside Kris Shakes in delivering the Wildcats their first loss of the season.

How It Happened

Penn State came out of the tunnel donning its alternate pink and black kits, in honor of the university’s old colors, for only the second time this season.

In the second minute, Sean Bettenhausen stood over a free kick, curling it into the box for the first real chance of the evening for the old-fashioned Nittany Lions. The next couple of minutes were back-and-forth between both programs, as neither squad could maintain continuous possession. Henderson pin-pointed Awodesu in front of the net for a header, which the senior captain just put over the Wildcats’ bar.

Through 15 minutes of play, Northwestern struggled to test a reliable Shakes in goal. The Wildcats’ first shot of the night finally came in the 18th minute, on a weak attempt off the foot of Ugo Achara Jr.

Jackson Weyman came up with his first highlight save in the match as he denied Mangione in the bottom left corner of the net. Minutes later, Weyman doubled down on his highlight with a full-body extension save of Atem Kato.

Halfway through the first half, the two highly talented Big Ten programs remained scoreless. The Wildcats fouled Penn State freshman Samson Kpardeh hard near the sideline, creating another free-kick opportunity in the 26th minute.

The pace between Cook’s squad and Northwestern slowed down with 10 minutes to play in the opening half. Just as the Nittany Lions got too lazy, Northwestern scored the first goal of the contest. The ball fell perfectly to Justin Weiss inside the Penn State box. Weiss placed it into the top corner and there was nothing Shakes could do in goal.

The Nittany Lions applied pressure on the Northwestern defense to end the first half, but nothing came of the last few minute chances. The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead into halftime over Penn State.

The second half started with Penn State on the offensive, looking for an equalizer through multiple crosses into the Wildcats’ box. In the 50th minute, Shakes came up with his best save of the night to date with a sprawling denial of Weiss’ attempt.

Mangione started a counter-attack from the midfield in the 56th minute that resulted in a Nittany Lions corner kick. Penn State was unable to get quality service into the box and Northwestern cleared it away before going the other way with an opportunity of its own.

With less than 30 minutes left on the clock, Awodesu found the Nittany Lions’ equalizer. The captain scooped up Ben Liscum’s initial shot, which was saved by Weyman, and drilled it into the back of the net.

Following the goal from Awodesu, the momentum completely shifted in favor of Penn State, the Park Avenue Army and the rest of the Nittany Lion fans came alive in an attempt to will their team to victory in the last 20 minutes.

Mangione doubled the score for Penn State. A perfect counterattack started by Van Danielson led to the senior taking the 2-1 lead over Northwestern. His goal came with 17 minutes to play in the second half.

The Wildcats came out of the restart looking for an instant response. A corner in the 77th minute was the best opportunity for Northwestern following the go-ahead goal from Mangione.

As the final minutes played out, Northwestern did everything it could on the pitch to find a late equalizer. Shakes came up with another massive save with just over a minute to go in the match. The Nittany Lions celebrated with the fans as time expired, securing a 2-1 upset victory over the highly-ranked Wildcats.


  • The offense for Cook’s team continues to be lacking. It’s an aspect of the Nittany Lions team that is holding them back from turning losses and draws into more victories in Big Ten play.
  • The Nittany Lions showed exactly who they are, going down 1-0 early against the No. 12 team in the country to come back and score two goals to get the win. How clutch this team can be has not been a question mark for Penn State this season.
  • The captains have been outstanding for Penn State as of late. Awodesu and Mangione both found the back of the net to score the only goals of the night for the Nittany Lions.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will be back on the pitch at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17, at Rutgers. Folks can tune into the game on Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

CJ Gill

CJ is a sophomore from McVeytown, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism and an associate editor at Onward State. He has the great privilege of living in central Pennsylvania...Which isn't so great. You can send all disagreements to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CJGill14.

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