Penn State Men’s Soccer Takes Down Rutgers 3-1 In Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinal
Penn State men’s soccer (10-3-4, 5-2-2 Big Ten) dominated Rutgers (5-8-3, 3-5-1 Big Ten) 3-1 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal on Friday night in Happy Valley.
The Nittany Lions are searching for their second trophy after winning a share of the regular-season title on Sunday. Penn State controlled the game and dominated possession, especially in the first half. It had to wait 46 minutes before its breakthrough, but once it found the back of the net, it never looked back.
Mohamed Cisset, Peter Mangione, and Van Danielson pushed the team to victory while Kris Shakes posted immense saves, proving again why he is Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year.
How It Happened
Rutgers won the first shot on goal with Ian Abbey getting a touch on the ball which Shakes easily scooped up. Following Shake’s grab, possession was traded for the first 10 minutes.
Penn State had some promising chances early on, but big touches led to turnovers and it struggled to successfully build up the necessary momentum.
Samson Kpardeh had the first shot on goal for the Nittany Lions, but his shot to the bottom left corner lacked power. Penn State built off of his play and crowded the box and Morgan Marshall sent in a cross, looking for Mangione but goalie Ciaran Dalton grabbed it.
The tide changed in Penn State’s favor, and Kpardeh started to tear open the defense. In the 15th minute, Alex Stevenson found himself wide open on the right side of the box, but his shot was blocked. Atem Kato jumped on the rebound but couldn’t find the back of the net either.
Matthew Henderson stepped up to take a free kick for the Nittany Lions, but it turned into a goal kick for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights went on a breakaway from this, threatening Shakes and the defense and starting to find their footing.
Marshall has stepped into his recent role in the starting lineup and blasted a shot in the 29th minute, skimming just over the crossbar.
The first corner of the game came in the 30th minute for Penn State. Kato mistimed his header, and it flew off the field. The Scarlet Knights gained the ball back and Abbey received it but was called offside.
Shakes came out of the net to make a big save and keep it scoreless, blocking a shot from Abbey with his leg.
Stevenson set up Caden Grabfelder for a shot from outside of the box, but it was deflected for a corner. Grabfelder’s corner kick found Marshall at the edge of the box who also saw his shot deflected.
Rutgers ran off this deflection, immediately streaking down the field. Jackson Temple found himself in a one-on-one with Shakes and sent the ball to the top corner, but Shakes reached to save it with just a hand.
Penn State found its goal with just four minutes left in the half to take the 1-0 lead. Grabfelder sent the ball high into the box, and Cisset jumped over everyone to head it into the net for his first goal of the year.
Rutgers attempted a last-second long shot but didn’t truly test Shakes to end the first half 1-0 for Penn State.
The Scarlet Knights returned from halftime with a spark, firing off three consecutive shots in quick fashion. They couldn’t break past Shakes, though, and Penn State quickly found itself on the attack again.
Mangione doubled the lead for the Nittany Lions in the 54th minute. Marshall found Mangione in the box who tapped it into the left corner past Dalton.
After securing the two-goal lead, Penn State dropped some midfielders back to park the bus and secure its win. It switched to a 4-4-2 and enacted a slower, more possession-based buildup to play carefully.
Kpardeh went on a breakaway in the 71st minute, weaving through the entire defense before being clotheslined and falling inside the 18-yard box.
Rutgers won a corner, but Penn State quickly won possession back, sending the ball down the field to Danielson. He pushed the ball past Dalton and two defenders, finding himself with an empty net to score on and make it 3-0 in the 75th minute.
Shortly after the goal, the refs went to the box to review a possible penalty against Penn State, but ultimately no foul came of it.
Rutgers won a free kick and placed it right into the top corner, but Shakes recorded an unbelievable save to push it out. He was tested again by a bicycle kick rebound but nothing could get past him.
With the Nittany Lions playing more conservatively, Rutgers’ attack appeared more threatening. It spent more time on the attack, staying in Penn State’s half for most of the last 15 minutes.
Rutgers’ breakthrough seemed imminent, and it found the back of the net in the 88th minute, desperate for a late comeback. Penn State dropped back even farther after losing its clean sheet, crowding the box to deny another goal.
The clock ran out and the Nittany Lions sustained its lead to win the game 3-1 and on to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
- Matthew Henderson is an unsung hero for the Nittany Lions this season. The left back helped hold the backline together each game and created the majority of the set pieces, providing the team with much momentum to work off of. He recorded an assist in today’s game and will be an important piece of this team’s tournament run.
- Femi Awodesu is shining in his new role as the pivot, essentially as a center defensive midfielder. This role allows Awodesu to be more involved in the attack, as seen in his recent goals. He has more freedom now to bully the other team’s midfield and control the tempo, connecting with and sending through balls to make a constantly threatening attack.
- Kris Shakes is indeed here, there, and absolutely everywhere. It is rare for anything to get past Shakes, who is an absolute brick wall in the net. He stepped up big once again to propel the Nittany Lions into the semifinals.
Penn State is moving onto the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. It will play the winner of Ohio State versus Michigan State on Wednesday, November 8, at Jeffrey Field. The time is still to be determined.
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About the Author
When paired with the Thespian Society by Penn State THON, the world changed for Theresa Illicete.
Thompson was granted two extra years of eligibility by the NCAA.
Fashanu is the Nittany Lions’ most recent First-Team All-American since Micah Parsons in 2019.