Penn State Men’s Soccer Outlasts Ohio State In Penalty Kicks In Big Ten Tournament Semifinal
Penn State men’s soccer (11-3-4, 5-2-2 Big Ten) moved past Ohio State (6-7-5, 3-5-1 Big Ten) 1-1 (4-3) in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal on Wednesday night in Happy Valley.
The match started in Ohio State’s favor as it won a penalty just three minutes into the match. Laurence Wootton struck the ball perfectly, beating Kris Shakes to put the Buckeyes up one early. Penn State answered in the 24th minute of play thanks to a Samson Kpardeh goal.
In the second half, Penn State wore down the Buckeyes and dominated possession. It was unable to convert its many chances, though, and the game was still 1-1 at the end of regulation. No goals were scored in the two 10-minute periods of overtime either, sending the game to penalty kicks. Shakes saved the season in penalties, making two saves, including the game-winning stop on the Buckeyes’ final take.
How It Happened
Head coach Jeff Cook left the starting lineup the same from the quarterfinal victory against Rutgers. The Nittany Lions lined up in a 4-3-3 and pushed Femi Awodesu into the midfield position.
The first chance of the match was Ohio State’s, as one of its attackers drove into the six-yard box forcing Mohamed Cisset to attempt a last-ditch tackle attempt. Catching the leg of the Buckeye attacker, the ref instantly gave a penalty. Wootton made no mistake sending the ball into the top left corner to put Ohio State up by one in the third minute.
Penn State had its first chance off a free kick in the fifth minute. Matthew Henderson whipped the ball in from the right touchline and found the head of Atem Kato. The subsequent shot lacked power, though, and the Ohio State’s keeper made the save.
The eventful first five minutes was followed by a much calmer 15. There was a lot of back-and-forth play and neither team created many scoring chances. Penn State settled down during these 15 minutes, but Ohio State still looked the better of the two teams and saw more of the ball because of it.
Still dominating possession, the Buckeyes had a huge opportunity to double their lead in the 23rd minute. The ball fell to an Ohio State forward who belted the ball toward Shakes. Shakes stood tall and made a strong save to keep his team in the match.
Directly after clearing the ball from the save, the Nittany Lions scored the equalizer. Kpardeh, who had looked lively throughout the first half, scored a brilliant goal. Just outside of the 18-yard box, he bent the ball perfectly into the bottom right corner, passing the Buckeye keeper.
With 10 minutes to go in the first half, it looked as if Ohio State had a one-on-one opportunity against Shakes until the linesman raised the offside flag. Unfortunately, the two players had collided before the whistle was blown, and Shakes remained on the ground for a few minutes. The Big Ten Goaltender of the year was alright, and he remained in the match.
The only other chance of the first half was Peter Mangione’s in the 43rd minute. He was given space to shoot just inside the 18-yard box. The ball was hit hard but right at the Buckeye goalie as he made the simple save to keep the game at 1-1 going into the second half.
Ohio State started the second half just as fast as it had in the first. Dominating possession in the first five minutes, it only lacked the final product to take the lead.
Penn State caught a break in the 55th minute when Morgan Marshall was pushed down just on the line of the 18-yard box. Initially, the ref pointed to the penalty spot, but after going to the review board, it was decided it was just outside of the box. Owen Sullivan was still shown the first yellow card of the match, but a penalty was now only an 18-yard free kick.
Mangione hit a nice free kick, but Peter Van Euwen got a hand on it. The ball didn’t travel far, and Atem Kato was the first to it with a clear look at the goal. A mistimed volley resulted in him pushing the attempt over the crossbar for a goal kick.
The Nittany Lions had another great chance from a nice play by Mangione. He found Alex Stevenson on the back post after beating his defender, but Stevenson was unable to take advantage of the pass. His shot lacked power and trickled into the hands of the goaltender.
As the second half wore on, Penn State was getting closer and closer to the Buckeye goal but just couldn’t finish on its opportunities. It dominated possession from the 57th minute onward and always looked like the much more dangerous team.
In the 84th minute, the second yellow card of the match was shown to Donny Williams of Ohio State. He took down Stevenson at midfield in an aggressive attempt to win the ball. Tensions were rising as regular time dwindled down.
As a result, Awodesu was fouled hard and took some time to get up.
The best chance of the half for the Nittany Lions came with one minute left. Marshall made a clever move on the right wing and crossed the ball into a mass of people. Mangione somehow got a shot off but just barely hit the post, keeping the game tied.
Another huge chance with only 53 seconds left needed a heroic goalie dive from an Ohio State defender to keep the ball from going in. It looked like Marshall was going to win the game for Penn State, but it wasn’t meant to be.
The second half remained tied, so the game went to overtime. Overtime was formatted as two 10-minute periods.
In the first period of overtime, it was Ohio State’s chance to miss an almost certain goal-scoring chance. The Buckeye attacker was all alone on a break, but Cisset showed off his pace to get back and delay him enough for Shakes to dive on the ball. Cisset learned quickly from his mistake in the third minute and made a game-saving play overtime.
Kpardeh also created a chance for himself with three minutes left in the first part of overtime but was unable to convert after beating two Ohio State defenders. Going into the break it was still 1-1.
In the shootout, Nittany Lions Mangione, Awodesu, Freddie Bell, Matthew Henderson, and Ben Liscum lined up to attempt to take Penn State to the Big Ten Tournament final.
Mangione buried his attempt, and Ohio State subsequently converted. Awodesu pounded his shot into the net, while Shakes denied Wootton’s shot with a diving kick save. Bell missed the next penalty, and Marko Borkovic added a goal of his own to keep the shootout tied at two-all. Henderson and Liscum scored Penn State’s fourth and fifth goals, and the game came down to Ohio State’s Luciano Pechota to send the matchup into a second round of kicks with a conversion.
Pechota lined up for the kick and stumbled a little on his run-up, resulting in a poorly-placed kick which was easily secured by Shakes. Shakes’ second save of the five-kick penalty shootout sent the Nittany Lions to the conference tournament final, saving its season.
- Penn State, which had just two shots in the first half, continued with the season long trend of picking it up in the second half. The Nittany Lions had 10 shots in the second 45-minute period. While they couldn’t find the game-winner in the second half, the momentum their chances gave them kept them in the match through overtime. Shakes was also the hero of the penalty kicks, making two saves.
- Shakes didn’t let the early penalty kick goal get to his head. He continued to be that vocal leader that he has been all season and locked down with the rest of the Penn State back line to stop the Buckeyes from scoring again in the match.
- Head coach Jeff Cook believes every one of his players could be starters, and it showed in the long, 110-minute game. The Nittany Lions relied on constant substitutions to remain fresh and at their best for the whole game.
Penn State will move on to the Big Ten Tournament final. It will play the winner of Indiana and Michigan on at noon on Sunday, November 12. In the event Indiana wins against Michigan, the game will be played in Bloomington. Meanwhile, if the Wolverines come out victorious, the matchup will take place at Jeffrey Field.
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