Late Goal Drops Penn State against No. 5 Michigan State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions (1-1-1, 2-5-2) welcomed in the fifth-ranked Michigan State Spartans (2-0-0, 8-0-2) to Jeffrey Field on Wednesday night to try and pick up their second consecutive home conference win. The rain held off for the 6:00 p.m. start, and the Spartans were able to put away the Nittany Lions in the second half to hold on to their undefeated record, 1-0.
“I give our team a lot of credit for the way they responded to going behind late in the game,” Penn State head coach Jeff Cook said. “I think we pushed a very experienced and talented Michigan State team right to the brink.”
In the first half, both teams were struggling to gain an advantage by picking up their first goal. Penn State sophomore goalkeeper Josh Levine kept a first-half zero on the board with five saves. Spartans forwards had several goal-scoring opportunities with strong shots from senior forward DeJuan Jones at point-blank range. The Nittany Lion defense made many stops as well in the box on promising chances.
“I had to rely on guys like [senior defender Ryan] Gallagher right next to me to make big saves off the line, and coming in to save rebounds,” Levine said.
The Penn State offense struggled the entire night at penetrating the Michigan State defense. The Nittany Lions only mustered seven shots on the night, and none of them came in the first half. However, when Michigan State senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague was challenged he was able to make acrobatic saves to keep a clean sheet with three saves.
“You want to build confidence and belief in yourself at all times and in the first half we gave Michigan State a little too much respect,” Cook said. “When we play with urgency and play at a good pace we can be a formidable opponent for any team in the country.”
The Spartans kept up the pressure in the second half, even as they still found themselves knotted up at zero with the Nittany Lions. Michigan State had nine shots in the second 45 minutes, finishing with 16 on the night.
Penn State shot themselves in the foot in the second half that kept the Spartan pressure on by racking up four yellow cards. Junior midfielder Aaron Malloy, senior midfielder Noah Pilato, senior defender Brennan Ireland, and sophomore midfielder Mikey Conneh were all booked in less than 20 minutes of game time.
“It’s frustrating for our guys who are really trying to impose themselves on the game, and you need a lot of experience from the referee to handle that,” Cook said.
Michigan State broke the tie in the 74th minute with the match’s lone goal. Senior defender John Freitag buried his second goal of the season passed a diving Levine to push the Spartans ahead for good.
“Although the result went against us tonight, I believe that we are getting more comfortable to the level of intensity in the Big Ten,” Cook said.
Penn State gets another top-ranked team as they travel to Bloomington to take on the No. 2 Indiana Hoosiers, while Michigan State returns home to take on the Wisconsin Badgers.
Joe Skinner is a sophomore broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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