MSOC: Maloney’s Strike Leads Penn State to Home Opener Victory
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa- A relieved Connor Maloney wheeled away in celebration as he had finally found the net after several tries, clinching the home opener in an eventual Penn State (1-1-1) 1-0 win over James Madison (0-3). The midfielder had previously missed a penalty, but he was not to be denied this time as he followed his own saved header to beat the Dukes’ keeper Kyle Morton, who proved to be a thorn in Penn States’ side.
Maloney had a chance to open scoring earlier, after his driven free-kick found a defender’s hand in the box. Maloney stepped up to the familiar penalty spot himself, but attempted a different style of penalty, opting to go with a chip down the middle, which struck the crossbar and went wide.
This was an unfortunate theme for Maloney on the night, as a later close range strike found the crossbar yet again. Although a frustrating night for the captain, he was able to lead by example, slotting home a hard-fought winning goal.
Maloney proved to be the key in Penn State’s attack, often combining with Dayonn Harris, who assisted his winning goal. This was a connection that nearly led to another Penn State goal with several quick shots saved by James Madison goalkeeper Kyle Morton, who was ultimately the reason for a one goal game.
Morton found himself busy in the second half, having to bail out his team multiple times. He finished with eight saves. Penn State goalkeeper Arie Ammann wasn’t to be outdone though, as his 5 saves, and crucial late-game stop to save an own goal, earned him a clean sheet in his first start of the season.
The busy second half was a stark contrast to the start of the game, with Penn State building attacks, but missing the final key ball needed to unlock the James Madison defense.
“Today we had many, many chances we could’ve finished, but that’s just how the game goes… but we got the job done and that’s all you can really ask,” Maloney said on his team’s overall effort.
The Lions dominated in possession, often pinning the opposition back with good wing play from Pierre Reedy and Austin Maloney, but was missing the final ball to open the Dukes’ defense. While lacking slightly in attack, the Lions backline stepped up, with James Madison struggling to find an answer for Penn State’s defense, as the Dukes looked largely anonymous on the offensive end.
This game came as a challenge to a Penn State team that had just completed a several thousand mile round trip days earlier.
“Traveling six thousand miles in a week…and all the things the guys went through,…I’m super proud of them,” coach Bob Warming said, who was more than happy with the win and clean sheet.
Penn State was able to grind out its first win of the season off the back of their grueling California trip. James Madison was handed its third loss on the year, in a contest largely dominated by the Lions.
Jordan Hall is a sophomore majoring in digital and print journalism, to contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org