Penn State Men’s Soccer Tops Ohio State in Big Ten Opener

Story posted 6 days ago in CommRadio, Sports by Tyler Olson

Penn State dealt with physical play from Ohio State (1-5-1, 0-1) and a major injury on Sunday, but the Nittany Lions (2-4-0, 1-0) fought their way to a 3-1 win to kick off Big Ten play.

The Nittany Lions controlled the tempo for much of the match, but especially in the opening minutes. Penn State possessed the ball for almost all of the first half in Ohio State’s defensive third, and shots from Noah Pilato, Mason Deeds and Ethan Beckford kept the pressure on the Buckeyes in the first 25 minutes. Penn State also had seven corner kicks to just one for Ohio State in the opening half.

Penn State broke through 30 minutes in when a laser shot of the foot of junior midfielder Aaron Malloy found the back of the net. True freshman Jeremy Rafanello fed Malloy a bouncing pass at the top of the box, and Malloy elevated his foot to strike the ball out of midair, catching Ohio State’s redshirt junior keeper, Parker Siegfried, off-guard.

Senior forward Mac Curran also tacked on a goal, assisted by sophomore midfielder Callum Pritchatt, just five minutes later.
Ohio State brought a more physical style of play in the second half, and the Buckeyes were rewarded with three corner kicks and a shot attempt by Jake Scheper in the first ten minutes out of the locker room. Both teams started racking up fouls, leading to yellow cards for Ohio State’s Osman Fofanah and Pritchatt around the 60th minute.

“It was definitely more physical, I’d say,” said Curran of the opening match on Penn State’s Big Ten schedule. “The Big Ten is a very physical and very technical conference, so it’s fun to be out there.”

The Buckeyes made it a 2-1 game in the 67th minute with a shot by redshirt freshman Devyn Etling, who was assisted by Scheper.
Ohio State seemed to be controlling play until the 76th minute when Deeds went down near midfield with a leg injury. Trainers placed his leg in an air cast and took him off the field on a stretcher. Penn State head coach Jeff Cook would not comment on any injuries after the game.

Redshirt junior and State College native Stephen Kenney entered the game for Deeds, making his second appearance of the season. Four minutes later Kenney scored his first goal of the season on his first shot of the season, heading a Malloy free kick past Siegfried to make the score 3-1 in the 80th minute.

Penn State entered Sunday with just three goals scored in five matches this season. Malloy said Cook pushed his team to focus on scoring, and that work came to fruition against the Buckeyes.

“We had the strikers stay back after practice and show the coach that we can actually score a lot of goals,” he said after the match. “He challenged us to go out and score a lot more than we did in previous games, and the strikers have done well.”

The Nittany Lions head to Ann Arbor this week for another Big Ten matchup with the Michigan Wolverines (5-1-0, 1-0) this Friday. Cook says he’s confident in his team’s ability to play with a good Michigan team, and that Penn State’s 2-4-0 record does not reflect what his team is capable of.

“The result of a soccer game, I think as much or maybe more than any other sport, can sometimes be an imposter,” he said of the Nittany Lions’ four early-season losses, all of which came by just a single goal. “We have to focus on sticking to our plans, believing in each other, and not deviating too much from what we want to do.”

 


Tyler Olson is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. To contact him, email tso5043@psu.edu.