Penn State Edges Out Villanova in 1-0 Victory
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Nittany Lions came up victorious, defeating the Villanova Wildcats 1-0 at Jeffrey Field and improving their record to 3-1-1.
Early on, the Nittany Lions had some opportunities against an elite Villanova defense. At the 36:19 mark in the first half, the Nittany Lions were attacking deep in Villanova territory, but a header from junior Christian Sload just went wide. However, with 34:11 remaining in the first half, Sload found teammate Seth Kuhn, who put a laser shot just past the outstretched arm of Villanova goalkeeper Carson Williams, handing Penn State the lone goal of the game. Penn State nearly had a chance at another goal, but junior Pierre Reedy was just barely offside, which led to a loss of possession for the Nittany Lions.
Later at the 16:28 mark in the first half, senior Aaron Molloy had a chance at an empty net goal, but Williams jumped on the ball for a huge save. Once again, Molloy would have another great opportunity at a goal thanks to a centering pass from Sload, but he airmailed the ball over the net.
Penn State freshman goalkeeper Kris Shakes had not been challenged until there was 7:22 remaining in the first half, when Villanova forward Lyam MacKinnon sent a missile at the goal. But Shakes made a diving, one-handed save to keep the Wildcats scoreless. The score would remain the same for the rest of the first half, and Penn State went into the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
It was a defensive showdown to start the second half, as both teams struggled to get any good looks at the goal. Penn State had an opportunity to cushion the lead as with 36:30 in the second half, but Molloy missed on another shot. This time it just trickled wide left of the goal. The misses would continue for Molloy, as he came close on two more from the corner but missed them both. With 32:00 left in the second half, Kuhn had a good look from outside the box, but the shot was deflected.
At the 25:35 mark, MacKinnon of Villanova sent a rocket shot towards the Penn State goal, but Shakes made another terrific diving save. It was a huge moment for Penn State, as the sideline was clearly fired up after the save.
With 21:01 left in the game, Williams made the save of the night. Kuhn sent a perfect corner kick to freshman Jalen Watson, whose header nearly got over the outstretched arm of Williams. A collective sigh of disbelief was heard in Jeffrey field as the amazing save kept Villanova in the game.
Down the stretch, the Nittany Lions would play keepaway as they milked the clock all the way down to double zeros. It was an impressive win for the Nittany Lions, defeating a Villanova team that was undefeated coming into tonight’s game.
“Tonight I can only congratulate our team for what I think is our best performance of the season," said Penn State head coach Jeff Cook. "The play we had at times was what we were hoping to strive for, hoping to achieve here. We played at really good speed. We had possession, we were determined defensively, and maybe with the exception of a couple moments, we controlled Villanova's very dangerous attack very effectively. So I'm very proud of the team – it was a really hard-fought game, and I'm delighted with a 1-0 victory."
The Nittany Lions will be on the road for their next game as they take on Ohio State in Columbus next Saturday.
Mitch Broder is a sophomore majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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