Men’s Soccer Falls to No. 20 Michigan in Final Seconds of Double Overtime

Story posted October 1, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Ellie French

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State players dropped to the field as they watched Michigan’s Jack Hallahan connect with the goal in the waning seconds of double overtime to win the game 2-1.

Looking for their first Big Ten win of the season, the Nittany Lions (2-5-2, 0-3-0 Big Ten), emerged strong against their ranked opponent. Getting off to a slow start in the first half with pressure from the Wolverines and careless passing, the blue and white began to find their momentum around 18:00 into game play.

The Nittany Lions drove into Michigan territory, sliding into the goal area and almost sending the ball straight into the net. Freshman striker Ethan Beckford worked hard to get open in the first half, showing physicality against a tough Michigan defense.

After being slammed into by a Michigan player with no foul call around 23:00 in game play, Beckford soon got his revenge. With 25:36 on the clock, Beckford headed the ball from 4-yards out to send the ball into the goal and give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead.

The true freshman not only picked up the Nittany Lions’ first goal of the season against a Big Ten opponent, but scored his first collegiate goal as well.

“It has taken me a little while to get into my stride, but I finally was able to get into it today,” said Beckford. “I’ve been working on putting the ball in the back of the net and just being preparative and doing that helped me to score today.”

The Nittany Lions halted Michigan from obtaining any goals before halftime owed heavily to a strong defensive effort. Junior midfielder Austin Maloney stayed tight on the Wolverines’ Mohammed Zakyi and Francis Atuahene, both major playmakers the team looks to.

Redshirt freshman Josh Levine also helped in Penn State’s defensive fight against Michigan, making his first career start with nine saves for the blue and white.

“It was a great feeling to get my first start. I’m happy to have had the opportunity,” said Levine. “Today was about my teammates though, it was a great showing from them. They showed a lot of heart, lot of hustle and a lot of guys had some good performances.”

With a Zakyi goal to tie the game 1-1 in the second half, the Nittany Lion’s hustled hard to limit their opponents’ scoring opportunities. The Wolverines had nine shots in the period with Penn State racking up a game high four saves.
As the final minutes of regulation time began to dwindle down, junior defender Brennan Ireland came up just wide of potentially securing the victory, sending the game into overtime.

After attempts by both teams to score proved unsuccessful in the first overtime period, the Nittany Lions and Wolverines found themselves in a head-to-head fight for the victory in double overtime instead of settling for the tie.

After a breakaway around 5:00 left in double overtime in what may have been Penn State’s opportunity to win the game, Beckford was called offside. After hustling back on defense, junior defender Dani Marks prevented what may have been a  Michigan goal to end the game with close to a minute left.

With just 37 seconds left of the clock, Hallahan drove from the left side towards the top of the box. After kicking his left foot back, he placed the ball under the left side crossbar, ending the game and the Nittany Lions’ potential to secure their first conference victory of the season.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, head coach Bob Warming was proud of his team’s effort in this matchup against the ranked Wolverines.

“It’s not just rank, it’s what gets you instantly determined, so it is heartbreaking to lose the match,” said Warming. “We worked on a different system for this game. We worked on a different shape, and in two days the guys adopted it and did incredibly well with it. I’m super proud of them for that.”

Penn State will have a five-day break before returning to Jeffery Field on Oct. 7 to host the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

 

Ellie French is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email ejfrench97@gmail.com.