Men’s Soccer Clinches Big Ten Title

Men’s Soccer Clinches Big Ten Title

On Sunday afternoon at Jeffrey Field, the No. 13 Penn State Men’s Soccer team took on No. 19 Northwestern. Not only was this event characterized by Senior Day and a “THON soccer game,” it was Penn State’s chance to capture its second straight Big Ten title. Starters for the Nittany Lions included Wolverton, Robinson, Howard, Seiler, Falk, Maloney, Klerks, Warming, Klingenberg, Tyler and Griffith. Though the critical matchup was highly anticipated, the first few minutes of the game were rather quiet. Indeed, Penn State’s first shot didn’t come until the 12th minute when Jordan Tyler attempted a goal from 18 yards out but shot wide. Their first shot on goal didn’t occur until the 27th minute by Grant Warming, who evidentially found the Northwestern keeper on the other end of the ball. Northwestern was eager to create opportunities of their own, and they did just that. In the 38th minute, Wildcat senior Lepe Seetane posted a great shot, but Wolverton came up with the diving save to keep the game scoreless. Penn State received a fair number of chances with just 5 minutes left in the first half: Howard and Wadid almost snuck one past the Northwestern keeper, and minutes later Shane Campbell executed a cross that Eli Dennis almost headed into the net.

As evidenced by the 0-0 score at the half, the Nittany Lions and Wildcats were closely matched. The teams posted similar stats at the midway point: 4 shots per team, 1 shot on goal per team, and 1 offside violation per team. Penn State earned a few scoring opportunities soon after entering the second half, sending a few dangerous balls into goal range, but Northwestern was resilient. Wildcat sophomore Joey Calistri (the league’s top-ranked scorer) slid one past Wolverton in the 56th minute giving Northwestern a 1-0 lead. Down by a goal, Penn State was ready to attack. Unfortunately for the Lions, the Wildcats stacked their defensive line to better their chance of maintaining the lead. Penn State responded by pushing one of its defensive players up into the mid-field, giving the Nittany Lions the support they needed on the offensive line. Despite attempts from Dennis and Maloney, and a countless number of corner kicks, Penn State just couldn’t execute in the final step – scoring. The chances, effort, and energy were there, but the ball just couldn’t make its way past Northwestern’s Zak Allen (who even had to change a goalie glove at one point!). Finally, with less than 2 minutes left in the half, Penn State’s Drew Klingenberg chipped the ball to Jordan Tyler who headed the ball, deflected it off an NU defender, and earned the equalizer. Excitement emerged and filled the stands as the Nittany Lions sent the game into overtime.

Despite the energy, excitement, and excellent scoring opportunities posted in the first overtime, the winning goal didn’t come until the second OT. Indeed, Jordan Tyler, off an assist from Penn State freshman Connor Maloney, slotted one past the NU keeper giving Penn State a 2-1 win and a Big Ten Championship title. As he ripped on his jersey and ran across the field, Jordan Tyler was embraced by his teammates in celebration.

This is the second straight and 5th overall Big Ten title for the Nittany Lions. They improve their record to 5-0-0 in the Big Ten and hope to perfect that record with a win over Ohio State on Saturday, November 2nd. In the meantime, the newly crowned Big Ten champions will travel to Philadelphia where they’ll face a non-conference team, Penn, on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.

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