By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's soccer found themselves in yet another game requiring extra time. The Nittany Lions were awarded a penalty kick in the second overtime and Austin Maloney beat the goalkeeper to defeat Wisconsin, 2-1, Friday night at Jeffrey Field.
Through eight matches so far this season, five of them were overtime matches. Penn State (4-3-1, 2-1-0 Big Ten) found themselves on the winning side Friday, but it didn't come easy against the Badgers (3-2-1, 2-1-0 Big Ten), who came into the game undefeated in the Big Ten.
The Nittany Lions started the match with a different looking lineup. Head coach Bob Warming decided to go with senior Evan Finney in goal. Finney was the Nittany Lions' opening game starter but took a bad collision to the head in the second game of the season. Freshman Arie Ammann filled in during Finney's absence.
"It was pretty emotional honestly to start," said Finney. "I took a bad, bad blow to the head. I was in the hospital for a day."
Finney sported his customized rugby style head gear that he was fitted with after the injury. Perspiration got into his eyes from the headgear but he battled through it to record the victory. He felt very comfortable with the defensive backline in his first game back.
"It was just like I picked up right where I left off," said Finney.
Also missing from the lineup was senior team captain and team leader in scoring, Connor Maloney, who remained inactive after sustaining an injury in Sunday's Maryland match. Warming told the team that a collective effort was needed to replace his importance on the field. Maloney not only scores, but with the use of GPS technology used by the team, he runs the most miles in every training and game, according to Warming.
"We had a lot of miles to make up with everyone else," said Warming. "I thought Aymar (Sigue), Dayonn (Harris), Mason (Klerks) and all these guys made up all that ground that we lost from the running of Connor."
At halftime the match remained scoreless with little scoring opportunities. Early in the second half, Penn State benefitted from a Wisconsin miscue. In the 54th minute, Wisconsin defender Sam Brotherton headed Pierre Reedy's header directly into the top center of the net to put Penn State up 1-0.
The Badgers turned up the offensive pressure later in the second half. In the 77th minute, Wisconsin's Christopher Mueller snuck a rolling shot into the right side of the net from 12 yards out, beating a diving Finney to even the game at 1-1. A score that stood at the end of regulation.
Physicality on the field turned up a notch in extra time. There were more tough challenges for the ball as each team vied to an important Big Ten win. Overtime was a tale of two ten minute periods. Wisconsin had pressured to score in the first session, before Penn State finally broke through in the second ten minutes. Wisconsin committed a foul on Noah Pilato in the box which led to the game-winner.
Without Connor Maloney, the Blue and White had to go with alternate penalty kick taker. Dayonn Harris was supposed to take the kick but felt extreme leg fatigue from playing 87 grueling minutes, so Austin Maloney, Connor's younger brother took the kick. The sophomore midfielder scored as he went top left corner as Wisconsin's goalkeeper went right.
Maloney sprinted across the field to celebrate his first career collegiate goal with the roaring Sons of Jeffrey student section. Also celebrating the goal was honorary captain Bob Little, a former Penn State men's soccer player who played on the 1954 and 1955 national championship teams. Maloney's game-winning penalty kick was a bit more special to Little as he donates the money to endow Austin's Maloney's scholarship.
Alongside Little were Dick Packer, Ron Coder and Don Shirk who served as honorary captains for the match. They sat with the Nittany Lion team during the game and were honored for playing on Penn State's national championship teams under legendary coach Bill Jeffrey.
The Nittany Lions are back in action when they take on Temple at Jeffrey Field on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.
For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.