By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's flurry of 4 first half goals proved to be too much to overcome for Ohio State in the Fourth Annual Mack Brady Match.
The Nittany Lions (3-2-1, 1-0-0 Big Ten) defeated the Buckeyes (1-5-0, 1-1-0 Big Ten) by a score of 4-2. It seemed to be a special night in all aspects. It was the Mack Brady Match, a pristine night and vuvuzela giveaway night, the humming horns that were made popular in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Among the humming came a quick Penn State goal. Almost 50 seconds into the match, Ohio State's passing mishap in the backfield led to Dayonn Harris breaking free. Harris made a nice move to get the ball to Connor Maloney. Maloney gathered for a few seconds and set up senior midfielder Mason Klerks with a soft leading touch pass who was actively looking for an opportunity on net. Klerks then drilled a low screaming one-timer from 19 yards out into the bottom left corner of the net.
"Connor was dribbling in," said Klerks. "I saw some space. I checked to the ball. He laid it off to me and I hit it in."
Klerks, a senior defensive midfielder and an unlikely goal scorer entered Tuesday's match with one career goal. Klerks registered two tallies in Penn State's Big Ten opening game that also extended the program's unbeaten record of 4-0 in Mack Brady Matches.
Klerks's second goal came off a Maloney free kick in which Klerks headed the ball into the net to put the Nittany Lions up 2-0 in the 26th minute of action.
"I don't score a lot of goals so that was really big for me," said Klerks
During training this week, Klerks stood out as an outstanding header. Assistant coach Chad Duernberger told head coach Bob Warming that Klerks surprisingly was the team's best header of the ball even though he plays more of a defensive role on the team.
"We've never had him up there, said Warming. "He's been here four years. It's about time. It only took me four years to realize he's really good with his head.
"With Mason getting two goals, you're always happy when anybody steps up but when it's a senior who's done the dirty work for three and a half years here, to be the defensive midfield player, to run nine to 12 miles a game, and go and win tackles and give the ball to someone else," said Warming. "For that guy to get rewarded and to score goals, that's huge so I'm happy when anybody gets goals but it was especially rewarding to him.
The Nittany Lions continued the excitement with two more goals to hold a 4-0 advantage at halftime. Penn State scored four goals for the first time in a game since 2012. In the 28th minute, Pierre Reedy was fouled in the box. Maloney took the penalty kick and put it easily into the left corner for his fourth goal of the season to extend Penn State's lead to 3-0. In the 42nd minute, an Ohio State turnover in the backfield led to Maloney finding Aymar Sigue who snuck behind the defense and beat the Ohio State goalkeeper for his second goal of the season.
Among all of the scoring was a moving moment. A Penn State foul in the box led to goalkeeper Arie Ammann making a world-class save on a Ohio State penalty kick. Ammann guessed right and dove toward the right post to deny the penalty kick.
"I love penalties," said Ammann. "I knew where he was going right from the start. It's not from video; I have a personal deal I do. I know where some guys are going."
Eerily in last year's Mack Brady Match, Penn State goalkeeper Matt Bersano also made a save on a penalty kick taken from that exact spot. Warming felt like there was a presence of the late Mack Brady. Mack, a child who dreamed of being a Penn State goalkeeper is honored annually after passing away unexpectedly from a blood infection at the age of eight a few years ago.
"It's inspiring," said Ammann. "It's something else other than just a game for us. There's a meaning to it. We went out there and fought for a cause other than ourselves. That's something that fueled us today and fuels us every day."
The Nittany Lions look to feed off of the Mack Brady victory when they travel to College Park, Maryland to take on No. 4 Maryland Sunday at 5 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.