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Sept. 29, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 24 Penn State men's soccer team outshot Saint Francis by a remarkable 38-8 margin and had a dominating 24-4 advantage in shots on goal but needed a late two-goal rally to dispatch the Red Flash, 4-3, on Wednesday night at Jeffrey Field. With the win, the Nittany Lions up their overall record to 6-2 and even their 2010 home mark at 2-2.
Junior forward Corey Hertzog (Reading, Pa.), who had a game-high 10 shots and six shots on goal, took over sole possession of the NCAA lead in goals by netting his ninth of the season. Junior defenders Matt Smallwood (Cochranville, Pa.) and Mark Fetrow (West Chester, Pa.) and junior midfielder Mackenzie Arment (Manheim, Pa.) accounted for Penn State's other scores. Senior midfielder Matheus Braga (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) recorded his NCAA-best ninth and 10th assists of the season. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Brendan Birmingham (West Chester, Pa.) made his first collegiate start and earned the win.
Penn State bolted from the gates, scoring on just its second shot of the non-conference contest. Sophomore defender Brian Forgue (Glenmoore, Pa.) made the play happen with hustle and determination, fighting off two Saint Francis defenders to gain possession of the ball deep in the Red Flash zone. Getting a free foot on the ball, Forgue slipped a centering pass from near the end line to Corey Hertzog, who then banged home an offering from 12 yards out to the lower left corner of net. For Forgue, the assist was the first of his career.
The Nittany Lions then threatened to blow the game wide open by bombarding SFU goalkeeper Daniel Valcicak, who finished the game with a school-record 20 saves, with a barrage of shots, totaling 15 through the opening 20-plus minutes of the first half. Hertzog and freshman forward Jordan Tyler (Rochester, Mich.) had the best opportunities to extend the PSU lead but their shots only lead to Saint Francis saves. In the end, Valcicak and the Red Flash weathered the storm and came through without any further first half damage.
Saint Francis responded to knot the game at 1-1 in the 36th minute when Patrick Fleming converted on a free kick opportunity from 22 yards out. His shot went off a Penn State defender who was positioned in the wall then skipped off the left post and into net.
Heading into halftime, Penn State totaled 20 shots as compared to Saint Francis' four but the scoreboard read 1-1.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Saint Francis was able to take its first lead of the game when Kingsley McLeod scored his first goal of the season. Patrick Fleming and Taylor Powers were credited with assists on the play.
Penn State bounced back to tie the game at 2-2 with exactly 30 minutes remaining when Matt Smallwood netted his first career goal. Off a free kick, Matheus Braga served a perfect ball into the box that Smallwood got his head on and punched in.
After 21 minutes of scoreless, back-and-forth action, Saint Francis' Tyler Hibbs ignited a late flurry of goals when his blast from 27 yards out at the 81:10 mark found its way through a mix of players in front of net to reclaim the lead for the Red Flash. The play was set up when Brendan Birmingham punched away a corner kick offering that then found the foot of Hibbs.
Undaunted by a second deficit, it took Penn State just 45 seconds to gain the equalizer. After pressing the ball into the Saint Francis zone, junior defender Patrick Krispin (The Woodlands, Texas), who was seeing his first action of the 2010 season, had the ball come to him near the top of the box. Jumping to get a foot on it, Krispin spied an unmarked Mark Fetrow pushing forward inside the 18 and chipped the ball to him. Fetrow then knocked a shot in from 13 yards out for his second goal of the season.
The game winner came less than four minutes later in the 86th minute. Matheus Braga once again initiated the scoring play, again off a free kick. Lofting a pass deep into the box, the 5-9 Mackenzie Arment outjumped the defense and headed the ball into net, providing Penn State with the winning margin.
Penn State will make its first Big Ten road trip of the season this weekend, traveling to Ann Arbor to face Michigan on Sun., Oct. 3 at the U-M Soccer Complex. The game, which will air tape delayed on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m., is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start. The Nittany Lions are 9-3-1 all-time versus the Wolverines, including last season's 2-0 victory at Jeffrey Field.