Men's Soccer Edged by Northwestern, 1-0
Oct. 16, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion men's soccer team suffered its third consecutive 1-0 setback, falling to Northwestern (7-4-3, 2-0-1) in a tightly-contested Big Ten match at Jeffrey Field on Sunday afternoon.
Penn State (6-6-2, 0-4-0) outshot Northwestern for the game, 12-6, including a 5-4 advantage in shots on goal. But it was one of the Wildcats' three second half shots that proved to be the difference in the game.
In the 59th minute, Peter O'Neill made a run with the ball to the far corner and, after acquiring space, crossed a left-footed pass into the box that glanced off the back of a Nittany Lion defender. The misdirected offering found the head of Oliver Kupe, who powered it into net from eight yards out.
Penn State had its chances to take a lead in the first half but could not convert. Very early on, in the fifth minute, freshman goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton (Snellville, Ga.) took a free kick near midfield, dropping the ball into the box. Senior defender Mark Fetrow (West Chester, Pa.) flicked it off his head deeper towards goal, seeking a finisher. Junior forward Hasani Sinclair (Coral Gables, Fla.) was in position to score but his up-close shot was saved by Northwestern goalkeeper Tyler Miller.
Senior defender Matt Smallwood (Cochranville, Pa.) kept the game at 0-0 in the 12th minute, preventing a sure goal with a clutch play. Positioned on the far post on a re-start, Smallwood headed a Kupe shot off the line, clearing it from danger.
Later in the half, both junior forward Daniel Burnham (Boise, Idaho), who earned his first start of the season on Sunday, and Marvin Ledgister (London, England) had good looks at the goal in open space but couldn't quite get the ball on their foot in order to get off a solid shot.
Penn State's amped up the offensive pressure in the second half, creating more scoring opportunities. In the 50th minute, senior midfielder Mackenzie Arment (Manheim, Pa.) sent a cross field pass to the near side to junior midfielder Daniel Parr (Hummelstown, Pa.). After taking a quick touch, Parr pushed the ball ahead to Sinclair, who was making a run down the sideline. Sinclair broke away towards the middle and got off a shot, but his offering sailed high of net.
Just minutes over a minute later, Penn State was back at it in the offensive zone. After several Nittany Lions played the ball around near the top of box seeking space for an open shot, it came to freshman Owen Griffith (Lewisburg, Pa.) at the 18. With a clear look, Griffith pulled the trigger on a blast but his rising shot was punched away high by NU's Miller.
Griffith also had, perhaps, Penn State's last best chance to tie the game. With just under 13 minutes remaining, junior midfielder John Gallagher (Pine Bush, N.Y.) passed the ball to Arment, who was positioned inside the box with his back to goal. After a touch, Arment distributed the ball to Griffith, but his shot from 18 yards out to the near post was saved.
Sinclair led the Nittany Lions with five shots.
Wolverton had two saves in the 14th consecutive start of his rookie campaign, including a beautiful one-on-one point blank stop of a Kupe shot in the first half.
This week, Penn State will begin a grueling four-game road swing that will see the Nittany Lions log nearly 1,700 miles of round trip travel when it visits Baltimore on Wednesday, Oct. 19 for a 7 p.m. contest with UMBC (7-3-3). In 2010, the Lions fell to the Retrievers, 2-1, in overtime at Jeffrey Field in the first-ever meeting between the two programs.