Men's Soccer Claims Sole Possession of First Place in the Big Ten with 2-1 Win Over Wisconsin
Oct. 31, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's soccer (10-5-2, 3-1-1 Big Ten) maintained control of its own destiny in the race for the conference title at the same time moved into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with a 2-1 victory over Wisconsin (6-8-2, 3-3-0) on Saturday afternoon at Jeffrey Field. With the win, the Nittany Lions complete their first undefeated season at home (7-0-2) since 2001 when they went 7-0.
Penn State, which tops the Big Ten with 10 points, can uphold that position with a Northwestern loss to Michigan on Sunday. The Nittany Lions and Wildcats entered the day tied for second with seven points, two behind Wisconsin. With a win over Indiana next weekend in Bloomington, Penn State can secure at least a share of its first regular season Big Ten championship since 2005.
Junior midfielder Matheus Braga (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) got Penn State on the scoreboard with his sixth goal of the season, converting on a penalty kick opportunity, the Nittany Lions' fourth of the year. Sophomore Corey Hertzog (Reading, Pa.) netted the game winner, his fifth of the season and his eighth goal overall. Senior forward Jason Yeisley (Allentown, Pa.) earned his fifth assist of the year on the play. Hertzog and Yeisley are tied for the team lead in goals, assists, and points.
Penn State started the game on a shaky note, struggling to gain possession while dealing with constant Wisconsin pressure. But the tide turned at the midpoint of the half and the Nittany Lions began to gain scoring opportunities.
In the 28th minute, Frank Costigliola lobbed a pass from just inside the box deep into the UW zone, where Corey Hertzog got free of the Wisconsin defense. However, his diving stab at a header shot just missed. Penn State thought it had another chance when Hertzog was taken down hard inside the box but no penalty kick was awarded. Sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Arment (Manheim, Pa.) nearly gave PSU the lead in the 31st minute, when after checking into the game just three minutes earlier, ripped a shot from 20 yards out that went just wide of an open goal.
The Nittany Lions' aggressive attacking style finally paid dividends in the waning moments of the first half. Deep inside the box, Jason Yeisley was attempting to jump and get a head on the ball but was shoved in the back by UW defender Aaron Nichols, drawing the foul and the resulting penalty kick. Braga drew the shooting assignment and put it easily past Wisconsin keeper Alex Horwath with just 18 seconds remaining in the half.
Penn State again weathered a Wisconsin storm early in the second half to strike back with solid runs and viable scoring chances of its own. In the 57th minute, Frank Costigliola played a beautiful ball from the left wing near midfield to Mackenzie Arment deep on the right wing. Arment centered the pass to Jason Yeisley but his shot went just high of net.
One minute later, a rocket off the foot of sophomore defender Justin Lee (Derwood, Md.) was on target but saved by the Wisconsin goalkeeper. Lee was central to another scoring opportunity in the 63rd minute when his pass into the box was nearly headed in by fellow sophomore defender Mark Fetrow (West Chester, Pa.), sailing just high.
Arment hooked up with junior forward Treavor Gelsinger (Shady Grove, Pa.) for another chance soon thereafter. Arment found Gelsinger just inside the box with pass. Gelsinger held the ball up with his back to the goal, turned suddenly, and got off a blistering shot that was corralled by the UW keeper.
Penn State's pressure again bore fruit in the 78th minute when Jason Yeisley and Corey Hertzog teamed for a goal for the fifth time this season. Hertzog hit Yeisley with a pass, who then pushed it back to Hertzog, who was speeding down the left wing. He broke left to gain a shooting angle and put a left-footed shot past the Wisconsin defender and keeper and into net far post from 14 yards away.
Wisconsin cut the PSU lead in half three minutes later when Scott Lorenz found Jon Rzepka open on the far post off a free kick on the right wing. He put it in high for his second goal of the season. But the Penn State defense would hold in the final minutes, giving the Nittany Lions the crucial win.
The tape delayed game will be re-aired on the Big Ten Network tomorrow, Sun., Nov. 1, at 4 p.m. With two wins this season, including its 1-0 triumph over Michigan State on Oct. 4, Penn State is 3-3 all-time in games broadcast on the BTN.
Seniors Diego Correa (Niteroi, Brazil), Frank Costigliola, Vincent Salvatico (Chester Springs, Pa.), Jacobo Vera (Pamplona, Spain), and Jason Yeisley (Allentown, Pa.) played their final regular season game at Jeffrey Field on Saturday. The group was honored for their contributions to the program in a special pre-game Senior Day ceremony.
The Nittany Lions will conclude regular season play on Fri., Nov. 6 when it visits Bloomington, Ind. and Bill Armstrong Stadium for a 3 p.m. match-up with archrival Indiana (8-7-1, 2-2-0 Big Ten). Penn State has taken four of its last six meetings with IU, including last season's 1-0 upset win over the 17th-ranked Hoosiers at Jeffrey Field. The postseason will kickoff the following weekend when the Lions return to Bloomington to begin pursuit of their fourth conference crown at the 2009 Big Ten Championship. To be hosted by Indiana University, the tournament is scheduled for Nov. 12-15.
Senior forward Jason Yeisley has been named a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, an honor that recognizes excellence in four areas - classroom, community, character, and competition. Fans can vote for Yeisley EVERY DAY by texting M9 to 704567 and by visiting www.seniorclassaward.com. Fan balloting, which counts for 1/3 of the final vote, continues until Nov. 13.