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Nov. 2, 2010
EASTON, Pa. - Despite playing without the nation's top scoring tandem of Corey Hertzog (Reading, Pa.) and Matheus Braga (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), which entered the contest accounting for 55 of the team's 107 points, Penn State extended its winning streak to three games by piecing together a 1-0 road win over Lafayette (7-7-3) on Tuesday evening at Oaks Stadium.
Penn State (11-5-1), which is ranked a Big Ten-best No. 8 in the latest RPI rankings, got just enough from its makeshift offense and used a suffocating second half defensive performance to claim victory in its final non-conference contest of the 2010 regular season.
"It was a good scenario," said head coach Bob Warming. "We won a game without Corey and Matheus. That's a great thing. We won a game on the road, giving us four for the season. That's a great thing. A lot of guys played a lot of minutes, so hopefully that will up their confidence. All in all, there were a lot of positives. No one had a stellar match but that wasn't as much of a concern as long as we hung together and got the win."
Sophomore Daniel Burnham (Boise, Idaho), a transfer from Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore., was the difference maker, scoring his first goal as a Nittany Lion. Junior defender Matt Smallwood (Cochranville, Pa.) and junior midfielder Justin Lee (Derwood, Md.) assisted on the game winner. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Brendan Birmingham (West Chester, Pa.) needed to make only one save to secure his second and the team's sixth shutout of the season.
Hertzog, who leads the team with 14 goals and 32 points, and Braga, who tops PSU with 12 assists, missed the game while serving suspensions for card accumulation.
The Nittany Lions were greeted by a little piece of home when they took to Lafayette's Mike Bourger '44 Field, as members of Jeffrey's Den, Penn State's student section, made the three-hour plus car trip to Easton for the game.
Penn State then struck early, claiming what would be the only lead it would need in the eighth minute. Justin Lee triggered the scoring run, playing ball wide to Matt Smallwood, who was positioned 28 yards out. Smallwood then served a cross into the box, finding Daniel Burnham making a run towards the back half of the goal. Burnham finished the opportunity, putting the ball into net from six yards out.
The Nittany Lions dodged a major bullet later in the half when a shot by Lafayette's Eli Hajjar clanged off the crossbar. Less than two minutes later, Birmingham would record his lone save of the game, stopping a shot by Sam Feldbaum. That would be the last legitimate threat to Penn State's lead the Leopards would be able to mount.
Penn State dominated play in the second half, holding Lafayette without a single shot. The Nittany Lions would attempt six but couldn't further distance themselves on the scoreboard. They would outshoot the Leopards, 11-4, for the game, including a 5-1 advantage in shots on goal.
Unbeaten in four straight, the Nittany Lions will wrap up their 2010 regular season schedule later in the week when they travel to face Big Ten foe Wisconsin (2-12-2, 0-4-1) on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET at the McClimon Soccer Complex. Penn State has lost four consecutive to the Badgers in Madison.
PENN STATE TO HOST 2010 BIG TEN MEN'S SOCCER TOURNAMENT
From November 11-14, Penn State will host the 2010 Big Ten Tournament at Jeffrey Field. The Nittany Lions have hosted the annual conference postseason event on three occasions, with the last coming in 2002. Call 814-865-5555 (Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.) to order tickets or download a ticket order form