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Nov. 21, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind nine combined points from one of the nation's top scoring tandem of junior forward Corey Hertzog (Reading, Pa.) and senior midfielder Matheus Braga (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Penn State blitzed Old Dominion, 4-1, on Sunday afternoon at Jeffrey Field in a second round contest of the 2010 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship.
The NCAA postseason win is the Nittany Lions' first since 2005, a 1-0 second round decision over Seton Hall, and the margin of victory is their largest since a 3-0 blanking of Robert Morris in the first round of championship play in 1994. Penn State advances to face ACC champion Maryland (18-2-1), which defeated Penn, 4-0, on Sunday night, in College Park on Sun., Nov. 28 at 5 p.m. A year ago, the Lions saw their season come to an end versus the Terrapins, falling 2-1 in a second round NCAA match-up in University Park.
Hertzog netted his second career hat trick and added an assist while Braga notched two assists, increasing his program-record total to 17 for the season and putting him in a first place tie for tops in the NCAA. With 20 goals and 46 points, Hertzog takes over the nation's lead in both statistical categories. Hertzog and Braga have combined to score a remarkable 73 points, believed to be the most by a pair of Nittany Lions in the 100-year history of the program.
Freshman forward Jordan Tyler (Rochester, Mich.) netted his fifth goal of the season and junior defender Matt Smallwood (Cochranville, Pa.) tallied his fourth assist this year in the win. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Brendan Birmingham (West Chester, Pa.) was solid in the face of 15 Old Dominion shots, making a career-high seven saves.
Penn State found itself in an all-too familiar place early on, surrendering the first goal for the fifth consecutive game. In the 14th minute, Federico Espinach connected with Old Dominion's leading scorer, Chris Harmon, with a pass as he was making a run down the right wing into the box. Harmon's rising shot towards the far post from 14 yards out was on target, giving the Monarchs a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions struggled to find their offensive rhythm in the early going and were held without a shot for the game's first 26-plus minutes. However, Penn State's first shot was all it would need to tie it up. In the 27th minute, Braga triggered the scoring play, arcing a pass into the box from the near wing. Hertzog chested the ball down to his foot and looped a shot over the head of a defender and ODU goalkeeper Evan Newton into net.
Just before the break, Penn State was the recipient of a bit of good luck, as a turnover in front of the Nittany Lion goal left ODU's Daniel Lidster unmarked with a look at an open net. But his shot traveled just wide and the teams went to halftime deadlocked at 1-1.
After being outshot 8-3 in the first half, Penn State came out strong in the second half working to gain its first lead of the game. On a free kick opportunity from 22 yards out, Hertzog nearly connected with the head of junior Mark Fetrow (West Chester, Pa.) and, a short time later, Braga beat Newton and had a sure chip shot goal headed away high of net by ODU defender Thomas Webb.
Penn State finally broke through with what would prove to be Corey Hertzog's sixth game winner of the season in the 73rd minute. Braga crossed a perfect pass into box that found the head of Hertzog, who flicked it in from eight yards out.
Goals then came in fast and furious fashion for the Nittany Lions, as they would add two more in the span of less than nine minutes.
With less than 13 minutes remaining in the game, Smallwood played a ball up the near sideline to Hertzog, who then took it wide and up field. Crossing it into the box, Hertzog hit Tyler, who played the ball down and smashed a shot that banged off the post and into net.
Penn State put the finishing touches on the victory in the 82nd minute when Hertzog converted on his second penalty kick of the season. Birmingham got the ball to Hertzog 35 yards out, dropping a perfect pass to him off a goal kick. Getting behind the defense and battling two Monarch back line players to get off a shot, he was taken down hard in the box, drawing the penalty kick.
With the victory, Penn State ups its all-time NCAA postseason record to 25-28-1.