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Nov. 24, 2013
Santa Barbara, Calif. Harder Stadium Attendance: 4,420
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A beautiful 78th-minute goal by freshman Connor Maloney (Harrisburg, Pa.) helped No. 16 Penn State men's soccer past 10th-seeded and 15th-ranked UC Santa Barbara, 1-0, on Sunday night at Harder Stadium in front of 4,420 fans.
"The level of effort and the level of intensity by our team in a pretty hostile place to play [were] fantastic," head coach Bob Warming said. "I couldn't have been more proud of them. UCSB has some wonderful, talented players, some of the best we've seen all year, and to get a result against them is something that's really fantastic."
In a physical game that saw a combined 37 fouls committed and six cards shown, including a 6th-minute red card to UCSB's Fifi Baiden, Penn State (13-5-2) prevailed on a cool evening next to the Pacific Ocean. The Nittany Lions controlled the pace of play in the second half and eventually cracked the UCSB (12-6-3) code.
Mike Robinson (Landsdale, Pa.) whipped a cross to Jordan Tyler (Rochester, Mich.) the top of the penalty arc as Tyler had his back to goal. He laid a perfectly timed pass to a running Maloney who took one touch to his right and uncorked an 18-yard bullet to the left-side netting past Gaucho goalkeeper Josh McNeely with just 12:15 remaining in the match.
Maloney's second collegiate goal sent the fervent Penn State faithful and the Nittany Lion bench into delirium and in line for an upset bid. Penn State managed the final 10 minutes well and earned a spot in the NCAA Third Round to face New Mexico on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. ET.
The victory was just Penn State's fifth on the road in NCAA play. The last PSU road win in an NCAA match was Nov. 22, 1998 at Connecticut in the NCAA First Round. Penn State is in the round of 16 for the fifth time since 2001 and the second time under Warming.
An action-packed opening 45 minutes saw an early chance by Maloney from 20 yards go begging just wide right in the fifth minute. Less than a minute later, a viscous late scissor-tackle of freshman midfielder Mason Klerks (Corona, Calif.) by UCSB's starting center midfielder Fifi Baiden, earned him a red card and put the Gauchos down a man.
UCSB controlled the tempo of the play despite playing with 10 men, owning possession and working its way into the Penn State half of the field. Nevertheless, Penn State had the better chances early with Drew Klingenberg (Gibsonia, Pa.) slashing through the Gaucho defense and uncorking a right-footed blast from 20 yards out that was deflected wide of the right post in the 31st minute.
In the final minute of the half a UCSB free kick to the right post was headed back into the middle of the penalty area, eventually finding the head of forward Achille Campion, which required a diving save from Andrew Wolverton (Atlanta, Ga.) to his right.
The action would be Wolverton's only save of the match as he earned his eighth shutout of the year and 23rd of his career. He's one shutout shy of tying second on Penn State's all-time shutout list. Penn State now has a shutout streak of 290 minutes with three straight clean sheets.
In the second half, the Gauchos had their best scoring chance in the 49th minute as a loose ball off a corner kick play got over the PSU defense, but no one was there to knock it home and it was cleared from danger. UCSB managed just one shot all half as PSU out-shot the Gauchos, 10-4, in the game.
Dennis nearly put the Nittany Lions ahead in the 55th minute off a Nate Lee (Derwood, Md.) long ball, but his six-yard effort went wide right of net.
For the match, Penn State led in shots (10-4), fouls (11-4), yellow cards (3-2), while UCSB owned corner kicks (4-3), saves (2-1) and the lone red card.