Second Half Offensive Outpouring Lifts Nittany Lions to 3-1 Victory Over Bucknell
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; October 17, 2006 - Down 1-0 at halftime, the Penn State men's soccer team stormed from the break to score three consecutive goals and claim an inspired 3-1 victory over Bucknell Tuesday evening at Jeffrey Field. It marked the first time this season that the Nittany Lions have overcome a halftime deficit to gain a win. A productive offense once again proved to be the key to victory for Penn State, as the Lions are a perfect 5-0-0 this season when scoring two or more goals in a game.
While it is not entirely unusual for Penn State to score three goals in a game, as it did just nine days ago in a 3-0 romp over Buffalo, it is unusual for the Nittany Lions to score in the fashion they did versus Bucknell. All three goals came off of corner kicks, with two being blasted in by well-played and well-placed headers.
Just over 10 minutes into the second half, a hustle play by David Gray (Lemont, Pa.) ultimately led to Penn State's first goal of the game and the senior's first goal of the season. In the Bucknell zone, Gray outraced Bison defender Andrew Loia to a loose ball, forcing him to kick it over the back line, providing Penn State with a corner kick. Junior Chris Germani (Yardley, Pa.) served a perfect pass from the left corner to Gray who outjumped the defense and headed a rocket past Bucknell goalkeeper Joey Kuterbach.
In the game's 74th minute a nearly identical play, but this time featuring the combination of senior Jeff Chambers (Christiana, Pa.) and junior Geordie MacNeill (Richmond Hill, Ont.), gained Penn State a lead it would not relinquish. Chambers did the passing from the same corner as Germani and MacNeill performed the game-winning header from almost the same spot on the field as Gray. The goal was MacNeill's first of the season and the assist was Chambers' second, giving him six points on the year.
With the goals by Gray and MacNeill, 11 different players have now found net this season for Penn State. However, the Lions' third and final goal was tallied by a familiar offensive force, leading scorer senior Simon Omekanda (Rochester Hills, Mich.).
The play started with a heads-up move by Grady Renfrow (Washington, D.C.). After being awarded a corner kick, the junior placed the ball quickly, trying to catch the Bucknell defense off guard. The ploy worked, as he found a wide-open Daniel Martini (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) with a short pass. The freshman then immediately crossed a precise pass to Omekanda, who with a high kick, fired the ball into net for his team-high fourth goal of the season.
For junior goalkeeper Conrad Taylor (Colorado Springs, Colo.) the lone blemish on an otherwise standout performance came with a bit of controversy. A shot by Bucknell's Nathan LaGrave got by Taylor but appeared to be stopped short of the goal line by a Penn State defender. After play was halted and the officials deliberated, the Bison were awarded the goal. Corey Curnutte was credited with an assist on the play.
Despite the early deficit, Penn State dominated play on both ends for much of the game, but particularly in the second half. The Nittany Lions outshot the Bison 22-4 for the game, including a 14-1 advantage in the game's final 45 minutes. Ten of Penn State's shots were on goal as compared to just three for Bucknell.
With corner kicks playing such a prominent role in the victory, Penn State's 9-4 advantage in the statistical category takes on added significance.
The Nittany Lions will continue its home stand on Fri., Oct. 20 when No. 9 Indiana (10-3-2, 3-0-1 Big Ten) visits Jeffrey Field to renew one of the Big Ten's most heated rivalries. In 2005, Penn State made history by becoming the first conference team to defeat the Hoosiers twice in one season. This season's rematch, scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff, will be broadcast to a live national television audience on Fox Soccer Channel.
As a result of a concert at the Bryce Jordan Center, all fans attending the Penn State-Indiana game should enter with their vehicles from University Drive, using the gate near the corner of University Drive and Curtin Road, and park in the grass lots adjacent to Jeffrey Field. There will be no parking available in the paved Beaver Stadium lot.