Nittany Lions Regain Confidence in 2-0 Victory over James Madison
Coming off what head coach Bob Warming called “the very worst comprehensive soccer performance ever” against the Temple Owls Friday night, the Penn State men’s soccer team dominated the James Madison Dukes in a 2-0 win Tuesday.
With junior midfielder Connor Maloney out with a concussion, the Nittany Lions looked to gain a spark from junior midfielder Riley Grant. Offensive play started off slow, but Grant was able to force the first corner kick of the match with 28:50 left in the opening half.
Walk-on and true freshman forward Mac Curran was able to produce the first shot and apparent goal for Penn State with 22:14 in the opening half, but Curran was quickly called offside.
“When you put something in the back of the net you always want it to be a goal, but I knew I was offside. I just had to keep going. I knew I was going to get one,” said Curran.
And he did. Seconds after Kyle MacDonald entered the game, the senior sent a through ball on his first touch to Curran. Curran one-touched around JMU defender Toby Appleton and sent the ball left, just past the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Kyle Morton. He put the Nittany Lions up 1-0 with 19:47 left to play in the first half.
The rest of the first half was scoreless between the Dukes and Nittany Lions, despite three shots from James Madison midfielder Connor Coward. Penn State managed four shots on goal in the first half.
“Our first half performance was ridiculous. It was incredible,” Warming said.
Second half play opened up with both James Madison and Penn State in attack mode. Early shots from Curran and senior midfielder Brian James gave the Nittany Lions a much-needed surge of energy.
“Our energy level was raised a lot today, knowing we didn’t have much at Temple. We had a slight formation change that matched our current personnel and I think that helped a lot,” James said.
James eventually found the back of the net as well, with a shot to the lower left corner of the goal on a free kick just outside the box to put the Nittany Lions up 2-0 with 25:18 left to play.
Not only was the Penn State offense experiencing a surge of energy, but so was the defense. With freshman forward Austin Maloney being moved to the left defensive back position in the second half, the Dukes had a hard time getting the ball up the field.
Dani Marks, Nate Lee, Brennan Ireland, Matt Bersano (GK), and Robby Sagel also contributed to the Penn State defense.
James Madison tried to produce a late surge with two shots from senior midfielder Eric Schmidt, but the damage was done, and Penn State was ultimately able to pull out the victory.
When asked the keys to winning Sunday’s game, Warming said, “We’ve got to be tight at the back and we need a little help from the midfield. We have to bring the same energy that we did today.”
The Nittany Lions are set to begin B1G conference play this Sunday at Jeffrey Field against the Indiana Hoosiers. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will be broadcasted live on ComRadio.
Tia Pattillo is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Shuyao Chen