Rutgers Bends But Doesn’t Break to Down Penn State Men’s Soccer in Home Finale

Story posted October 26, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Kasey Kreider

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The atmosphere was intense for Tuesday night’s final home game of the Penn State men’s soccer season against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. After 90 hard-fought minutes, Rutgers (8-3-5 overall, 4-2-2 Big Ten) came out with a 2-1 decision over the Nittany Lions (5-5-4 overall, 2-2-3 Big Ten).

Rutgers dominated through much of the first half and took a decisive 2-0 lead into halftime. The second half is when Penn State began to find their footing, scoring in the 65th minute and getting several more looks at the goal over the final moments of the match. For each Penn State attack, Rutgers had a counter, and hung on down the stretch.

“I thought maybe we were just a second late in a couple critical moments,” head coach Jeff Cook said after the game. “But on another night, I think we could have scored three or four goals and been much happier than we are right now with the outcome of the game.”

It seemed to be a case of “close, but no cigar” most of the second half for the Nittany Lions. But in the first half, it didn’t look as if the game would be close at all.

Rutgers dominated on the defensive end during much of the first frame, controlling the possessions and sticking to the Penn State attackers like glue all throughout. The first goal came courtesy of sophomore Matthew Acosta, who fired one into the back of the net in the 26th minute.

Penn State began to get their offense rolling in the closing minutes of the half, but freshman Ian Abbey came in off the bench and instantly deflated all momentum with a 40th-minute goal that almost looked like a carbon copy of the one 14 minutes prior.

The Nittany Lions went into the locker room with some hope, but a two-goal deficit that needed to be erased. When both teams returned to the field, the game took on a noticeably more aggressive tone, with each team clearly aware of the implications the match had in the Big Ten chase.

“When you compete like this… you’re deep in the Big Ten season, points are so valuable,” Cook said. “On some occasions, the aggression boiled over, and the emotions got the better of everybody involved in the game.”

The aggression was shown in the form of multiple fouls and yellow cards going against each side. The most crucial penalty was a red card given to Penn State junior defender Femi Awodesu, forcing the Nittany Lions to play down a man for the game’s final 13 minutes.

That penalty, however, was not before Penn State’s offense got humming. Many close calls finally turned into a score in the game’s 65th minute, as junior Peter Mangione cut the deficit in half.

Despite being down on the scoreboard, Penn State seemed to have Rutgers back on their heels. But the Scarlet Knights were scrappy down around their own goal, with freshman goalkeeper Ciaran Dalton making several impressive saves throughout the match to keep Rutgers’ lead intact.

Even after the loss of Awodesu, Penn State still had chances to tie the game up. A few free kick opportunities and attacks deep into Rutgers’ zone were the highlights of a late-game push.

But each time the Nittany Lions came knocking, there was nobody home. A foul on senior Olu Ogunwale with ten seconds left brought an end to Penn State’s last-gasp scoring effort.

“There’s no quit in this team,” Cook said. “And I think you saw that even though we were man down for the latter stages of that game tonight.”

Penn State men’s soccer will cap off regular season play when they travel to play Michigan on Sunday, Oct. 30.


Kasey Kreider is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email