Butts scores twice as Penn State wins Big Ten opener over Northwestern
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — “Let’s do it for Mack” was the mindset for today, as Penn State continued its winning ways, defeating Northwestern 2-1. The Nittany Lions improve to 4-2-1 on the season while the Wildcats drop to 2-3-2.
This game marked the ninth annual Mack Brady match. The tradition came about after 8-year-old Mack Brady tragically passed away on New Year’s Eve in 2012 due to a blood infection.
Brady grew up playing soccer and was a huge Penn State fan which caused the creation of this annual tradition.
“We are honored to continue the legacy of Mack Brady,” head coach Jeff Cook said. “We are so fortunate to work with the Brady’s to create this really special moment.”
As for the game, the two teams traded chances early but neither team could not capitalize.
The Wildcats continued to generate offense and they would eventually find the back of the net as sophomore forward Justin Weiss fired a shot past Nittany Lion goalkeeper Kris Shakes in the 12th minute. The goal was Weiss' second on the season.
For the blue and white this was their fifth straight game playing from behind. “We have to come out and create more chances,” Cook said. “When goals are scored it is usually three mistakes in a row.”
After allowing the early goal the Nittany Lions played with urgency trying to tie the game. Their best chance came in the 24th minute when junior midfielder Andrew Privett hit the post.
Penn State continued that urgency for the entirety of the first half as they outshot Northwestern 12-4.
Cook encouraged his team to continue to keep getting chances and they wasted no time to start the second half as just 19 seconds in, junior forward Liam Butts tied the game at 1.
“The quicker we score the easier it becomes for us,” Butts said “Once we got that goal I knew we were going to take over.”
The blue and white did just that, as it was Butts once again to find the back of the net as he scored on a beautiful pass from senior forward Danny Bloyou. The two goals for Butts now puts him at four on the season.
The second half featured a lot of back and forth play between the two squads as both teams wanted to get that next goal.
The Wildcats needing a goal to tie the game came just inches away when Spencer Howard just missed the net on a shot.
After a few clutch saves by goalkeeper Kris Shakes the Nittany Lions came away with a 2-1 victory.
The win did come at a cost for the blue and white as sophomore midfielder Peter Mangione left the game with an injury in the 81st minute.
Overall, Penn State outshot Northwestern 24-10. The Nittany Lions also had six shots on goal compared to the Wildcats three.
Northwestern was extremely aggressive in the match as they committed 12 fouls while Penn State had just four.
Penn State will look to continue its winning streak when it takes on Villanova on Tuesday, September 21.
Alex Rocco is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.