MSOC: Late goal for Penn State downs Wisconsin
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Freshman forward Jeremy Rafanello’s 79th minute goal was the difference for Penn State (4-6-2, 2-2-2 Big Ten) in its 1-0 win over Wisconsin (6-5-2, 3-2-0).
The two teams tied in shots with nine, but Wisconsin managed to get just one on net, while Penn State put five balls in on goalkeeper Dean Cowdroy. Penn State held the majority of possession the whole match leading to the late goal from Rafanello.
“We knew that was a really important victory to get us as high up in the standings as we can get, so I’m delighted for the players,” head coach Jeff Cook said. “I thought their discipline and the way they stuck to the challenge was really impressive.”
The match was a tale of two halves; both teams struggled to get offense going early on in this match. The first half was relatively uneventful with just two good chances throughout the half.
Ethan Beckford took a shot from the top of the box that dipped just over the crossbar with about 20 minutes left in the first half. About 10 minutes after the Beckford chance, Wisconsin’s Zach Klanick’s long throw found Michael Russell 10 yards from goal, but his shot went wide.
The second half was a different story. The two teams combined for 12 shots, six each, in the second half and many of those chances were of higher quality than in the first half.
Ethan Beckford said Penn State didn’t do much different in the second half and the team’s success had more to do with their perseverance.
“I think in the first half, Wisconsin came out and tried to just sit back and try and absorb the pressure,” sophomore forward Ethan Beckford said. “Second half, we just crushed them.”
In the first few minutes of the second half, both teams had corner kicks that found head’s in the box, but both goalkeepers were there to make the saves. Each team had four corner kicks in the second half, one of them leading to Penn State’s goal.
Cowdroy was the busier of the two keepers in this match, facing five shots and stopping four of them.
After Penn State scored, Wisconsin came back aggressively. If not for an outstanding diving save from Penn State keeper Josh Levine, Wisconsin would have drawn level with less than seven minutes to play in the second half.
“That save that Josh makes is just incredible to secure the victory,” Cook said.
Wisconsin is back in action against Michigan Friday night at home in Madison.
Penn State begins its last four matches of the season Wednesday night at home against Detroit Mercy. The team closes out the season with its last two Big Ten matches. The Nittany Lions will travel to Maryland on Oct. 23 and host Rutgers on Oct. 28.
The Big Ten Tournament begins on Nov. 3, with the championship game scheduled to be played on Nov. 11. The NCAA Tournament opens up play on Nov. 15.
“I think we have the chance to fight for a home game,” Cook said about the Big Ten Tournament.
Josh Starr is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.