No. 23 Penn State Beats No. 21 Maryland 3-2 in Season Opener
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For the first time in 463 days, the Penn State men’s soccer team took the field at Holuba Hall Friday night and the result was a 3-2 win against Maryland.
Originally scheduled to play in the fall, the season was postponed to the spring because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The spring season will feature a 10-game schedule limiting the matches to conference opponents only.
Typically, the team plays at Jeffrey Field, but with the season opener occurring in February with several inches of snow covering the field, the match was moved indoors.
In 2019, Penn State finished the season with a record of 12-4-3 overall record, good for a second-place finish in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions also earned a NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2014.
Last season, Penn State beat Maryland for the first time since 2005 in an overtime comeback win, 3-2. This year both teams want to start their season on the right track, especially when each game has a larger implication for the teams that want to make the postseason.
The Nittany Lions started the game by getting on the scoreboard early, thanks to a goal by sophomore Andrew Privett only 5:19 into the game. The ball found the lower left side of the net and was assisted by freshman Peter Mangione.
Following the opening goal, both teams took turns trying to penetrate the other team’s defense. It was a physical game with 13 fouls between the two teams in the first half.
Penn State capitalized on their opportunities pulling ahead 2-0 on a goal by senior Pierre Reedy, 25:05 into the game. The score followed a throw in by the Nittany Lions and a shot into the top right of the net that Maryland freshman goalkeeper Jamie Lowell could not stop.
Reedy scored his first goal since 2016 and has overcome injuries to be a leader on this soccer team. He was content with his performance tonight.
“It just felt right to shoot, wasn’t aiming for the top corner but it ended up there, so I was just happy with the result,” said Reedy, emphasizing the importance of the game. “We came out flying, the other thing is… it’s Maryland. Everyone was super pumped to play again.”
Sensing momentum, Penn State continued their pressure on Maryland’s defense. It worked, less than 10 minutes after the previous goal Nittany Lions struck again. This time it was Mangione, scoring the first goal of his collegiate career. The score was 34:23 into the game, an excellent pass by junior Daniel Bloyou set up the finish into the lower left corner of the net.
The Terrapins adjusted through substitutions and attempted to control the ball more often. Down 3-0, Maryland caught the break they needed from the yellow flag on Penn State defender, sophomore Alex Stevenson. Being inside the penalty area, a penalty shot was awarded and freshman Joe Suchecki converted the kick.
The score remained at 3-1 heading into halftime with the Nittany Lions in the lead. Maryland would have to come out with aggressive play if they wanted to come back into the game.
The second half went back and forth for the first 25 minutes, then the Terrapins closed the gap with a goal to make the score 3-2. The score was 73:22 into the match. Following a Maryland throw in, the team dribbled the ball towards the net where freshman Jacen Russell-Rowe ripped a shot into the top left of the net past goalie Kris Shakes.
Down a goal Maryland continued on the attack hoping to push for a tie. However, Penn State continued to counter strike and clear the ball. Goaltender Kris Shakes made critical saves to help the Nittany Lions complete the 3-2 upset over the Terrapins.
Head Coach Jeff Cook was very proud of his team’s performance.
“Absolutely thrilled with tonight's win over an outstanding Maryland team,” said Coach Cook. “I could not be prouder of the effort of our guys. Unbelievable goals and contributions from across our squad.”
Cook noted a couple changes would be needed for the team’s next game, lineup wise, but stressed the importance of getting their first win, especially against a ranked rival in Maryland.
These two teams will meet again on March 31, this time at Ludwig Field in College Park, MD, as the Nittany Lions will be the away team. Penn State trails Maryland in the all time series 19-25-5.
Next game for Penn State is Tuesday, Feb 23, against Rutgers University in an away game that kicks off at noon.
Matt Noah is a sophomore majoring in journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.