Penn State and JMU Draw at Home
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Nittany Lions men’s soccer team draws with James Madison University 1-1 on Tuesday evening after officials decide the game in the 71st minute due to foggy conditions.
Following last year's brutal 6-9-2 record, the Nittany Lions used a top-10 recruiting class to help propel them into the top 25 United Soccer Coaches Poll for the first time since 2015. Now, the Nittany Lions lead in the Big Ten and currently sit at 19th in the nation.
“Our goal is to continue to develop,” Penn State head coach Jeff Cook said. “It’s a well deserved recognition for the kind of season we are having and the effort that the players are putting in. The hope would be that this is just a starting point.”
Against JMU, this incredible one-year transformation continued on the back of Penn State leading scorer Aaron Molloy.
For the first 10 minutes of play, chances came from both teams but nobody was able to find the back of the net. In the 14th minute, James Madison had a free kick right outside the 18-yard box but their ball was readily cleared away by Penn State’s Alex Stevenson.
Early in the contest, Penn State did their best to get chances over the top to the 6-foot-3 Christian Sload. In the 18th minute, Sload was fed a beautiful ball just inside the box, but goaltender TJ Bush was able to come off his line and knock it away with his shins. Moments after it was cleared, Callum Pritchatt just missed a header on the far post.
In the 17th minute, JMU defender Tom Judge earned his first goal of the season. The Dukes were able to switch the field and the bouncing ball just went past the foot of Brandon Hackenberg and fell right to Judge. The goal marked the first for JMU in nearly 200 minutes after they got shutout by nationally-ranked Virginia and in-conference rival UNCW.
With just three minutes remaining in the first half, Molloy found the equalizer and got his team-leading seventh goal of the 2019 campaign. Dax Hoffman played an overarching ball into the box and Molloy was able to settle, turn, and put it in the back of the net. Molloy has received Big Ten Honors for two straight weeks and is making a case for a third.
In the second half, Penn State seemed to take it do JMU as they applied pressure in their attacking zone. By dictating play, they were able to get a few chances toward the goal. Fans at Jeffrey Field were livid after a no call as JMU made contact with Privett in the box. The game remained tied at one goal apiece.
In the 71st minute, the official stopped play. The referee thought the foggy conditions were too difficult to play in and thus called the game. By NCAA rule, all results after the 70th minute will officially stand.
“Disappointed we couldn’t finish and see who could win the game,” Cook said. “I thought we had some really good scoring opportunities and we’re frustrated we couldn't convert some of them.”
Penn State and James Madison are familiar foes as they have now met each of the past six seasons. With the draw, the tie remains in the series history now at 4-4-3.
James Madison has had a tough stretch now failing to win its third straight match. Coming into the contest, James Madison had an astounding 32 yellow cards and that trend continued against the Nittany Lions. Carson Jeffris needed no warning to get the teams 33rd yellow card.
Next up for the Dukes is the College of Charleston on Saturday, where they will look to secure the regular season championship.
Penn State faces some challenging opponents on their schedule to wrap up the regular season. They host No. 22 Maryland and travel to Piscataway to take on a taxing Rutgers team.
Kyle Cannillo is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism. To contact him please email email@example.com.