Penn State Clipped by Michigan 2-0
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In a rare occasion where they outshot the opponent, Penn State fell to Michigan 2-0 Sunday as they now slide to fourth place in the Big Ten conference standing. The Wolverines outshot the Nittany Lions 15-6.
Both teams came into the match sporting identical 4-2-1 (1-0-1 Big Ten) records, but Michigan has now claimed sole possession of the top spot as star freshman Francis Atuahene and Will Mellors-Blair both found goals to push their team to victory.
The Maloney brothers, Connor and Austin, lead the Penn State attack early.
Connor, the junior midfielder, appeared to put the offense on his back at times. In the 25th minute, he dribbled around three defenders and fired a shot from just outside the box, searching for the elusive equalizing goal.
“I love that Connor wants to put the game on his shoulders,” said head coach Bob Warming. “Some guys would pass the ball off, Connor wants to get in the goal. As long as he keeps that mentality, we’re going to win a lot of games."
Austin, the younger brother, made strong runs down the right touchline all match. He almost put Penn State on the board in the 18th minute after receiving the ball down the sideline, faking out his marker to find space for a shot that opposing goalkeeper Evan Louro climbed up to save.
Moments later, Austin made another run up the touchline, this time crossing it into the box to Connor, whom controlled the ball and fired a strike directly at Louro.
“I just know my brother’s always going to be there,” said Connor. “I can put it in space and he’s fast enough to get that ball. He’s only a freshman … he has a great career ahead of him.”
In the 36th minute, Michael Kapitula returned a back heel pass to Mellors- Blair on a one-two just outside the box that left Mellors-Blair alone to finish for the opening goal.
As their comeback bid began to close, Penn State goalie Matt Bersano poorly cleared the ball to Atuahene, whom marveled at the late opportunity and poached a shot in from distance for his sixth goal of the season.
Atuahene’s six goals places in a tie for first place in the conference.
The Nittany Lions opened the game sluggish through the opening 10 minutes, which saw Michigan fire two early shots. Eventually, the blue and white found continuity on the pitch, but could not punch one in.
Making his first start of his career, Dayonn Harris missed an open shot wide left in the 16th minute after a series a sharp passes in the box gave him a clean look.
Harris finished the match with a game-high five shots.
The Nittany Lions will head back on the road for two games, starting with a non-conference matchup with No. 9 Akron on Wednesday.
“We’re going to have to get regenerated, and that starts now, for a really tough opponent, probably the highest RPI opponent we’ll play the rest of the year,” Warming added.
Marley Paul is a senior digital and print journalism major at Penn State. Contact him via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @MPaulPSU