Penn State Wins a Thriller in Overtime
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State topped the Northwestern Wildcats 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night. Led by the two-goal effort of Liam Butts, the Nittany Lions found a way to pull out a gritty win.
“It comes down to character and willpower sometimes,” head coach Jeff Cook said. “We had to find a way to get three points in the league, no matter how it came.”
Coming into the night’s action, the Nittany Lions were looking to improve on their 5-2-2 record, while the Wildcats tried to find a turning point in their less than favorable 5-6-1 season.
While the game began as a search for offensive possession, it opened up a bit after Northwestern’s first corner kick, which resulted in a shot sent wide and was followed by two offensive chances for the Nittany Lions.
A flurry of offensive chances for Penn State was met with strong resistance from the Wildcats defense, which managed to deflect all of the Nittany Lions’ attempts towards the net.
The tides seemed to shift when a red card was issued to Northwestern defender Julian Zighelboim for a mistimed slide tackle on Penn State forward Liam Butts. The card came at the 27-minute mark of the first half, giving Penn State plenty of time to play with the man advantage.
Northwestern held strong though, managing to hold off a barrage of Nittany Lions opportunities and even creating a few of its own for the remainder of the first half.
The best opportunity of the first half came off of a beautiful cross to Penn State forward Seth Kuhn, who struck the ball on the first touch and sent it just a few feet wide of the goal.
Shortly after, Kuhn fouled a Northwestern forward in Penn State’s defensive half of the field, giving the Wildcats a prime opportunity, but that penalty kick was sent just high of the net.
While neither team recorded a shot on net in the first half, the Nittany Lions outshot Northwestern 9-2.
Despite their statistically shaky first half, the Wildcats took less than five minutes of the second half to net the first goal of the game. Senior forward Matt Modorwell split the Nittany Lions defense at the top box and tucked the ball into the bottom right corner of the net with ease.
Penn State took little time to even the game up. Butts would follow shortly after with a rocket into the top right corner at the 28-minute mark of the second half after Northwestern’s defense struggled to get the ball out of the defensive zone.
Northwestern defenseman Jayson Cyrus played a big role in keeping the Wildcats within one goal throughout the second half. The Maryland native fended off multiple one-on-ones and deflected a number of balls headed towards the net.
His efforts would not be in vain, as Northwestern’s Mattias Tomasino would tie the game up at 2-2 with less than five minutes to go, ultimately sending the match into overtime.
With just three minutes left in the 10-minute overtime period, Butts ended the game with his second goal. This time, it came off a rebound.
“What I said to them, at the end of 90 minutes was ‘Look, we have to take responsibility,” Cook said. “We had a lot of chances that we didn’t finish and we let Northwestern back in the game. But at the end of the day, you get three points for winning the game.”
Penn State will next see action in a non-conference game against Pittsburgh on Tuesday at Jeffrey Field.
Nathan Pullen is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.