Men’s soccer survives Penn State, wins in OT

In their first home game in almost two weeks, Terps came back to College Park to play their third Big Ten match of the season. The fourth seeded Terps defeated Penn State 3-2 in a wild overtime finish after Maryland’s only non-penalty kick goal of the match.

This game was a tale of two halves; no goals in the first then four in the second.

Maryland was the more aggressive team in the first half, getting three shots off with two very close attempts from Sophomore Forward Gordon Wild. Adding to the offensive was an off target header right in the box by Alex Crongale.

The only offense Penn State displayed in the first half was when one of their forwards would take it upon himself to dribble through the Maryland defense, which was quickly dealt with.

Maryland must have felt frustrated with their play in the first half after they generated so many chances but only had 4 shots and 3 corner kicks to show for it. These chances included a corner kick that landed the ball inches from the Penn State goalie but Forward Alex Crognale again could not finish as he kicked it into another Maryland player who was inside the crowded goalie box.

The second half started off sluggish for the Nittany Lions, not just in how they played, but in the manner they took the field. Before the second half even started, Maryland was lined up and ready to go on the field before most of the Penn State team even took the field from their locker room.

The second half itself started even before their Head Coach Bob Warming even came to Penn State’s sideline.

Maryland took advantage of this sluggishness however, as Defensemen Donovan Pines rattled off a header that banged off the top crossbar on a corner kick within the first five minutes of the half.

Then, Penn State awakened.

After the solid defense the Terps had played the whole game, Penn State Forward Dayonn Harris managed to slip behind the Maryland defense while the Nittany Lions were possessing the ball in their own end of the field.  This turned into a breakaway goal for the Sophomore to put the team from State College up 1-0 at the 56:45 mark.

Maryland responded to this with an even larger barrage of shots. Jake Rozhansky fired the first actual shot on goal for the Terps, forcing Penn State Freshman Goalie Arie Ammann to make his first save of the game.

This save turned into two more Maryland corners which still resulted in zero goals for home team.

Finally the Maryland effort paid off as another offensive attack allowed Terps to draw a foul inside the box for a penalty kick. Amar Sejdic took the honors and gave the home team what they were looking for in the 70th minute as the game was tied again 1-1 with the Terps regaining momentum.

The heat of the match must have gotten to the Terrapins. After yet another offensive attack from Maryland that ended in a goal kick, Ammann did a simple clearance which, through a series of passes, ended up in the feet of Dayonn Harris. Harris completely blew past two Maryland defenders and Goalie Cody Niedermeier for a simple tap in shot to make it 2-1 Penn State.

The Terps would again fight back with their offensive attack as a huge long ball from the Terrapin defense up to forward DJ Reeves, who had the Penn State Defense beat, resulted in him being tripped up by accidental contact inside the box. This resulted in another penalty goal. Gordon Wild would be the one to equalize the game again with less than six minutes to go in a 2-2 game.

Responsible for leveling the scoreboard, Wild commented on how his team always seems to need to come back after falling behind first, “That’s something we have to figure out, that’s something we have to improve on. We can’t always give up a goal and then we always have to fight back, that’s happened to many times now.”

Ninety minutes of soccer was not enough to determine the winner of these two foes however, and the game headed into overtime even though the Terps had outshot the Nittany Lions 13-2 and Penn State had not registered a corner kick the whole game.

The most important matter in the game was the two unassisted goals for Penn State and the two penalty kicks for the Terps. The next goal for either team would win the match.

For the first minutes of overtime it was back and forth, but finally the Terps broke through for a final push as DJ Reeves put on some nifty moves and slid by the Penn State defenders before he put an ground cross to Gordon Wild, who buried it in the back of the net for a 3-2 overtime victory.

After Wild’s goal, Head Coach Sasho Cirovski commented on his team’s performance, “I am extremely happy and relieved to come out with a victory… DJ was the difference in the game tonight, his work ethic and his speed led to that second penalty and I thought he was outstanding today.”

Sasho also commented on his team’s rather slow start to the game, “The nature of the college soccer season is incredibly harmful to the student-athlete welfare and wellbeing, it is difficult to watch two teams play at about 65 percent energy because of the compressed calendar.”

Indeed the calendar has been compressed as the Terps have been playing a game almost every three days since the season started.  Coach Sasho continued, “This is why I am so passionate about changing the schedule because you saw players getting hurt … and then the overall quality of the game was slower, a more methodical pace because this is the fourth week in a row we’ve played three games in a week.”

Despite this lack of energy, the Terps improved to 5-0-2 on the season with a few days rest before their next game against Michigan State on Friday, September 23 as they look to stay undefeated on the season and in Big Ten play. Penn State falls to 3-3-1 with their next game coming at home against Wisconsin, also on September 23.

Photo by Lauren Anikis.

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