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Penn State Men's Soccer Advances to Big Ten Semifinals

by on November 10, 2019 4:38 PM

No. 13 Penn State men’s soccer (12-2-3) defeated Wisconsin,  3-0 , in the Big Ten quarterfinals Sunday at Jeffrey Field. Second half goals from striking duo Christian Sload and Liam Butts, along with a late Josh Dabora strike eliminated the Badgers.

How It Happened

It took a listless 20 minutes of the first half for a goal scoring opportunity. Penn State’s freshman striker Butts was played into the box, however Dean Cowdroy’s save was palmed back off of Butts. Fortunately for the Badgers, the deflection went over the bar.

While neither team had many chances in the beginning of the match, Wisconsin seemed the outmatched side. The Badgers had trouble connecting more than a few passes, and all forward momentum was continuously broken up by the Penn State midfield.

Seth Kuhn played a splitting ball to Sload with 10 minutes left in the half. The senior beat his man and rocketed the ball, only to find the crossbar. Just one minute later a long range volley from captain Aaron Molloy almost fooled Cowdroy, but the effort went just wide.

The second half started much like the languid first half ended. The Badgers finally had a chance with 38 minutes left. Andrew Akindele had a chance to go one on one with Kris Shakes, but his shot couldn’t find the target.

Sload and Butts returned to the match after sitting for much of the first half. It took them only four minutes to flex their muscles. Butts took on his defender on the left side of the 18 yard box, and drove in a low cross for Sload to tap in with ease. Sload’s goal was his third straight game with a score after a dry spell throughout the middle of the season.

The Nittany Lions capitalized on the momentum in the 62nd minute. Seth Kuhn played a cross right on to the head of Butts to double the lead. Butts’ score was his ninth of the season, eclipsing Molloy for the team lead.

An invigorated Butts nearly forced a turnover from Cowdroy. Despite the goalkeeper taking his time with the ball, he avoided getting caught in possession.

The final nail in the coffin for the Badgers came with six minutes left in the match. Kuhn played the ball into the box with two Nittany Lions in range. Privett flicked on to Dabora, who was wide open for his second goal of the year. The Kentfield, California native’s composed finish sealed the rout for Penn State.

As soon as Sload opened the scoring, it was clear that there would only be one winner. However, the 3-0 scoreline does bode well for the Nittany Lions’ top 16 hopes. With Wisconsin’s 3-11-4 record, the NCAA voting committee won’t consider them for the tournament, therefore effectively ending the Badgers season.

Player of the Match

Liam Butts | Freshman | Striker

The freshman continued his sizzling hot play, scoring and assisting in his postseason curtain raiser. His ninth tally of the season was his eighth in the past ten games.

Butts’ partnership with Sload is proving to be one of the most formidable in the nation, especially with star midfielder Molloy providing the pair.

What’s Next?

Penn State will advance to the Big Ten semifinals where it will face the winner of the Michigan versus Michigan State matchup. The semifinal will be played on Friday in College Park, Md.

Otis Lyons is a Penn State student and writer for Onward State.
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