By Jack Parry
With a late free kick opportunity just minutes into overtime, Andrew Privett received a short pass and fired towards the Maryland wall of defenders. His shot deflected off of a Terp and found the far side of the net, completing the Nittany Lions comeback.
The late days of October ended up gifting Happy Valley, Pennsylvania with bouts of pouring rain to start the night, the perfect setting for a high stakes college soccer showdown.
In a back and forth game, the Terps put two past the Nittany Lions early, but a dominant second half and overtime performance from Penn State sealed the deal, as Maryland lost 3-2.
The game started with a few bouts of possession and some ideal defense by both sides, but the Terrapins were aggressive early. So when the chance came to them, the 7th ranked team in the country had to pull something out of the top drawer.
The play started with Redshirt freshman forward Joshua Bolma making a run down the left sideline and receiving a pass into the box. Bolma proceeded to slip a bit, then play a pass to just inside the box to fellow Freshman Caden Stafford. Stafford let the ball go between his legs, letting it roll just outside the box to stand-out Sophomore midfielder Ben Bender who with the outside of his left boot clocked a laser into the back of the net.
The goal gives Bender the most goals on the team and in the Big Ten, while also giving the Terps a 1-0 lead away from home in the 12th minute.
As the game pushed forward, Penn State attempted to battle back. However, as the first half continued the Maryland defense continued to hold strong. A shot by Alex Stevenson looked destined for the top shelf in the 25th, but Freshman defender William Kulvik blocked the shot with a header, continuing his great first half. One minute later, Pierre Reedy hit a low ball at the far corner, but Terp keeper Niklas Neumann came up with a brilliant double save, as Maryland’s backline stayed strong.
The Maryland defense gave the offense some time to pick their spots as the half continued. With this patience came another impeccable goal from the Terps, and this time Stafford did the dirty work.
Some brilliant pressing by the Freshman forward in the 31st minute gave Stafford the ball with just a defender to beat. He continued to cut back between his right and left foot two times, sending Nittany Lion defender Brendan Hackenberg sliding away. Then, Stafford slotted the ball right between the legs of keeper Kris Shakes, as it rolled just over the line, handing Maryland a 2-0 first half lead.
A true chance for the Nittany Lions came late in the first half, and it all started with a blocked shot. After a deflection from a few chances, the ball fell directly to the feet of Peter Mangione in the center of the box. Despite two players and Niklas Neumann standing in front of the ball, Mangione took it on his right and obliterated the ball into the top left corner of the goal. After a plethora of chances, the Terps’ shell finally cracked in the 40th minute, as the Nittany lions cut the lead to 2-1 right before halftime.
Coming out of the break, Maryland looked to probe the Penn State defense, as Bender had a quick chance on goal in the 52nd minute. However, Bender shot a line drive on the ground straight at Kris Shakes.
With the second half continuing, there wasn’t a lot of action until a brilliant chance created by Penn State. A cutback pass after a transition ended up with the ball rolling toward Seth Kuhn outside the top of the box with everyone standing and looking. Kuhn pummeled the ball goalside and plunked the middle of the crossbar, giving the Terps a scare in the 60th minute.
The Nittany Lions kept threatening an equalizer in the second half, as the ball fell to Liam Butts in transition in the 65th giving him a one on one with the keeper. Neumann put up his hands and got the save, as the Terps couldn’t seem to get out of their own third of the pitch.
Then mere minutes later, a miracle saved the Terps from a tied game. A chance from the Nittany Lions for a sure goal was blocked by Mangione.
After constant pressure throughout the whole second half, Penn State finally broke through.
Driving down the left half of the field, Mangione redeemed himself with a beautiful cross into the box in the 72nd. Peter Kuhn was there to tap it home into the far right corner, as the Nittany Lions tied the game 2-2 to finally reward them for a dominant second half performance.
The last ten minutes were played almost entirely in the middle third of the field, as no one was able to find a score to give them the advantage. Thus, the game was sent into overtime.
Overtime didn’t last long, as a free kick from just outside of the box finished the game, with the Nittany Lions finishing the upset. Privett was given the ball off of a dummy pass from the free kick spot, when he smashed it with his right. The ball sailed low, and took a Terp deflection that guided the ball on the ground into the bottom left corner, far away from the dumbfounded keeper Niklas Neumann.
The golden goal gave Penn State the 3-2 win in the 94th, knocking off the 7th ranked team in the nation.
Maryland will look to bounce back and obtain the 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament on Sunday October 31st at Ludwig Field. They will take on No.22 Indiana Hoosiers on Senior Day in their last game of the regular season.