In a battle of two of the top teams in the Big Ten this season, No. 17 Maryland men’s soccer and No. 16 Penn State entered the match’s first overtime period locked at two goals a piece.
Nittany Lion midfielder Nicholas Rieple tracked into the corner of the field and played the ball into the Terp box. The sophomore headed the ball into the air before dropping to forward Christian Sload, who rifled it off his right boot off the top crossbar past freshman keeper Niklas Neumann to hand Maryland a 3-2 loss in the 99th minute, extinguishing its shot at a Big Ten regular season title.
Maryland took an early two goal lead over Penn State, but after letting the Nittany Lion attack have its way, it found itself in dangerous territory.
Penn State rallied back to tie the game up in the 55th minute, as the first career goal from freshman midfielder Kyle May connected from 18 yards out to knot the score at 2-2.
Midfielder Aaron Molloy whipped the ball into the box, where it pin-balled around before falling to freshman midfielder Kyle May, who managed to sneak the ball through a sea of Terp defenders before finding twine to tie the score at 2-2.
Early on though, Maryland was it on control, trotting out the same starting eleven for the third consecutive match and jumping on the Nittany Lions almost instantly.
In just the 10th minute of play, senior midfielder Eli Crognale hit a one-timer off his right foot that would bend just past the outstretched hand of Penn State keeper Kris Shakes and into the corner of the goal to put Maryland up 1-0.
The goal came as a result of textbook build-up play between Maryland’s wings and midfielders, as a series of well-timed passes between sophomore forward Justin Gielen and freshman midfielder Malcolm Johnston gave Crognale all the room he needed to give the Terps an early lead.
Maryland didn’t take its foot off the gas pedal following Crognale’s 10th minute wonder strike. Coming off of another ball played in from the wing, Crognale would settle it and go for goal once again. But his second shot of the game was deflected, sputtering in front of the net before finding the foot of Justin Gielen, who took a touch to send it past Shakes and put the Terps up 2-0 after only 12 minutes of play.
But the Nittany Lions refused to be discouraged by Maryland’s early success, as senior forward Aaron Molloy willed the Penn State attack toward cutting its deficit in half.
Though junior defender Matt Di Rosa managed to save a goal at the last moment in the 21st minute, junior Penn State defender Brandon Hackenberg ended Maryland’s 340 minute opponent scoreless streak with a headed effort off a perfectly placed set-piece by Molloy, cutting Maryland’s lead to 2-1.
The Nittany Lions went on to out-shoot the Terps 9-2 after 45 minutes of play, drawing five corners as well while holding Maryland, who ranks 7th in Division I in corner kicks per game, to zero in the first half.
The offensive onslaught by the Lions continued into the second half, as Penn State eclipsed 10 shots in just the 50th minute of play and then had the equalizer in the 55th.
But despite both sides jockeying for a go-ahead goal over the subsequent 40 minutes of action, neither managed a third goal in regulation, forcing overtime.
Both sides would continue to go back-and-forth as the overtime period wore on, but it would uli
Three Things to Know
1. Malcolm Johnston was forced to leave the match early. While Maryland has been able to avoid the injury bug that has plagued them all season as of late, the Terps saw it bite once again in the form of a Malcolm Johnston injury in the 22nd minute.
A starter for the Terps for most of this season, Johnston’s departure forced freshmen Jacob Chakroun and Justin Harris onto the pitch despite seeing limited playing time as of late.
2. Inexperience killed the Terps in crucial moments tonight. Though head coach Sasho Cirovski has managed to get quality play out of more than a few freshmen this season, the inexperience showed through at critical times on Tuesday night.
In the 28th minute, freshmen forward Justin Harris misplayed a break on goal, costing Maryland a golden chance at its third goal of the evening, while Molloy managed to bait freshman defender Chris Rindov into a foul to set up the set-piece that would tie the game in the 55th minute.
3. Niklas Neumann played one of the best games of his young career. The reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of Week looked every bit of the part. Although it’s the most goals he’s allowed in a match since Sept. 2 against Virginia, Neumann made more than a few impressive saves — ending with seven — to keep his side in it until the end.