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Penn State Men's soccer wins Big Ten title in OT thriller
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The No. 13 Penn State men's soccer defeated No. 19 Northwestern, 2-1, Sunday afternoon in dramatic fashion to earn the program's fifth Big Ten championship. Jordan Tyler (Rochester, Mich.) scored the game-tying and game-winning goal in overtime for the Nittany Lions.
"Northwestern gave us everything we could handle," Head coach Bob Warming said. "I thought our guys responded well in the second half, even though (Northwestern) got the goal. How fun is this? It's a day our guys will never forget and I'm happy for them."
The match seemed destined for a 1-1 draw until the 109th minute when NU's Connor Holloway lost his footing at midfield and Connor Maloney (Harrisburg, Pa.) took the ball and rushed down field. Maloney drew a Wildcat defender at the top of the penalty area and passed a perfectly placed ball to Tyler who sent it into the back of the net for his fifth goal of the year and fourth game-winner.
The goal set off a wild celebration as Penn State (10-3-1, 5-0-0 Big Ten) celebrated its second straight Big Ten title and fifth overall. The victory clinched the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament for the second straight season as well as the Lions look to complete the perfect Big Ten season with a win next week at Ohio State, a feat only accomplished by once before in Penn State men's soccer history (2005).
In a nip-and-tuck game, the Northwestern (8-4-3, 1-1-1 Big Ten) struck first in the 60th minute on a goal from super striker Joey Calistri. Cole Missimo went streaking down the left flank toward the end line and touched a ground pass to Calistri on the near post. The crafty sophomore and the Big Ten's leading scorer back heeled a clever shot into the far right side of the goal for the lead.
Penn State went into desperation mode and pressed numbers forward. It took to the eighth shot of the half to capitalize in the waning minutes as Drew Klingenberg (Gibsonia, Pa.), last week's Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, beat his defender on the left wing. He chipped a cross to Tyler whose initial header looked to be going wide but struck the back of a Northwestern defender and went into the goal with 1:47 remaining in the second half.
The Nittany Lions avoided an early setback when NU's Lepe Seeante ripped a shot across frame in the 36th minute that required a sprawling save from two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Andrew Wolverton (Atlanta, Ga.). The two teams finished the opening half knotted at one.
The victory cemented Penn State's record at 8-1-1 in the past nine matches, which includes a tie over No. 5 California and wins over No. 14 Michigan State and No. 19 Northwestern. Penn State improved to 7-1-1 at home as Wolverton and defenders Akil Howard (Queens, N.Y.), Martin Seiler (Stuttgart, Germany), Mike Robinson (Lansdale, Pa.) and Randy Falk (Tewksburg Township, Pa.) have allowed just six goals in 961 minutes at Jeffrey Field.
Following the match, seniors Micah Collins (Glen Rock, Pa.), Grant Warming (Omaha, Neb.), Seiler and Howard were honored for their years of dedication to the Penn State program.
Penn State improved to 23-5-3 all-time against the Wildcats with the second-straight win in the series coming in overtime fashion. Penn State has won five Big Ten championships and four of them have come since 2002.
The Nittany Lions have a short turnaround as they take on Penn in Philadelphia on Tuesday at 7 p.m.