Penn State upends Ohio State
Smallwood’s goal lifts Nittany Lions to second round
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Seventh-seeded Penn State ousted No. 2 seed Ohio State (10-7-2) from the Big Ten tournament with a 2-0 opening-round victory on Wednesday.
Freshman goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton made history in the process, claiming his 11th shutout of the season, breaking the Penn State record of 10 previously shared by Angelo Nickas (1980), Whit Gibson (1998), and Conrad Taylor (2005).
|Other Big Ten Results|
|No. 3 Wisconsin 2, No. 6 Michigan 0|
|No. 4 Indiana 2, No. 5 Michigan State 1|
|• Conference Championship Central|
With the win, Penn State (8-8-4) advances to play the winner of the final first-round match-up between No. 3 seed Wisconsin and No. 6 seed Michigan.
Penn State came out sharp and was dangerous throughout the first half, continually pressuring the Ohio State back line and testing Buckeyes goalkeeper Matt Lampson. Scoring chances came from the outset for the Nittany Lions with senior Mackenzie Arment and junior Julian Cardona earning excellent looks just minutes into the game. Cardona initiated another opportunity less than two minutes later but this time he almost got an assist from an Ohio State player, as his crossing pass went off the heel of Buckeye defender David Tiemstra and skipped just wide of goal.
In the ninth minute, Penn State broke through, gaining its first first-half lead since Oct. 4. With the ball on the near wing, Cardona took it to the end line before crossing a pass that skipped through the defense and found the foot of senior defender Matt Smallwood. After an initial touch, the ball bounced back to Smallwood, who then tapped it in past a prone Lampson.
The Nittany Lions kept the pressure on throughout the remainder of the half and nearly stretched the lead by converting on other scoring chances. One minute after Smallwood netted his first goal of the season, junior midfielder Jacob Barron unleashed a blast from the top of the box that just skipped high of the crossbar.
In the 14th minute, Cardona was at it again, rocketing a crossing pass through the six-yard box again from near the end line to the far post, this time targeting junior midfielder Minh Vu. Facing an open goal, Vu couldn't get his foot on it before Lampson was able to scramble to get in position and corral the ball.
Just over two minutes into the second half, Penn State was able to up its lead to 2-0. With the ball on his foot, Mackenzie Arment had a clear run on goal but was taken down deep in the box by Ohio State's Omar Vallejo, earning a penalty kick. Cardona took it, burying it low in the left corner of the goal, just past the diving Lampson.
Ohio State outshot Penn State, 6-4, in the second half but never really threatened in chip away at the Nittany Lion lead.
With the victory, Penn State moves to 5-2 versus Ohio State and 27-14-4 all-time in Big Ten Tournament play, including a sterling 17-3-1 mark in first round contests.