No. 4 Penn State boosted by late Connor Maloney goal to defeat Rutgers
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 4 Penn State won late against conference debutante Rutgers 1-0 Saturday night. Sophomore and Big Ten scoring leader Connor Maloney's 79th-minute goal gave the Nittany Lions the victory.
"I think we clicked offensively. I thought we were great," said head coach Bob Warming. "We got 22 shots and they weren't wild shots from 35 yards out so I don't know many college soccer teams that can play like we did tonight"
In a game that Penn State dominated from the start, where a Maloney rocket 10 seconds in caromed off the post, the Nittany Lions couldn't find the back of the net.
In the 79th minute, Drew Klingenberg forced a turnover in PSU's defensive half. The ball fell to Brian James who played a long ball over the top of the Rutgers defense as Maloney shielded an RU defender 30 yards from net.
Maloney drove into the penalty area and took a touch to his right to get around Rutgers goalkeeper David Greczek and shot into an empty net from 11 yards away. The assist was James's Big Ten-leading sixth helper of 2014.
"We had talked at halftime -- the goalkeeper comes out so early," Warming said. "So we said 'look just anticipate that he is going to slide early and just either chip him or take a touch around him and then you can walk it in.' And Connor decided to take the touch around him. Connor can play around a guy and still score."
Maloney's goal was his conference-leading eighth of the year and the fifth game-winning tally of the season as the Nittany Lions upped their unbeaten streak to 11 matches. The last Penn State team to go 11 matches without losing was in 1972 when the Lions started 9-0-2. The 10-0-1 start is the best in school history for 11 games.
"I saw the ball in flight, and coach has always said `be a beast at all times,'" Maloney said. "Regardless if you're small or not, I don't care, win the ball, do whatever it takes to get the ball' and I did. I got under [the defender], shoved him a little bit, got my chance in front of goal and I slid it home."
Rutgers recorded its first shot of the game in the 56th minute as a rocket from 20 yards out by JP Correa was punched away by Andrew Wolverton. Wolverton made two saves, both in the second half, to earn his eighth shutout of the year and his 31st career clean sheet.