Wednesday, February 28, 2024

MSU advances to Big Ten Tournament semifinals with 2-1 win over Penn State

November 6, 2016
The Spartans celebrate a goal on Nov. 6, 2016 in DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Nittany Lions, 2-1.
The Spartans celebrate a goal on Nov. 6, 2016 in DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Nittany Lions, 2-1. —
Photo by Emilia McConnell | The State News

The MSU men's soccer team had the higher number in the standings, but Penn State had the number of MSU prior to Sunday's Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal game. On Sunday, the Spartans' first-ever home Big Ten Tournament game gave MSU 2-1 retribution for an earlier loss to the Nittany Lions in the season. 

MSU began the game on the front foot, just seven minutes into the game nearly snatching an advantage. Senior fullback Dewey Lewis had a long throw that bounced through the box and onto the head of junior attacking midfielder Ken Krolicki. Krolicki's strong header made its way into the top left corner before Penn State goalkeeper Evan Finney sprang across goal and scraped away the attempt away from danger. 

The wait wasn't long for MSU, however. Senior winger Andrew Herr played an incisive ball to Ryan Sierakowski, who had found space in the attacking box, and Sierakowski turned towards goal. The sophomore attacker thundered a shot onto goal, but Finney again denied entry, although his block didn't clear the ball.

After a hectic scramble inside the area, Krolicki squirted a ball backward to freshman Giuseppe Barone, who had space and time. With the right side of his right cleat, Barone hit the ball on first contact and the strike hovered just into the bottom left corner. Behind the barricade of defenders, Finney was late seeing the strike and MSU took a 1-0 advantage. 

MSU was the aggressor for much of the rest of the first half, with Krolicki again just wide on a header. Yet, Penn State had the solution on a rare attack. 

As Penn State was surging forward, Krolicki took down Penn State leading scorer Connor Maloney with a swinging arm. Maloney got his revenge on the free kick, when from straight away and 28 yards out, he sank his shot into the bottom left corner.

After 41 minutes and into halftime, the game remained level, despite MSU enjoying a 6-3 lead in shots.

In the second period, MSU again was in control but out of a goal until late.

In the 48th and 69th minute respectively, Sierakowski and Krolicki both headed efforts goalwards but did not find the back of the net. Krolicki again elicited a swat from Finney, and Sierakowski's attempt skidded just wide. 

Sierakowski was tenacious, though, trying in the 64th minute an angled move forward only again to have his shot turned out at the near post by Finney. 

Then in the 75th minute, Sierakowski retrieved a cleared ball at the top of the box and turned. Under the grave duress of three Penn State defenders, MSU's leading goal scorer back-pedaled and fired in audacious fashion. Despite the level of difficulty, the shot was well weighted and targeted, eddying into the near post and past the fingernails of Finney. 

Again on the wrong side of luck, however, Sierakowski saw his shot careen away from the goal. His misfortune was Jimmy Fiscus' treasure, however, as the junior defender dove and headed the ball into the gaping net from point-blank range.

With just one shot in the second half, Penn State was unable to gear into an offensive plan, and MSU took the game 2-1. 

Fiscus' first goal of the season means MSU will play Maryland in the Big Ten semifinals on Nov. 11.

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