Nov. 2, 2006
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Penn State men’s soccer team (7-10-2) came from behind to claim a 2-1 double overtime victory over Northwestern (11-7-0) in a first round match-up at the 2006 Big Ten Men’s Soccer Championship on Thursday afternoon in Columbus, Ohio.
Simon Omekanda (Rochester Hills, Mich.) tallied the game winner, scoring his fifth goal of the season in the 103rd minute. Leading a Penn State rush, Omekanda was the recipient of precision passes from Stephen Reihner (Washington, Pa.) and Andy Machi (Upper St. Clair, Pa.). From eight yards, he skipped a shot past Northwestern goalkeeper Justin Pines, propelling the Lions into the semifinal round of championship play.
“It was a tough, typical Big Ten game,” said 19-year Penn State head coach Barry Gorman. “In reality, it’s a shame that anyone had to lose. Our kids hung in there for a long time, and given our injuries, I think it’s a credit to them.”
With the victory, Penn State advances to face archrival Indiana, the championship’s No. 1 seed, on Fri, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hoosiers, 1-0, in University Park on Oct. 20 in front of a live national television audience, their third straight win in the series.
Northwestern jumped on top in the 25th minute, staking a 1-0 lead it would hold for much of the game. Senior forward Brad North, with an assist from freshman Mark Blades, notched his seventh goal the season, finding net from eight yards out straight on.
Penn State would have its chances in the first half, outshooting Northwestern 8-4, but could not capitalize. The Lions best opportunity came in the 37th minute when sophomore Ryan Badaracco (Wexler, Pa.) served a long pass to a streaking Omekanda, but the Northwestern keeper came out and took the ball off of his foot.
Down 1-0, the Nittany Lions increasingly ramped up the offensive pressure as the second half unfolded. Their perseverance paid off late in the game, as Penn State was able to knot the game at 1-1 in the 82nd minute. From the left wing, David Gray (Lemont, Pa.) sent a pass into the NU box to an awaiting Ryan Badaracco. The sophomore walled off two defenders and fired in the equalizer from close up. The goal was the first of Badaracco’s career. After allowing the early score, junior goalkeeper Conrad Taylor (Colorado Springs, Colo.) rebounded strongly to keep Penn State in the game with five crucial saves, none bigger than the one he recorded in the first overtime. In the 105th minute, Northwestern’s David Roth crossed a pass to Gerardo Alvarez, who, from eight yards away, got off a twisting shot. Taylor went one way and the shot went the other, but he recovered enough to kick it away with a diving stab.
For more information on Nittany Lion men’s soccer, visit the official website of Penn State athletics at www.GoPSUsports.com.
Penn State Game Notes
With his assist on Simon Omekanda’s game winning goal, StephenReihner tied Omekanda for tops on the team with four. Andy Machitallied the first point of his Penn State career when he assistedon Omekanda’s golden goal. Penn State is now 6-0-0 this season whenscoring two or more goals Penn State upped its record to 2-6-1 ingames when trailing at halftime and 1-1-2 in overtime games. TheNittany Lions not only battled a tough opponent but also gusting,frigid winds and, early on, blinding sunshine. Simon Omekanda’sgame winner was his team-high third of the season. David Gray’sassist on Ryan Badaracco’s equalizing goal was his first of theseason and third of his career.