The Penn State Abington Nittany Lions soccer team could have easily overlooked last night’s match against Lancaster Bible College and come out flat. Facing a down-on-their-luck Chargers squad and looking forward to their game against the only other undefeated North Eastern Atlantic Conference (NEAC) team, Cazenovia, all the pieces were in place for a possible upset. Fortunately for the men in white, that simply was not the case. After a tight first half that ended 1-1, Penn State Abington exploded for three goals in the second period en route to a 4-1 victory and the longest undefeated streak to start the season in school history.
After 20 minutes of probing and deft passing in the offensive third, it was Penn State Abington (7-0, 5-0 NEAC) who got on the board first in the game. With the ball along the left sideline, sophomore Alex Martins dribbled his way among the defenders and managed to send a high cross into the center of the penalty box. Senior Matt Howard was waiting on the other end, and rose high in the air to meet the ball. Howard sent the ball back across the goalmouth, just past the dive of senior Chargers keeper Tim Landis, and into the left side of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Chargers (1-7-2, 0-4-2 NEAC) would not go away easily, however. After a run that saw the Nittany Lions fire off four more shots in the span of a minute and a half, Lancaster Bible broke out of their own end with a long ball down the left sideline. Sophomore Miles Herron latched onto the ball deep in the offensive zone, and managed to send a cross into the penalty box. Freshman Bradley Wilcox was waiting above the near post, and sent a one-time volley on net. The ball hit a Nittany Lions defender and changed directions, past freshman goalkeeper James Carlin and into the left side of the net, knotting the game back at 1-1.
Ten minutes into the second half, Martins took a pass in the midfield and raced up the middle of the offensive zone. He broke through the middle of the Chargers defense and went in on Landis unopposed. Landis raced off his line and slid to try to collect the ball, but Martins deftly chipped it over the sliding keeper. Martins caught up to the ball on the right side of the goal box and sent an easy shot into the wide open net, giving the Nittany Lions the 2-1 lead.
Just eight minutes later, Penn State Abington would get its first insurance goal of the evening. After a turnover by the Chargers in their defensive zone, the ball landed at the feet of senior Joshua Clinger. Clinger was able to take several dribbles into the top right side of the box before sending a low shot on goal. The ball curled past Landis once again and into the left side of the netting, pushing the lead to 3-1.
Finally, six minutes later, the Nittany Lions closed the scorebook. This time, senior Julian Ward sent a corner kick into the box. It was Martins once again who was able to get on the other end of it, flicking the ball towards goal at the near post. Landis was able to get a mitt on the shot, but only managed to deflect the ball slightly as it traveled into the net. The goal was Martins' fourth of the season, putting him one off the team lead.
With the victory, the Nittany Lions move to 7-0 on the season and maintain their firm grip at the top of the NEAC conference. Even more impressively, Penn State Abington's victory makes this winning streak the longest undefeated start to a season in the program's history. The team looks to extend that streak even further as they hit the road for a New York weekend in the NEAC conference this Saturday against fellow conference-undefeated Cazenovia. The Wildcats sit at 3-0 in NEAC play, but only post a 4-5 record overall. Gametime is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday. Be sure to keep checking in on the Nittany Lions amazing run right here at abingtonsports.com.
Information courtesy of Penn State Abington Sports Information Director Jeff Dobbin