Men's soccer: Orange rallies to beat Penn State, advances to third round

Two second-half tallies help SU overcome rare goalkeeping mistake.

Battling a one-goal deficit early in the second half, No. 4 Syracuse rallied back to defeat Penn State, 2-1, in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship at SU Soccer Stadium on Sunday.

“To come back from behind and win shows a lot of character,” Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre said. “I’m very, very proud of this group.”

The Orange (16-3-1) controlled the first half, keeping the ball in possession enough to fire eight shots while holding the Nittany Lions (13-6-1) to just one.

However, the tension quickly rose in the second half when goalkeeper Alex Bono muffed a pass to Tyler Hilliard fifteen minutes into the period.

The ball was flung too short and Hilliard roughed with Penn State’s Connor Maloney to get possession, resulting in a yellow card for the SU defender. Maloney then uncorked a penalty kick that rushed passed Bono to put the Lions ahead 1-0.

“I was gonna roll it out to (Hilliard) and I had a hold-up at the last second,” Bono said. “I couldn’t hold it up and it was a terrible mistake by me.

“It pains me thinking that I could have ruined all our seniors’ chances to go the sweet sixteen. I give credit to the guys. They fought back and saved me.”

The SU offense responded to the one-goal deficit with a composed sense of urgency. It attacked the net, firing 11 total shots the second half.

It was only a matter of time before Oyvind Alseth found Emil Ekblom, who nailed a shot past Penn State goalie Andrew Wolverton to tie the game with 28:30 remaining. Wolverton recorded a season-high eight saves in the contest.

Wolverton could have tallied nine, but SU senior Jordan Murrell found Alseth deep in the right corner with about seven minutes remaining. Alseth blasted a shot into the massive hands of the six-foot-six-inch Lions goalie.

But there was a pause before officials noticed that Wolverton was just inside the goal line. Just like that, Alseth had scored the game-winner.

“I tried to cross it and it snuck in,” Alseth said. “I got lucky.”

The moment the goal was ruled valid, nine Orange jerseys streaked across the field, swarming Alseth with chest bumps and hugs. 

“I couldn’t really see [the ball] because the post was in the way, but I saw that there was a possibility it could’ve gone in,” Alseth said. “I looked over at the linesman and I saw him put his flag up. Having my teammates run over was a great feeling.”

Syracuse will take on long-time Big East rival and eighth-seeded Georgetown in the third round of the tournament on Sunday, Nov. 30.

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