Late break costs Wisconsin in 1-0 defeat to Penn State

first_imgSenior defender Kyle McCrudden said Wisconsin goalkeeper Chase Rau kept the Nittany Lions from running away with Friday’s game.[/media-credit]The Badgers were in a bend-but-don’t-break position throughout the majority of their Big Ten opener against Penn State Friday. Defenders halted whizzing shots as goalie Chase Rau covered the net with big saves. For 81 minutes, they bent and bent, doing their best imitation of a yoga instructor. And in the 82nd minute, they finally broke.Following a Badger defensive miscue, Nittany Lion forward Kelton Cheney made the most of assists from Drew Klingenberg and Hasani Sinclair and netted his second goal of the season, propelling Penn State (6-1-1) to a 1-0 victory. The freshman had a clean look at the goal from just eight yards out and finished the play, and essentially the game, with just eight minutes remaining.The goal and loss will likely stick in the minds of the Badgers for a long time because it could have been avoided. A mis-touch on an outlet pass by the freshman Rau gave Penn State possession with just two Wisconsin players defending.Klingenberg broke in front of Rau’s outlet for the possession, finding Sinclair up the sideline. Sinclair neared the goal and fit a tight cross over to Cheney for the only score. With the Badgers’ offense rarely getting scoring chances throughout the match, the final eight minutes flew by uneventfully.Rau’s pass that led to the Penn State goal was a bit weak to reach his fellow defender, putting himself and Wisconsin in a situation it couldn’t bend its way out of. Head coach John Trask wasn’t pleased with the decision Rau made, but acknowledged there is still a learning curve for the freshman starter.“[The goal] was unfortunate, but those are lessons learned by a freshman goalkeeper,” Trask said. “It was a ball that even if you squeeze it in, the risk or reward probably isn’t worthwhile in that moment of the game.”Despite his late blunder, Rau may have played his best game as a Badger. His six saves were a career high, many of them occurring with Rau leaving his feet. He likely would have had a few more if it weren’t for Badger defenders constantly pushing aside tries from the relentless Nittany Lion offense.The late-game loss was a heartbreaker for the Badgers (2-3-3), and more specifically for the goalie who made a crucial mistake in his first Big Ten match. His elder defenders realized this, but also noted without Rau in goal, the game could have been an easy win for the Nittany Lions.“I think that Chase played a great game,” senior Kyle McCrudden said. “I think there could have been two or three more goals for [Penn State]. He just has to keep on playing well and keep making great saves.”Penn State put the Wisconsin defense in a difficult position from the beginning of the match. The Nittany Lions controlled the possession for a majority of the first half and the final 20 minutes, making a third consecutive shutout a tall order from the get-go.Penn State tallied 23 shots in total, seven of them on goal, trumping Wisconsin’s nine shots and just one on goal. While the offense sputtered to amount any consistent possession, Wisconsin defenders said they are not worried it’s a sign of things to come.“[The lack of possession] is not too much of a concern. Obviously, we want to dictate the tempo of play, but Penn State came flying at us,” defender Paul Yonga said. “This game was maybe a little more concerning, but in other games we’ll be able to dictate the tempo.”The Badger defense handled the lack of possession well throughout, even dabbling on the offensive end when duty called. Wisconsin’s best scoring opportunity may have come when midfielder Anders Kristensen launched in a corner kick that defender AJ Cochran headed toward Yonga, whose prevailing header went wide.The loss quickly sets the Badgers behind in the Big Ten title hunt. Northwestern won the conference last year with an undefeated record, so responding to a season-opening loss will be extremely important for the Badgers to stay in the race for a conference crown. “We have to get over [this loss] quickly,” Yonga said. “We just have to keep improving and work on the small things. We still have five games left in the Big Ten season, so we can definitely turn it around. It’s a long season.”So far, it has already been a long season for the Badgers at home. Wisconsin is 0-2-1 at the McClimon Soccer Complex. They hosted the “Pac the Mac” event Friday, which saw over 1,000 fans come out in support. The only thing that didn’t arrive was a Wisconsin victory, and the players clearly realized it. “It was nice to see how many people came out for the game,” McCrudden said. “We didn’t get a win tonight, but hopefully they’ll keep coming out and we can get them a win next time.”Follow Sean on Twitterlast_img read more

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