ERIE, Pa. – The top-seeded Penn State Behrend men's soccer team defeated Penn State Harrisburg 3-1 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) tournament on Saturday afternoon.
Nearly the coldest Erie weather this year could not stop the Lions (16-4-1) from advancing to the ECAC second round. Behrend was able to fend off 17 Lion (11-9) shots and three corner kicks to secure the win in the first-ever matchup between the two.
Seconds after being subbed into the match, freshman Richard Blanchard (Erie, PA/Cathedral Prep) and sophomore Nick Kisiel (Erie, PA/Mercyhurst Prep) combined with each other to find the first goal of the contest. Kisiel gathered just inside the opponent's side of the field and played a chip through-ball to Blanchard. With a defender on his hip, Blanchard took a few touches and released a shot near-post to give the Lions a lead 28 minutes in.
Both teams fought for the rest of the half. Despite 11 total shots, and five saves between both goalies, neither team was able to find the back of the net.
Penn State Harrisburg quickly put themselves on the scoreboard in the second half however. Dustin Rohrbach tallied his first goal of the season just one minute and a half into the half to tie the score at one.
The Lions would bounce back to take the lead once again seven minutes later. Just before the 53rd minute, Matt Dziadosz (Leechburg, PA/Kiski Area) rifled a left-footed shot on net forcing goalkeeper Joshua Myers to make a diving save, resulting in a Behrend corner kick. The short corner was tapped to Aaron Harris (Washington, PA/McGuffey) who found defender Ryan Maurer (Cranberry Twp, PA/Seneca Valley) on the opposite side of the field. Maurer roped a shot from 30 yards out that went just under the hand of goalkeeper Joshua Myers to give Behrend a lead they would not relinquish, notching his first career game-winner.
Dziadosz added to his team-leading points, scoring his 10th goal to give him 31 points so far this season. Dakota Lange (Apollo, PA/Kiski Area) won the ball near midfield, and carried the ball down the sideline on a full sprint. Once he arrived at the 18-yard box, he crossed the ball to Dziadosz for a diving header goal in the 66th minute.
Penn State Harrisburg looked to cut the lead, but were unable to beat the Lions' defense, backed by goalie Chris Ralph (Murrysville, PA/Franklin Regional) who made six saves.
Behrend is looking for redemption when they face off against No. 2 Grove City tomorrow at noon in the ECAC Quarterfinals.