York, Pa. - Penn State Hazleton pushed their win streak to four games on Friday with a 4-1 road victory against Penn State York, securing a Penn State University Athletic Conference playoff berth in the process. It took over 30 minutes of play for the Nittany Lions to get on the scoreboard, but once freshman Moussa Diouf (Carteret, Nj.) broke the ice, Hazleton poured the on the offense and refused to relinquish the lead to the home team.
Nearly two-thirds of the way through the opening period, neither squad was able to make any headway until Diouf found himself the recipient of a deflected ball in the opponent's box. Diouf secured the loose ball with a few dribbles mere feet in front of the York goal, tucking the ball around the keeper to break the stalemate. Not two minutes later, sophomore Ben Pasukinis (Benton, Pa.)settled a pass down the left flank of the field from senior Kyle Venditti (Berwick, Pa.) and drove the ball home past the keeper's right side capping a quick 2-0 flurry by the Lions.
Just as quickly as the Lions went up, York responded with a tally of their own, aided by a defensive miscue from the Lions. York made a run in the 34th minute of play and a desperate attempt to stop the advance resulted in a Nittany Lion foul in the box. York converted the ensuing penalty kick, cutting Hazleton's lead to 2-1 with 11 minutes to play in the first half. As the half's end drew near, Hazleton had one last good run in them, and once again it was Pasukinis supplying the offense. Junior Steven Principe (Jim Thorpe, Pa.) curled a long 40 yard pass to the streaking Pasukinis who headed the ball home for his second goal of the period, giving Hazleton a healthy 3-1 lead at the midway point.
The Lions were content to protect their two-score lead behind a strong outing from freshman keeper Brandon Yocum (Bloomsburg, Pa.) who was a perfect six for six in non-penalty kick shot attempts throughout the contest. The Lions lay and wait until their next scoring chance arose and in the 70th minute, Hazleton tacked on their fourth and final score. This time Diouf created space on the right side of the field and spotted Venditti on a run through the York box. The freshman lofted a crossing pass to his teammate who headed the ball inside the left post for the insurance goal. Facing a three score deficit, York was unable to mount a rally against the stout Hazleton defenders as the Lions killed the clock for the 4-1 win to remain in second position in the PSUAC.
Hazleton returns home for their final non-conference match of the season, coming against Williamson College of the Trades. Kick off scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 13 at Community Park.