HAZLETON, Pa. – Penn State Hazleton fell into an early hole and couldn't claw their way out as they fell to no. 7 Penn State Brandywine, 5-2, in a Penn State University Athletic Conference match at Community Park. The loss eliminates the Nittany Lions (9-5, 6-2 PSUAC) from an opportunity to earn the no. 1 seed in the PSUAC tournament.
The game between two of the top three teams in the PSUAC saw a flurry of scores in the first half as the teams combined for six goals in the first 45 minutes. The action settled down but Brandywine (12-1, 8-0 PSUAC) was able to hold off the no. 16 Lions in the second half, capitalizing on Hazleton's need to press forward late to punch in one final score during the 88th minute.
Senior Kyle Venditti (Berwick, Pa.) recorded two assists during his final regular season home game as a Nittany Lion while senior Shane Kitzmiller (Berwick, Pa.) played the entire 90 minutes in a solid defensive effort.
Hazleton was outshot 17-12 on the afternoon, and gave up 11 corners while earning only two of their own.
The scoring started early for Brandywine as Brandon Crochunis crossed from the left side to Brad Martino who beat a contesting keeper in freshman Brandon Yocum (Bloomsburg, Pa.) for a 1-0 lead for the visitors. The offense cooled down until the 25th minute as five goals would be scored in the next 13 minutes.
Brandywine grabbed a 2-0 lead as PSUAC scoring leader Bill Wallekendeh dribbled past a Hazleton defender and beat Yocum to the right post. It became 3-0 as Anthony Neufville came off the bench and scored a goal in the 30th minute. After subbing in only two minutes prior, Neufville took a shot from a tough angle along the left end line that skidded along the ground and snuck inside the right post.
Hazleton would get on the board four minutes later as Venditti took a direct kick and crossed it into the middle of the box where freshman Kaleab Tekleyohannes (Gaithersburg, Md.) headed it in to cut the deficit to 3-1. Brandywine would extend their lead back to three goals as Walleekendeh dribbled by two defenders and passed to Neufville who found the net for a 4-1 Brandywine lead.
Hazleton cut the deficit back to two goals as Venditti dribbled 80 yards down the field to the end line before crossing to sophomore Ben Pasukinis (Benton, Pa.) who controlled it before knocking it to a wide open net in the 38th minute. The final seven minutes would see no scores as Hazleton trailed 4-2 heading into halftime.
The teams went scoreless for nearly 43 minutes in the second half until Neufville dribbled up the left side and found teammate Brad Jule who controlled the ball and found the top half of the goal to give Brandywine a 5-2 lead. The final score would hold up as Hazleton's second half pressure was unable to yield a goal.
Brandywine outshot the Nittany Lions 7-4 in the second half, but their control of the ball was shown in corners, which the Lions led 8-1 in the final 45 minutes.
Penn State Hazleton hits the road for their final regular season contest as they travel to Penn State Mont Alto for a 3:00 p.m. PSUAC showdown. The Lions, who have already secured at least a home playoff game, look to secure the no. 3 seed in the PSUAC tournament.