Pasukinis' 1st half hat trick propels Hazleton to 5-1 playoff win

Ben Pasukinis fights to get past a defender.
Ben Pasukinis fights to get past a defender.

HAZLETON, Pa. - Freshman Ben Pasukinis (Benton, Pa.) recorded a hat trick in the first half to lead Penn State Hazleton to a comfortable 5-1 win over Penn State Wilkes-Barre in the quarterfinals of the Penn State University Athletic Conference men's soccer playoffs on Tuesday night at High Acres Field.

Third-seeded Hazleton (11-4, 7-2 PSUAC) advances to meet the two-seed, Penn State Beaver, on Thursday in the semifinals of the PSUAC tournament. 

Pasukinis started the scoring 20 minutes in, drilling a penalty kick after a Wilkes-Barre foul in the box. Eight minutes later Pasukinis got another chance at a penalty kick and found the back of the net for a 2-0 Hazleton lead. Junior Kyle Venditti (Berwick, Pa.) added a goal in the 30th minute off of a pass from Pasukinis to extend the Nittany Lion lead to 3-0, before Pasukinis scored his third goal of the half with just under a minute to go before intermission.

Hazleton's four goal cushion at halftime would hold, as the hosts controlled the ball for much of the second half. Venditti found the upper left corner from the top left corner of the penalty box to make it 5-0 with 33 minutes remaining. A late Hazleton foul in the penalty area led to Wilkes-Barre's only goal, as the four-goal lead at the half remained intact. 

Wilkes-Barre forced more corner kicks, 9-6, but couldn't capitalize as freshman Tyler Wyllie (Benton, Pa.) and sophomore Michael Principe (Jim Thorpe, Pa.) controlled the defense in front of sophomore goalkeeper Jimmy Fisher (Glen Allen, Va.). Fisher finished with 10 saves. Hazleton outshot their guests, 26-21, forcing Wilkes-Barre goalie Michael Hartman to make 12 saves.

NEXT UP: Hazleton travels to Green Valley Township Park in Rochester, Pa. where they will face Beaver on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. Beaver won the first meeting between the teams this season, scoring a 4-0 win at Hazleton on Sept. 20th. Number one seed Penn State Brandywine hosts fifth-seeded Penn State Greater Allegheny, who knocked off four-seed Penn State York, in the other semifinal. 

Check out or follow us on Twitter at @PSUHNAthletics for all the updates on Thursday's game. With heavy rains anticipated in the region through Wednesday, any rescheduling announcements will be made via those platforms.