Army stunned in Patriot League opener: Grad scores overtime winner for men’s soccer

Doug Hendry, Sports Editor

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In a shocking comeback by the men’s soccer team, Jonathan Grad ’15 headed in a cross from Chris Thorsheim ’16 just 2:14 into overtime to complete the 2-1 victory at Army in the Bison’s first conference game of the season on Sept. 27.

“I just tried to break away from the man marking me and make a play on the ball, and Chris served a great ball,” Grad said.

Always a tough matchup, the first half started slowly between the Bison and Black Knights, but there were plenty of opportunities for both sides. Although there was a total of 15 shots and 12 corners in the first half, only three shots were put on frame. Jesse Klug ’16 kept the pressure high, but none of his five shots on the day hit the target.

After a scoreless first half, Army came back strong out of the locker room. Less than 15 minutes after the break, the Black Knights notched the first goal after a free kick into the box went untouched into the net.

Thorsheim managed to tie the game back up with a penalty shot just 2:16 after the Army goal, and the game headed into overtime at a 1-1 deadlock. Army only had one shot on goal in the second half, while the Bison had nine total attempts.

It didn’t take long for the Orange and Blue to claim the victory in the first overtime match of the season. Grad’s header flew right above the Army keeper, and the golden goal helped the Bison leave with momentum for further Patriot League play.

“Winning an overtime game gives our team a lot of confidence to be able to score late in the game and shows that we have the legs to play more than 90 minutes if needed,” Grad said.

Austin Lenart ’17 and Thorsheim finished with three shots each, while Thorsheim recorded three points thanks to his goal and assist.

“Coming away from West Point with three points provides us with a strong start to league play and shows we can compete with every team in our league,” Brian Ward ’15 said.

The Bison then returned home on Oct. 1 to face Penn State. The Nittany Lions, ranked fourth in the nation with an 8-0-1 record, certainly placed a high bar for the Bison to measure up to.

The game started evenly in the opening minutes, but Penn State soon started to take over. The Bison offense was orchestrated through Thorsheim, who stole the ball in the attacking third at the 12th minute but failed to capitalize.

The Bison defense stood strong most of the night, but one hole in the defense led to a Penn State goal in the 17th minute off of a cross from the left side. The Orange and Blue entered halftime down 1-0.

“Giving up the first goal in a game always tests the character of your team. You have the option to lose energy and give up, or to increase your effort and fight back,” Ward said.

Despite plenty of energy in the second half, the Orange and Blue couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities. A second Penn State goal was disallowed early in the second half before scoring a second goal late in the half, but even with high pressure on the other end as the clock counted down, the Bison offense didn’t finish.

Still, the defense proved why it is the best in the Patriot League against a powerhouse like Penn State. Lansing and Clarke Fox ’16 both played a half each, allowing one goal each in the defeat.

Despite the loss, a new stadium record for attendance was put in place as more than 1,500 fans came out to watch the match.

The Orange and Blue (5-5 overall, 1-0 PL) will stay at Emmitt Field for a match against Lehigh on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.

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