West Virginia improved to 3-0 as it put on a clinic in its victory over Penn State on Friday night in Morgantown, defeating the Nittany Lions 3-1 and dropping Penn State to 1-1-1 on the year.
The Mountaineers dominated the majority of the game, controlling possession and creating numerous scoring opportunities. They now hold two early season victories over ranked opponents, as they defeated No. 3 Pitt on Monday.
Penn State found itself at a clear disadvantage after a red card sent Jalen Watson off in just the 23rd minute of the match, which swung momentum in favor of West Virginia for the majority of the match.
The Nittany Lions’ defense held up for most of the first half, until West Virginia tied together some solid passes in the 34th minute to set up a goal-scoring opportunity for Frederik Jorgensen that would put the Mountaineers up 1-0.
Not long after a few Penn State chances at the start of the second half, the Mountaineers would stretch their lead to two when a header, off a perfectly placed corner kick, found the back of the net.
The Nittany Lions would draw closer in the waning minutes after a goal by Femi Awodesu brought them within one. The goal seemed to ignite a flame under Penn State that had been missing throughout the match, albeit short-lived.
West Virginia would put the finishing touches on in the final minutes as Pau Jimenez Albeda would find the upper right corner to make it 3-1.
Watson’s red card comes back to haunt Penn State
When Watson was handed his first yellow in the 12th minute of the game, it certainly wasn’t the ideal beginning to the game for the Nittany Lions.
Things quickly went from bad to worse, as Watson would be sent off for good almost 10 minutes later, forcing Penn State to play the remaining 67 minutes with only 10 players.
The blue and white were already struggling to contain West Virginia’s crisp and clean passing attack, making Watson’s departure from the pitch even more detrimental to the team's search for success.
Following the red card, Penn State was presented with minimal scoring chances and was only able to control possession for seconds at a time before eventually booting the ball back to the Mountaineers.
MORE SOCCER COVERAGE
Nittany Lions lack control of possession
To say West Virginia dominated possession of the ball throughout the game would be an understatement.
The ball spent the bulk of the 90 minutes in the Mountaineers’ attacking half. When Penn State was able to gain control, it was short lived, as the ball would soon find its way back to a West Virginia player's foot, with the lone exception being the late Nittany Lion goal.
A huge part of West Virginia’s ability to control the possession, and pace of the game, was its propensity to connect multiple passes and advance the ball up the field.
The Mountaineers constant pressure was eventually enough to wear down and break the Penn State defense.
First road game a tough one for Nittany Lions
Penn State had high expectations coming into this season, and so far the Nittany Lions have underperformed. This was the case, once again, in their first road matchup of the season.
The early red card was a defining moment, as it put the blue and white down, both physically and mentally. From that moment on, Penn State was simply unable to keep up with the hot West Virginia squad.
It’s going to be one to learn from for the Nittany Lions, considering they spent nearly the entire 90 minutes on their heels playing defense.
The West Virginia fans were loud and rambunctious for the entirety of the match, something that Penn State hasn’t had to deal with on the road since the 2019 campaign.
MORE SOCCER COVERAGE