Kozak Comes Off Bench to Give No. 17 Men's Soccer Win in 2nd OT

No. 17 Penn 1, American 0 (2 OT) Box Score

PHILADELPHIANo. 17 Penn waited a long time to finally score against American on Tuesday night, waiting until the 107th minute to break a scoreless tie and down the Eagles, 1-0, in double overtime.

For Michael Kozak, the chance to net the game-winner was also a long time coming. The sophomore had appeared in 26 career games without a goal and hadn’t seen a minute of time in the match with American. Still, as the teams took the field for what proved to be the first of two overtimes, Kozak was one of the 11 men on the field for the Quakers.

After the first period of extra time saw neither team score, Kozak finished off a run that spanned two-thirds of the field to give Penn its third overtime win of 2010. The play began back in Penn’s defensive side with a tackle by Alex Tuch. The ball found its way to Christian Barreiro who slid a pass to Loukas Tasigianis. The senior sped up the left side in front of Penn’s bench, cutting to goal just inside the box. His shot on Billy Knutsen was turned aside, but the rebound landed right at Kozak’s feat. The underclassmen wasted no time, booting in the winner and sending Penn’s sideline into a raucous celebration.

It was only fitting that the final play involved the combination of Tasigianis and Kozak along with American’s keeper. In just the second overtime alone, Knutsen had three saves on solid chances from the duo that eventually decided the game. After a save on Kozak in the 103rd minute, Knutsen had to come up big on Tasigianis twice in two minutes – although his second save produced the rebound Kozak deposited.

Knutsen, making his first appearance of the season for American, finished with seven saves. His counterpart, Ben Berg, had four saves for the Quakers to earn his ninth win of the season. The victory was his fifth shutout and third in a row. Berg has now kept opponents off the scoreboard for a span of 305:52 dating back to Penn’s win over Richmond on Sept. 26.

The match was a tale of two halves for Penn as the Quakers came out flat in the opening 45 minutes. The Red and Blue were outshot by a 5-3 margin and had serious trouble keeping the ball in Penn possession as American clogged up the middle passing lanes and took advantage of misplaced Penn passes.

In the second half, Penn came back with a much calmer style and focused on making smart plays. The Quakers had chances to take the lead in the second half off set pieces, but Jason Gorskie and Jonny Dolezal were just wide with shots. Dolezal’s was especially tough as his near-miss came with just seven seconds left in regulation.

Overall, Penn held a 14-8 shot advantage and 8-4 in shots on goal. The Quakers are back in action on Saturday at Dartmouth at 4 p.m.

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