Penn State men’s football rallies late for emotional victory in Mack Brady game, Big Ten opener | Penn State Men’s Football News
For Penn State, Friday’s game against Wisconsin meant more to the program than its first conference win of the season.
The game with the blue and white conference foe marked Mack Brady’s 10th annual game, which takes place every fall in concert with a free clinic that takes place every January.
The annual game was named for Brady, who was a Nittany Lions football fan before he died in 2012 aged 8 from a blood infection.
On the pitch, it was a tense, defensively focused game that was scoreless for the first 85 minutes.
Redshirt freshman midfielder Van Danielson netted a header to give the Nittany Lions the lead, and they never looked back en route to a 1-0 victory and their first win in the Big Ten of the season.
The blue-and-whites, having secured their first home conference game, are scheduled to face Maryland at College Park on Tuesday.
Danielson scored his first goal of the season in only his second career game. The Nittany Lion saw time on the pitch with recent injuries to the blue-and-white roster, including senior forward Liam Butts who went undressed for the second game in a row.
While the Nittany Lions are happy to get a win on the field, the significance of this particular game weighed heavily on the players on Friday.
Given how infatuated Brady was with Penn State, and especially the men’s soccer program, at a young age, the opportunity to play in this game isn’t one that student-athletes take for granted.
It was Danielson’s first time playing in the memorial game, and being able to score and get the win made it all the more enjoyable.
“Getting the first win in the Big Ten is always a big deal,” Danielson said. “The Mack Brady game means so much to us because we do it for him.”
Coach Jeff Cook has been at the helm of the program since 2018, so he recognizes the game’s importance to the team and the community.
Although Cook has never met Brady, he believes his passion and love for the game and the program is something the Nittany Lions cannot take for granted and will continue to fuel similar qualities within them.
“It’s really special because it means so much to our program,” Cook said of the game. “I never had the pleasure of meeting Mack myself, but I have a good relationship with his family.”
“He was a young boy who loved football, loved goalies and loved Penn State. That’s a pretty good combination in my book.
The game itself was the Nittany Lions’ third straight Friday night kickoff under the lights at Jeffrey Field.
During these three matches, the supporters and the community showed a great wave of support to encourage the blues and whites, with the student section in particular.
Better known as the Park Avenue Army, the student co-ed football section has shown a lot of passion and energy, and team members are starting to take notice.
Cook said the crowd was able to lift Penn State and guide them to a win, especially in the second half when they took the lead late in the contest.
“The energy we get from the fans every night, the army of Park Avenue, cannot be underestimated,” Cook said. “We were a bit slow there in the first 15-20 minutes, but the crowd rallied us late.”
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Penn State faced all the competition Friday night against Wisconsin.