By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After being without one of the most important pieces of its offense, Penn State (5-1-1) welcomed transfer junior Mikey Minutillo back to the soccer field on Friday against Albany (2-4-0).
Minutillo made his
presence felt right almost immediately has he set up the teams' leading goal
scorer Julian Cardona for his fifth goal of the season in the 24th minute.
"Julian has only scored goals when Mikey is in the game," said head coach Bob Warming. "Mikey does so much work in the top and his runs are so intelligent and he pressures so well defensively."
Cardona's goal surpassed his career high of four and he has only played seven games thus far this season. It was his last goal since Minutillo went out with a knee injury on August 27.
The goal was set up by Minutillo, but also a great fake from senior forward Minh Vu allowing Cardona to put a move on the only defender covering him at the top of the box.
"Mikey had the ball, took a guy to the end line and played the ball back and outside of the split and I saw him coming so I stayed behind the defense," said Cardona. "I yelled to Minh to dummy it and he had a sick dummy and took a defender with him. I got the ball faked with my left and turned to my right and luckily it went in."
Warming's squad played fast in the first half against Albany in their first game action in over a week. In what Warming called some of the best soccer the team played all year, the passing was what made the team successful in the first half.
In the second half, however, the team slowed down, but by no means was it because they weren't well rested.
"If anything we weren't game sharp by having that much time off," said Warming. "We faded in the second half and we had a few cramps."
Less than 48 hours later, Penn State had to put the cramps behind them as they hosted Adelphi (1-6-0) right after the women's team defeated ranked Wisconsin at Jeffery Field.
It only took just under 27 minutes for the Nittany Lions to get on the board, and once again Minutillo, Cardona and Vu were all involved. This time however, it was Cardona setting up Minutillo for his first goal in blue and white.
"It was fitting today that Julian won a tackle to put Mikey in for the goal," said Warming. "Julian won that tackle, got the ball through to Mikey and he got a great goal out of it."
Minutillo was short for words about his first career goal, but credited his teammate Cardona for setting him up for the goal to give his team a 1-0 lead.
"It feels awesome," said Minutillo. "I have to thank Julian for it, he set me up pretty nice."
The day featured a lot of firsts for Penn State. Warming subbed in 12 different players, which is a season high, including Kelton Cheney who scored his first goal of his young Penn State career.
Cheney, a State College native, was emotional after the game has his parents and grandparents were in attendance to see his first career goal. The goal came off of an assist from fellow freshman Kyle MacDonald, who recorded his first career point.
"It has just been fun playing and getting my first goal," said Cheney. "Kyle gave me a great ball and I was able to score."
His coach knew how big of a goal it was for him to get at home, especially since this moment was over ten years in the making.
"Here's a kid that grew up in State College started coming to games when he was seven years old and here he is a decade later and gets a chance to score his first goal. I am just so happy for him."
Penn State's two wins this weekend kept them undefeated at home, but they won't return back to Jeffery Field until September 29 as they head to Wisconsin on Friday for their first Big Ten match of the season.