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Lions Riding Momentum Heading into Battle With Michigan

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Exactly one week ago Penn State (7-3-1) was looking to erase a 1-0 double overtime loss to Saint Francis before heading on the road to Indiana. After the Nittany Lions' performance Sunday against the Hoosiers, it's safe to say Bob Warming's squad was able to easily forget about the set back against the Red Flash.

9318233.jpegThe Nittany Lions topped Indiana 2-0 for the first shutout in Bloomington in program history and launched themselves into the top spot in the Big Ten.

With another conference matchup Friday against Michigan (4-3-3), Penn State will take a lot from the historic win on the road.

"We are trying to defend the Big Ten title and I don't think there is any better way we could have started after winning two games over arguably two of the better Big Ten schools," said junior midfielder Owen Griffith. "Beating Indiana at their place and scoring two goals in the first half was a dream for us and to get that win gives us a big boost confidence wise as we continue Big Ten Play."

Griffith netted one of the two Penn State goals in the first half against Indiana, the other coming from Jordan Tyler, and goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton also earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second time in his career.

Penn State went from reeling after the loss to Saint Francis to the top of the Big Ten in a matter of a single match. There is a lot to take from that match that can carry over into the rest of Big Ten play, but just like after playing Saint Francis, Penn State has put the result in the rearview and they are now focusing on their next opponent: Michigan.

"We took one day to relax, get in the hot and cold tubs and regenerate our bodies and bask a little bit knowing that we did win and then the next day we got right back to business," said Griffith.

Griffith said he and his teammates aren't going to completely forget the win over Indiana because there is a lot to take away, but the focus has turned to Michigan and it started in practice earlier this week watching film. Warming told his team that holding on to the confidence gained from Indiana is extremely important, but he said they also must know that any team could still beat them at any time.

Taking it in stride, the confidence factor is the difference maker for Penn State on Friday. There is no further need for any validation or proof that they can hang with the nation's top teams because now they have already done that against California and Indiana.

Now, the difficulty comes with staying atop the conference and keeping the momentum moving forward. However, for Wolverton, that isn't a concern.

"It was our goal at the beginning of the season to win the Big Ten and being in a spot to do so continues to give us confidence and there aren't any worries about being where we are," said Wolverton.

Warming laid out the plan for beating the Wolverines, who are coming off of a 1-0 win at Ohio State. Penn State will focus on keeping fresh legs on the field, especially at the forward position to find holes in the Michigan defense.

The bench for the Nittany Lions is more than capable to relieve starters of minutes and provide valuable time on the pitch, something Griffith said is just another weapon to their arsenal during conference play.

"It makes us almost impossible to scout because of all of our front runners are getting goals and assists and we are all different players," said Griffifth. "We bring guys off the bench that are as productive and such different players than the starters and that's what we need to have a successful season."

Nittany Lions Ready for Indiana

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a non-conference defeat to Saint Francis on Wednesday, Bob Warming and are looking to do something they haven't done since 2005; beat Indiana on the road.

9294432.jpegIt may seem that a double overtime loss that ended in the fashion that it did couldn't come at a worse time for the Nittany Lions as they face the defending national champions, but that isn't necessarily the case. Penn State will look at Saint Francis, make the necessary adjustments and wipe the slate clean.

"Some of our possessions and ball rotations and stuff into the box was awesome, the loss can't be positive but you can show them some of the clips and what went well," said Warming.

Redshirt senior defender Akil Howard feels the same way as his head coach. The loss Wednesday didn't present many positives, but there's no time to dwell on miscues especially as the grueling schedule of the Big Ten continues.

"We just have to focus on what's in front of us," said Howard. "We can't change anything, what happened already happened. Moving forward we have to get the guys focused on Big Ten because that's the conference we are in and Indiana is a really good team."

The Hoosiers have had some growing pains early after their main goal-scorer from 2012 Eriq Zavaleta graduated and is now in the MLS. Similar to Penn State, Indiana has had to find young goal-scorers to lead them in non-conference play in 2013.

Howard said he knows that despite Indiana's record, this is still the defending national champions and they will still be a tough team to defeat, especially on their home pitch.

"We have played a lot of them and a lot of them are returning guys and they were a good team last year and bring back a lot of strong talented guys," said Howard. "The guys know we have a battle ahead of us and we're just focused on getting prepared as best as we can so we can get another Big Ten title."

A win against Indiana, a team that Penn State is 11-29-3 all-time against the Hoosiers and 2-4 in their last six meetings, would be a major confidence builder, to say the least. The Nittany Lions haven't beaten Indiana in a regular season match since 2008.

Thus, Howard and the Nittany Lions will use that prior history as motivation to get their focus back on getting wins in conference.

"We have to be really pumped for this game because we didn't get the win last year, so going into their place we have to get a good result on the road which is always tough," Howard said. "The guys are pumped and ready to go because Big Ten is what's important for us."

Howard added that a win against Indiana will erase the memory of the double overtime decision to Saint Francis and put the team back in the driver's seat of the 2013 season.

Penn State and Indiana square off Sunday at 1 p.m. The match will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.

Offense Rolls in Win over Wisconsin

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Tyler_9266039.jpegBy Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Prior to Penn State's 2-1 win at West Virginia Wednesday all four of the Nittany Lions' (6-2-1, 1-0) wins came in 1-0 decisions. In their Big Ten opener on Sunday against Wisconsin (5-2-1, 0-1) Penn State continued the scoring trend netting three goals in a 3-1 victory.

Despite a tally from Martin Seiler in the 10th minute head coach Bob Warming needed to make a change in the second half after a Badger goal in the 31st minute tied the contest after the first 40 minutes.

"Even though we got that goal I thought we were playing with low energy," said Warming. "We decided in the second half to press so we sent our outside backs to their wide midfield players and pressed the whole time."

The decision to press rejuvenated the Penn State offensive attack as the ball was primarily in the Badger zone for the majority of the second half.

Both of the Nittany Lions' second half goals illustrated that rejuvenation. Although it is scored as an own goal, the second Penn State goal of the game was a product of the changed second half game plan.

Shane Campbell beat a Badger defender on a run down the sidelines in the Wisconsin zone, dumped the ball to Jordan Tyler and Tyler was able to get a shot on net, which eventually forced the own goal.

Five minutes later Penn State again controlled the pace this time with Randy Falk who fed a perfect cross to Eli Dennis who finished the scoring try.

Penn State netted two goals and had opportunities to get even more in the second half, something that was far from normal for the Nittany Lions in non-conference play.

"I felt like we could have had five (goals) in the second half and that's pretty unusual," said Warming. "I told (Penn State women's soccer head coach) Erica Walsh earlier in the week after they won that 6-1 and said I would just love to know what that feels like."

Warming and his squad certainly found out on Sunday. Now, the Nittany Lions are clicking and it is a very satisfying feeling for a group that eyes their second straight conference title.

"For me as a defender it is always great to score three and it takes pressure off of us defenders playing many games only winning 1-0 battling to the 90th minute is always tough," said Seiler.

"It's like we finally figured out how to score, which is good," he laughed.

An important part of the Penn State goal scoring attack is the continued improvement of Tyler who returned in 2013 after being sidelined last year with an ACL injury.

Tyler notched a goal against West Virginia and tallied six shots against the Badgers adding another weapon for Penn State.

"It's always hard coming off an ACL injury and I just felt like coming back I was getting frustrated I wasn't scoring and last game I scored my first goal and now it's just time to keep rolling," said Tyler.

Penn State will look to keep its undefeated home record alive as they host Saint Francis (Pa.) on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Luckily for Warming, he can rotate a number of players in and out of games during this tough string of tough non-conference and conferences matches.

"We played a lot of guys today and I feel like every player we bring in the game is just as good as the guy we took out," said Warming. "I don't think we drop off at all. They are different but they all bring something to the game."

Nittany Lions Ready to Start Conference Play

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Wolverton_5596061.jpegBy Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Three games. Eight days. Four goals. Three wins. That's how the Penn State men's soccer team (5-2-1) will head into conference play on Sunday against Wisconsin (5-1-1) at 2:30 p.m. at Jeffrey Field.

Coming off their first road win of 2013 and first win against West Virginia since 1990, Bob Warming's squad is in feeling good before opening conference play against the Badgers. The Nittany Lions pulled off a 2-1 comeback win in Morgantown with two important goals from two important goal scorers.

"Shane (Campbell) getting his first college goal, Jordan (Tyler) getting his first goal since coming off of ACL surgery, plus Kyle (MacDonald) and Connor (Maloney) both getting fantastic assists and in the scoring column was huge," said Warming.

Not only was it huge because the goals helped Penn State get the win, but also because it shows the continued improvement of the Nittany Lion offensive attack.

Two weeks ago it was Eli Dennis and Kyle MacDonald, last week it was Mark Wadid and this week it was Campbell and Tyler who came through in the scoring column. Multiple Nittany Lions are getting involved with scoring, which was a worry for Penn State heading into the 2013 season.

Now, entering Big Ten play where goals come at a premium, Penn State couldn't be clicking on all cylinders at any better time.

The Nittany Lions have let up a measly two goals since a Sept. 13 tie with No. 5 Cal, notching a 3-0-1 record. For Warming, it starts with his leaders: centerback Martin Seiler and goaltender Andrew Wolverton.

"Leadership is holding people accountable and those guys are doing a better and better job of holding people accountable for everything to make sure we are taking care of things every single possession," said Warming.

Having leadership is important for any competitive collegiate soccer team, but especially for these Nittany Lions.  Nearly half of the contributing players on the roster are underclassmen, players that weren't involved with the Big Ten regular season championship one year ago and haven't played the rigorous conference schedule yet.

With that, Seiler, Wolverton and the other experienced Penn State players, the younger Nittany Lions are prepared to begin Big Ten play starting with the one-loss Wisconsin.

"Some of our guys have never played in a Big Ten game," said Wolverton. "It's a different environment and different situation and hard work every game.

You can't take a single game off. Every single game is a battle to the very end. It doesn't matter if you win 1-0 or 4-0, it's just a battle to the end every single game."

The Big Ten won't be easy. Penn State knows that. Take 2012 for example: the fourth-seeded Big Ten team, Indiana, won the NCAA national championship.

Last year, Penn State won the Big Ten regular season title with every single win coming by just a one-goal difference. One play or one mistake could change the outcome of a game.

"Every game is a real incredible battle," said Warming. "You can't count on anything. All you can do is prepare yourself that it's going to be a tight game. It all comes down to one possession and concentration has to be at a very high-level come Big Ten play. I think our guys are confident and ready to go."

After meeting Wisconsin on the pitch of Jeffrey Field, Penn State will host Saint Francis (Pa.) on Oct. 2 and then travel to Bloomington to play Indiana on Oct. 6, where they haven't won since 1995.

Wadid Clutch Again as Nittany Lions Top Duquesne

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Thumbnail image for Wadid_9175057.jpegBy Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Seven games into his career at Penn State, freshman forward Mark Wadid has already tallied three game-winning goals. His latest came in the Nittany Lions' (4-2-1) fourth win of the 2013 season Sunday at Jeffrey Field against Duquesne (4-3-0).

Just five days after netting the game-winner against Robert Morris in the 34th minute it was déjà vu for Wadid as he came through in the clutch, this time in the 65th minute, to garner another 1-0 victory.

This one was a little different, though. Wadid had a similarly easy scoring chance about four minutes earlier that Duquesne goalkeeper Sam Frymier sniffed out and denied the Mississaugua, Ontario native from a scoring opportunity.

"He read me like a book and I should have finished it," said Wadid. "I usually put my head down after I miss but I keep learning from my mistakes."

Wadid has embraced the role as the team's main goal scorer and has learned from mistakes very quickly. That has become evident over the past few matches as he continuously gets scoring chances and keeps shooting instead of retreating from taking shots because some aren't finding the net.

He showed that against Robert Morris and against the Dukes on Sunday as he put the 61st minute miss in the rear view and netted a cross from Eli Dennis.

"It was a great combination play between me and Eli," he said. "I love playing with him. He saw me running and played a through ball and I just finished it.

"I put it in the second time and didn't make the same mistake twice."

The combination of Wadid, Dennis, Shane Campbell and Jordan Tyler has made it tough for opposing teams center backs to defend all four offensive threats for Penn State and it has shown in their last two wins at home.

Sunday Campbell was able to make a run that attracted the Dukes defense toward his side of the field leaving Wadid wide open for the scoring opportunity. Dennis read the play and fed the true freshman.

"Shane was making a run across and the center back went with Shane and Mark opened up for a perfect little slip," said Dennis, who tallied his fourth point of the season. "(Wadid) has done it three times this year and makes that run all the time and it's really easy to play them and he did well to finish it."

Wadid's performance against Robert Morris and Duquesne showed a lot to his teammates and coaching staff. Specifically for head coach Bob Warming, it shows why he signed Wadid in the first place: speed and goal scoring ability.

Combining that with the three other experienced players that play high for Penn State, there seems to be a flow offensively, which was a question mark for Warming heading into 2013.

"The big thing is that (Wadid) is improving and we have a little rotation now," Warming said. "Those are some strong athletic guys up there and eventually center backs move their mark a little bit and that's what happened today."

Wadid has earned the trust of his teammates and coaching staff. Just seven games in, Dennis already feels that Wadid isn't playing like a freshman anymore, but like a junior or senior.

The trust being put forth to the true freshman is the biggest reason why Wadid says he has been able to step up.

"I love how coach puts so much faith in me and all the other freshman," said Wadid. "He puts me in and I try not to disappoint him, but the only reason why I get these goals is because every other person on the field does his job properly.

Part of my job description is to score goals and part of Eli's job description is to combine. Everyone has a different role on the field and my role is to score."

Penn State will need to continue to piece its offensive and defensive attacks together as the schedule only gets tougher. The Nittany Lions will head to West Virginia on Wednesday before returning home Sept. 29 to open Big Ten play against Wisconsin.

Freshmen Trio Spark Nittany Lions to Victory

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By Matt Allibone, Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off of a thrMaloney_9155783.jpegee-game winless stretch, the Penn State men's soccer team entered Tuesday night's game against Robert Morris in need of a boost.

Right off the bat, that jolt was provided by a number of some of the Nittany Lions' youngest players, namely freshmen Mark Wadid, Connor Maloney and Mason Klerks.

The trio made plays all over the field on a night that saw the Blue and White dominate possession in the first half en route to a 1-0 victory.

"They really passed the ball nice in the first half and got us a lot of opportunities," said head coach Bob Warming. "They've got a few weeks under their belt now and they're ready to play."

Wadid, who gave the team 51 strong minutes coming off the bench, scored the Nittany Lions' lone goal off of a long through ball from Klerks with 12 minutes remaining in the half.

The freshman forward's shot was the highlight of a first half that saw Penn State out-shoot the Colonials 9-2 and completely control the flow of the game.

"I just saw open space and I was able to turn and beat my guy," said Wadid. "It was a great ball from Mason and I buried it."

While the Mississauga, Ontario native may have only scored once, he made sure his presence was felt continuously throughout the match, getting off four shots and consistently generating chances in the Robert Morris zone.

Warming, who has coached his fair share of goal scorers in his 35 years as a collegiate coach, believes that Wadid has the potential to rank with the best of them.

"Mark's a goal scorer and he's tremendous in front of the net," said Warming. "He's got great speed and now he just has to work on the other aspects of his game."

Warming also gave high praise to his duo of first year midfielders, Klerks and Maloney, for the energy that they distributed.

Not only did Klerks create the Nittany Lions only goal, he was also a rock for the team, playing 88 minutes throughout the course of the game.

"Mason did a great job this summer working himself into shape," said Warming. "He's catching up to the speed of the collegiate game and he's been fantastic."

The Nittany Lions wasted no time in establishing the tempo of the game as soon as it began, and much of that had to do with the dynamic play of Maloney right from the jump.

While the midfielder was unable to score, his quickness enabled him to continuously create chances, get off three shots, and at times seem like he was in two places at once.

"He's a water bug and he's everywhere on the field," said Warming. "He's so quick and shifty and he's seeing the game better and improving."

Maloney, who plays much bigger than his 5-foot-6, 145 pound frame would suggest, came extremely close on numerous occasions to expanding Penn State's lead.

Despite the missed opportunities, the Harrisburg, Pa. native was in high spirits afterward with his team coming away with a victory.

"At the end of the day all that matters is that we got the win," said Maloney. "I try to go as hard as possible and give it my all and as long as we win I'm good."

Now six games into the season, the freshmen feel as though their transition to the college game has gone smoothly with the help of their teammates and coaches.

"It's easy playing with the veterans on our team,' said Klerks. "It's great to contribute this early but the older guys make sure we do the right thing and we look up to them."

With the Nittany Lions now back in the win column following a hard fought and emotional 1-1 tie against fifth ranked California on Friday night, Morning and his team feel as though they have established good momentum moving forward.

The biggest focus for the Lions now will be finishing off more of their chances and keeping their energy consistent throughout an entire game.

"I'm proud of them because they gave a gutsy performance when they were exhausted," said Warming. "They never quit and with the way we played (against California) I feel like we've won two in a row."


Lions' Grit Shows Against No. 5 Cal

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MacDonald_9233126.jpegBy Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a night where pride, friendship, resiliency and honor were on display on the inaugural Mack Brady Night, the way the Penn State men's soccer team competed with No. 5 ranked Cal was almost perfect.

The Nittany Lions tied the Golden Bears 1-1 after playing two overtime sessions with either team being unable to notch a goal in the extra 20 minutes.

Nevertheless, the message put forth by the Penn State soccer program, athletic department and community outweighs the end result of the soccer match.

"The athletic department was just fantastic tonight," said head coach Bob Warming. "We have a first class athletic department to do the things that they did tonight for a special member of our community."

Warming's squad could have given up on Friday night after a goal by Steve Birnbaum in the 20th minute in the early stages of the first half and going over 70 minutes of being shutout by one of the nation's best teams.

They were able to look at the Brady family and the motivation provided by them and the cause they were supporting with the patch in honor of the late Mack Brady and tie the game in the 77th minute on Kyle MacDonald's first career goal in the blue and white.

"We had the ball on the right wing, Owen put in a great job to get to a dangerous position down on the line, kept his head up and crossed the ball and I saw the defenders crashing toward the goal and put it away," said MacDonald.

As soon as MacDonald's goal found the net, Jeffrey field erupted. Not only because the game was tied, but because it was tied for Mack Brady and his family. That's who Penn State was playing for Friday night.

"Right from the start of the game, the address that Dean Brady gave set the tone for the whole game," said MacDonald. "It wasn't about us tonight, it was more about the Penn State community and how they got behind Mack Brady and the Bradys.

"This game really meant much more than a soccer game."

Goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton sat in between the pipes just a few feet away from the new Mack Brady logos on the pitch of Jeffrey Field and all he could think about was the patch on the back of his jersey.

"The whole time (Mack) was in the back of my mind and I wish I could have gotten the shut out for him, but that's a good team so letting up one goal is not terrible," said Wolverton.

Despite allowing the goal, the Nittany Lions did something that defines the legacy Mack Brady left behind.

They had each others backs.

Akil Howard proved that late in the 88th minute when Cal had a clear chance on net after getting past Wolverton and Howard came out of nowhere to deny the goal and negate any further scoring opportunities for the Golden Bears.

"That just shows that the whole team is committed to keeping the ball out of the net," said Wolverton. "It's not just me it's the whole team and that was a prime example of it."

Putting the draw aside, Warming sees the obvious positive out of his team's performance against Cal.

"The good news is if people tell me that is the best team in the country our guys have made a lot of progress the last two weeks," he said.

Penn State returns to Jeffrey Field on Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Robert Morris.

Mack Brady's Legacy Lives on at Penn State

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Mack Brady.jpgOn Dec. 31, 2012, eight-year-old Mack Brady passed away unexpectedly. Brady was an avid fan of Penn State soccer. The Nittany Lion men's soccer team will host the inaugural Mack Brady Night on Friday (7 p.m.) when it takes on No. 5 Cal at Jeffrey Field.

By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Christian and Elizabeth Brady were driving back to State College on a wintery Central Pennsylvania night. They sat in the car together, husband and wife, thinking and brainstorming.

Christian Brady has brainstormed and developed ideas for most of his professional and academic career. He is a thinker and a researcher. This time, though, it was a little different.

Days prior to that car ride home; he was spending time with his wife and his son, Mack, during the holiday season after another successful semester as the Dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State.

Then, on Dec. 31, 2012, everything changed.

Mack, an aspiring goalkeeper and follower of the Penn State men's soccer team, had a high fever. Simply following normal protocol, his parents took him to the doctor and then just two days later a blood infection took the life of their son. Just like that.

That put the Bradys in their car to State College on that cold wintery night. Thinking. Brainstorming.

Remembering Mack

"We needed to find ways to remember Mack," Christian Brady said. "I immediately suggested that we should do something with Penn State men's soccer because Mack loved soccer and loved playing with his friends and also came to men's soccer games all the time."

Brady, familiar with the endowment and memorial scholarship process through his time raising money in various ways at Penn State, contacted men's soccer head coach Bob Warming just days after his son's death to discuss the idea.

Warming, with no hesitation, began to devise a plan to remember the child that was on the sidelines of Jeffrey Field a couple feet away from where he coached just a few months prior.

"At that time it was so early in the process of the grieving for the family I just wanted to do anything possible to help the Bradys," said Warming. "Anything that they thought would be helpful to them I wanted to do.

"Certainly it's a wonderful gift to the goalkeepers forever at Penn State and a remarkably generous series of contributions by people from all over the country including primarily the Penn State community. To me, it was more about what they wanted to do to honor Mack. It was more about what we can do to help this family."

This was just the beginning of the healing and remembering process for the Brady family. Little did they know, with the help of Warming, women's soccer head coach Erica Walsh and their teams, remembering Mack Brady would be widespread in the State College community just months later.

It started with the Mack Brady Memorial Men's Soccer Fund at Penn State, a scholarship and endowment fund. It was created in partnership with the Penn State men's soccer program to provide funding for scholarships, equipment and aid in other areas.

"I really wanted it to be a fund that the coach could use to build up his program," said Christian Brady. "They have already gotten new equipment so [goalkeeper coach] Bo [Oshoniyi] can use it with the goalkeepers to help them train.

"Frankly, the goal is to create the best collegiate goalkeeping program in the nation."

As the fund began to progress, perhaps the most significant moment came to be when a father Mack_Patchb_logcrop.jpgof a player on the State College Celtics, the soccer team Mack played for, designed a patch to be worn on the jerseys of their team.

Brady brought the patch to Warming one day and Warming had an idea.

"He asked me if his goalkeepers could wear the patch," said Brady. "I said I thought it would be a great idea and before I could finish he said, 'forever.' I asked him why and he said 'I want Penn State goalkeepers to always wear this patch for Mack.'"

They will be doing just that. Forever.

Andrew Wolverton, Danny Sheerin, Micah Collins and Evan Finney will be the first group of goalkeepers to wear the patch. Wolverton, the starting goalie for the Nittany Lions felt honored to be able to start this tradition in the season opener against Radford on Aug. 30.

"It's a huge honor," said Wolverton. "It gives us a reason to play harder for and something to honor every time we go out there and play. It's a horrible tragedy for the Brady family, but it's a great honor for us and for them and I know it really means a lot to them."

Not only has the soccer program create the fund and wear the patch, they also helped Mack's teammates and other youth soccer players in the State College area at a camp this summer in Mack's honor.

"It helps gives us purpose," said Brady. "It helps us remember Mack in a positive way."

Now, the Bradys, the Penn State athletic department and community are set to continue to honor Mack on Friday against No. 5 California with the inaugural Mack Brady Night, proving the true colors of the school at which Christian Brady has spent over seven years working.

"There has been a lot of discussion about the culture and character of Penn State and Penn State athletics," said Brady. "[This] is the culture of Penn State: to support a community and an individual that is in loss and in need. It's a tremendous testimony to the character of these people who make up our Penn State community."

A New Normal

At first Christian Brady and his wife were unsure as to how exactly they would move on from the loss of their son. Now, they have thousands of people supporting them into this next stage of their life, a stage Brady called the "new normal."

What is the new normal for the Bradys? It is without Mack physically, but spiritually he is still very much alive.

"Our new normal is without Mack, but our new normal is now with Mack being known to thousands of more people than who would have ever known who he was," said Brady. "We might have gone to the game Friday night and Bob would have said 'hi' to Mack and Bo would have asked how keeping is going, but that would be it and we would just sit and watch the game.

"Now, hopefully there will be a couple thousand people on Friday night to come out and support Penn State players and tip the hat at Mack and recognize him."

Admission and parking is free on Friday and there will be a number of events for kids, an auction and other events giving all proceeds to the fund. A few thousand are expected as there is a whiteout and Twitter hashtag #MackTheJeff.

Even the simple things, like a Twitter hashtag or a whiteout, it all creates new ways for the Bradys to think of and remember Mack.

"Knowing this helps us find the new meaning and helps his memory live on in a very positive way," Brady said. "There's a lot more to it, but that's a start."

Perhaps the most perfect part to all of this; Mack had the dream of becoming a goaltender at Penn State and although it cannot physically happen, his dream will live on forever through the fund and the patch.

It was perfect imagery for Brady, Warming and Wolverton. In soccer, goalies have the team's back at all times. With the patch on the jerseys, Mack will have their backs, forever, while they live out his dream.

"I knew that the odds of Mack starting some day for Penn State and becoming the U.S. National goalkeeper, which was his dream, were pretty slim," Brady said. "He is doing that now, in a sense though. Some of these guys are going to be good enough to play pro and that means they are going to carry Mack's name with them."

The Bradys will never forget that car ride in last winter where they had to think about ways to honor their son that passed away just hours earlier.

Nevertheless, because of the fund, the patch, Friday's game and what will happen in the future, nobody will ever forget Mack Brady.

That is the new normal for Christian and Elizabeth Brady.

Dennis' Life is a Journey in the Sky

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Dennis_9185510.jpegBy Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A lot of things happen in the air. Birds fly, planes fly, rain comes down, sunlight shines through. No matter what it is, something always happens in the sky.

Eli Dennis' life is primarily based in the sky.

One day he looked up at the clouds, the sunlight and the features of the sky and was intrigued. So intrigued, he decided he wanted to spend his college career studying the atmosphere and meteorology.

"I was seriously just fascinated with the sky," he said. "I was looking at the clouds and from there I have loved everything I have been doing with it."

After looking up once or twice, Dennis' life goals were concrete. His love for  science was always there, but upon transferring to Penn State from American University, his love for meteorology was firm. It was clear what his focus was going to be academically while at Penn State.

It was an odd choice at first, especially when he told his academic advisor that he wanted to enter the meteorology program.

"I went to my advisor and told her I wanted to try meteorology and she asked me why," he said. "I said 'I don't know, I am just fascinated by the sky.'"

Maybe it all doesn't sound unusual right now, but here's the twist.

Dennis isn't just a student at Penn State. His life isn't predicated in the sky solely because of his academic endeavors. The connection between Dennis and the sky also come from the turf at Jeffrey Field, the home of Penn State soccer.

Yes, a student-athlete is a meteorology major. It's different, even Dennis himself admitted to that. But there is a connection between the two because of the way he plays on the field.

He thrives in the air. Because of his ability to win balls in the air, Dennis has become a very important piece to the ever complicated offensive attack in the game of soccer.

Penn State men's soccer head coach knew he was getting an aerial presence when Dennis transferred in 2011.

"I called around to a lot of coaches in the Patriot league and asked them about (Dennis) and they told me he was unbelievable in the air and would be terrific in the air at any level," said Warming.

"Eli can head it harder than most human beings can kick it."

Dennis proved that on Sept. 1 against Central Connecticut State as he notched his first goal as a Nittany Lion late in the second half in Penn State's 1-0 win. The goal came just two days after he recorded his first points in blue and white off an assist against Radford.

"It's exciting," the redshirt junior said. "Sometimes the game works out like that. As soon as Connor (Maloney) hit the cross I knew it was a goal."

Warming was aware of Dennis' aerial abilities prior to his arrival and is even getting more of an idea in the early going of his team's 2013 season.

What he didn't know when Dennis transferred was the type of person he was getting out of the Easton, Md. native.

Both of Dennis' parents played soccer at Penn State. His father, Greg Ennis, was a four-year starter on the men's team and his mother, Laura, played on the women's team and was an integral part moving the team from the club level to the varsity level.

Warming was getting a Penn State guy, through and through, that also happened to be an intriguing human being.

"He's all in for Penn State," Warming said. "He came here for academic reasons and we were happy he came. I love talking to Eli. I really enjoy talking to him and hearing about all of his adventures he had over the summer."

One of those adventures was his trip in Boulder, Colo. at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Dennis was selected as the lone representative from Penn State to apply to the program and was one of 20 students from across the country to be selected to attend the conference.

At the conference students toured the facilities, met scientists and interacted with them regarding their research and individual paths to the center.

Through this experience and all of his studies with meteorology, Dennis came to an interesting conclusion.

For him, at least, soccer and meteorology are similar. Both involve detailed study, curiosity and precision in order to be correct and successful.

"Meteorology is a true science and people are always studying and observing their surroundings trying to get a better understanding of how things work in the atmosphere," he said. "On the soccer field you need that same curiosity and excitement to learn and get better."

Those reasons are why Dennis and his head coach get along so well. Dennis likes breaking the atmosphere down and looking at the reasons why certain situations play out the way they do. Warming does the same thing with soccer.

"It is fun to work with Coach Warming because he is so good at breaking down game film and talking about little moves in such detail and it's almost a science, just like meteorology," Dennis said.

When Dennis took a step back and put his academic and athletic journey in perspective he realized that he really does live his life through the air both in the classroom and on the soccer field.

It has all come together for him over the past few months whether it was attending the conference in Colorado or his first points as a Penn Stater. Dennis has come to what he called a "cool" realization that his journey has become much more solidified in the classroom and on the field in similar fashions.

Nevertheless, in both respects, there isn't time for him to dwell on the past.

"It's cool it worked out like this," he said. "I haven't thought much about it, but there's not much time to dwell on a goal or a personal achievement. I can't live in the past and have to be focused on the next opportunity."

Dennis will get his next opportunity on the soccer field this weekend as Penn State faces Rutgers on Friday and St. John's on Sunday.

Freshmen Lead Lions to Pair of Victories

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Wadid_9175057.jpegBy Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's no secret that the Penn State men's soccer team features a lot of youth in 2013, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

After two 1-0 wins against Radford and Central Connecticut State this weekend, it is also apparent that the youth is more than capable of creating scoring opportunities this season for the Nittany Lions.

Combining with a veteran defense and goaltender, true freshmen Mark Wadid and Connor Maloney gave Penn State soccer fans a glimpse of the future this weekend as both were involved in the two goals Penn State scored in its weekend victories.

Friday night against Radford, after having numerous scoring opportunities, Wadid came through with a goal in the 69th minute notching his first point as a Nittany Lion.

"It feels great," Wadid said. "I was relieved. I had a couple chances I could have finished in the first half and I kept my composure and then I popped one in in the second half."

Wadid's performance impressed head coach Bob Warming, not only because of his first career goal, but the pace in which he played and the amount of opportunities he had against Radford.

"He's pretty fast, isn't he?" Warming said. "That's what good strikers do, though. Good strikers keep shooting and want to get goals and forget about the misses pretty quick."

On Sunday it was Maloney who provided a cross that redshirt-junior Eli Dennis headed into the net in the 80th minute to break a scoreless game against Central Connecticut State.

Maloney laid the cross perfectly to Dennis, who notched his first goal at Penn State, one game after getting his first point as a Nittany Lion on Friday against Radford.

"Connor served a great ball and I was lucky to be at the right place," said Dennis. "As soon as he hit it I said wow I have to put this away. He put it on a silver platter. I didn't have to do anything, he did all of the work."

After captain Owen Griffith went down on Friday night with a minor ankle sprain, Warming looked right to his freshman to step up on Sunday and they did exactly that.

"We still have a bunch of guys that are out right now and we needed guys to step up," he said. "That was my message to them: 'you're not a freshman anymore, you are one of our players and we need you to make an impact on the game when you come in.'"

"I thought all of them really responded and they were great."

It is a luxury for Warming to be able to have a reliable group of defenders in goaltender Andrew Wolverton and center back's Martin Seiler and Akil Howard to be able to gel with his young group of scorers on the offensive end.

They certainly were able to gel Sunday night and Warming was satisfied with that after showing his team video of Friday's match against Radford and seeing them improve in a few key areas.

"I showed them video clips of our team and showed them a few things we needed to do to have a little ball circulation and spread the field out a little bit better," he said Sunday night after his team's second 1-0 shutout of the weekend.

"Tonight, in that phase of the game it was absolutely outstanding. Ball circulation and movement was incredible." 

The two shutouts are even more special for this Penn State team as they come in the first two games the goaltenders have worn a patch for Mack Brady, who passed away unexpectedly at the age of eight this past year. 

Penn State soccer will further honor Brady, who had a love for soccer and goalkeeping, on Friday Sept. 13 at Jeffrey Field for the inaugural Mack Brady Game against California with all proceeds benefiting the Mack Brady Soccer Fund.

Penn State will travel to Rutgers and St. John's this weekend before returning home on Sept. 13.