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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
'Tis the season for giving thanks, and Penn State Athletics would like to
take an opportunity to say thank you to the loyal fans on Thanksgiving.
As you sit down with family and friends to eat your traditional meal while the
Lions and Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving day home games, Penn State
Athletics would like to thank you, the fans, for the unrivaled support you give
every team on campus. Penn State's teams
would not be the same without the greatest fans in college sports.
As a token of their appreciation, several student-athletes from teams on campus
would like to say thank you and Happy Thanksgiving for the support you give
them throughout the athletic season.
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn
State head coach Bob Warming called the first round of the NCAA Tournament the
hardest match to play until the Elite Eight. Thursday night against St. Francis
Brooklyn (12-6-1), his No. 16 Nittany Lions (12-5-2) hurdled that tough task
and now are on their way to a second round battle with 10th-seeded UC Santa
In true Penn State fashion,
it was a hard fought defensive battle for the full 90 minutes that allowed them
to escape the gritty Terriers on their home turf of Jeffrey Field for the final
time in 2013.
There were two chances for
the Nittany Lions early in the match that were stopped by St. Francis. But the Lions struck in 37th
minute when midfielder Drew Klingenberg and Eli Dennis connected on a goal that
defined their contributions in the 2013 season for Penn State.
Klingenberg played a ball on
the outside and saw the streaking Dennis who finished the cross just as he did
three times in the regular season, except this tally had bigger implications.
"Any time I see Eli open I
know there's a good combination play ready to happen and if he's going to put
the work in I'm absolutely going to put the work in too," Klingenberg said
after the match. "I saw him streaking and before you know it, it was a goal. It
was an awesome play."
Warming called the sequence a
world-class goal and it was exactly that.
St. Francis was just a few
inches away from a world-class goal of their own in the 57th minute
when junior forward Kevin Correa took a free kick from deep outside the box and
nearly bent it past goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton before he hit the post.
Penn State was then able to
hold off a Terrier rally late in the second half and seal a trip to the second
round of the tournament and a Friday morning trip to California.
A lot is to be learned,
though, from this tough first round test for the Nittany Lions. First and
foremost, however, the most important thing in Dennis' mind is that they were
able to play an NCAA tournament game, something only two Penn State players
could say prior to Thursday's match.
"It's good to get a first
round win like this because other than Jordan (Tyler) and Grant (Warming)
nobody has been in a tournament game on our whole team," said Dennis. "It's
nice to have a first round game especially on that was as competitive as this
to set the stage for what's to come."
Coach Warming added a short
bit to Dennis' statement.
"We're veterans now," he
That's how he wants his team
to play moving forward. The biggest thing he, Dennis and Klingenberg stressed
post-game is game management, something all three thought could have been
improved late in the second half against St. Francis Brooklyn.
The Terriers had a few
opportunities late in the final 45 minutes and that will be the focus for Penn
State prior to playing Santa Barbara at historical Harder Stadium on Sunday.
"We need to slow the pace of
the game down sometimes and that means instead of flying forward and taking
guys into the box we have to put our foot on the ball and play it back," Dennis
said. "We have to pick and choose when we want to attack and sometimes
possession is better than taking a chance and potentially losing the ball."
Warming agreed, saying in a
situation with the ball and the lead his team has to be more aware of where
they have the ball and what they are going to do with it.
"If you're going to lose the
ball, it has to be on the edges," he said. "It's too easy to counter attack
when you lose the ball in the middle. We could have played around the edges a
lot more. It's just the little things."
Penn State will have two full
days to make those adjustments before facing off with Santa Barbara at 9 p.m.
on Sunday with a trip to the round of 16 on the line.
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As his
parents looked on, Akil Howard smiled and hugged teammates at the edge of the celebration. Then
it was his turn. He took the Big Ten regular season championship trophy and
lifted it high above his shoulders, enjoying the moment.
Every Penn State athlete on
the field for the Nittany Lions' title-clinching victory, a 2-1 overtime
thriller over Northwestern on Oct. 27, had worked hard to be there. But no one
had endured quite as much as Howard: six years of soccer training, stops in two
countries and three states and, finally, a heart condition that sidelined him
for nearly a year.
"I would go through all of it
again right now," the redshirt senior defender said. "I'm in my senior year and
I would not change anything about it."
Penn State head coach Bob
Warming called Howard's journey "the best story in college sports."
It was late summer of 2011, and
everything was going well for Howard as he settled in at Penn State, his third
academic institution since graduating high school. Prior to training with the
Nittany Lions, all he needed was a sports physical exam, a simple and routine
This one wasn't very simple
Testing showed Howard's
electrocardiogram (EKG) was abnormal, and a subsequent ultrasound from the
sports medicine team at Penn State revealed his heart was thicker than normal.
He was quickly sent to Penn
State Hershey Hospital to see Assistant Professor of Medicine Eric Popjes and
undergo more exams. The testing at Hershey confirmed that the heart was too
thick, potentially hampering its ability to pump blood.
"He felt well and was doing
well," Popjes said, "and since he had no bad family history we asked him to sit
out for six months."
Nonetheless, the diagnosis
was hard for Howard to take. He had hoped to play in 2012, when he became NCAA
eligible at Penn State. Suddenly, he faced the possibility of never playing
soccer again, and even if he was cleared to play, he still faced the daunting
task of getting back into shape.
Howard second-guessed his soccer career for the first time in his life.
"When I heard from the doctor
in Hershey that I couldn't go and play right away it had me thinking a lot of
what else I could do besides soccer," Howard said. "I depended on just soccer
and the team and going out and playing every day as a part of bring me
"Sitting out and watching the
rest of the guys play was teasing me because they were out there playing and I
was not able to do much, even though I felt fine and didn't have any physical
Howard dealt with the
situation by staying close to the team, watching them train and play from the
sidelines. Anything that would allow him to stay connected to the game.
"He was right there on the
sidelines supporting us even though he really wanted to play," said Julian Cardona,
Howard's high school and college roommate. "He wanted us to win and it was good
to have his presence there even though he couldn't play."
When his six months were
finally up, Howard went back to Hershey to get retested by Popjes' team to see
if the heart thickness remained. Good news - it did not.
While the EKG was still
slightly abnormal, the heart thickness dissipated and the doctors cleared him
to play, while continuing to monitor him closely. He was required to monitor
his heart condition via a heart monitor device he had to wear 24/7, even during
practice on the soccer field.
"It was a little annoying at first, but with time I got used to wearing it,"
Howard said. "I had to wear it every time we trained and had to check my heart
rate while I was playing and during practice. It was an adjustment at first and
I had to continue to do it for a good season and a half."
The next few months weren't easy for Howard, but his life experiences
groomed him for such a challenge.
"It's no surprise he kept
going," said Cardona. "He just wants to play soccer and he's super gifted
athletically, but more importantly has the work ethic to push through."
Big City, No Distractions
Neil and Carine Howard saw
their son's love for soccer at an early age.
He slept with a soccer ball and dribbled throughout the house, putting
juke moves on pieces of furniture.
The Howards are natives of
the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent, where soccer is a mainstream sport. Upon
moving to the United States, they found a way to pass it down to their son
Akil, even while living in the Queens neighborhood of South Jamaica, a part of
New York City that isn't known for the game.
"Basketball is the number one
sport in my neighborhood," said Akil. "My father taught me soccer because that
is when he knew when he was growing up in the Caribbean. If it wasn't for my
mom and dad, I wouldn't be playing soccer right now."
As all four of Neil and Carine Howard's children did, Akil had his sights set
on succeeding in the classroom, as well as on the pitch.
"That was the plan from day
one," Neil Howard said. "That is what we expected it to be."
In fact, Neil laid out a very
specific, if simple, plan for Akil to reach soccer success: play as much as
possible, wherever possible.
Akil says the tight focus on
books and soccer kept him on the right path and out of trouble.
"I was lucky enough to have
(soccer) because there's so much other stuff like gang and drug-related
activity that could get you in trouble," he said.
During his first two years of
high school at Archbishop Malloy in Queens, he played for the New York Red
Bulls Academy club team.
The Red Bulls are based out
of northern New Jersey, so Howard was forced to trek through Manhattan during
the peak of rush hour multiple days a week just to get to practice. It was
school and soccer. Nothing else.
Then, at 16, Howard and his
parents decided he would go to Faribault, Minn., to play at Shattuck St. Mary's
prep school for his last two years of high school.
Howard chose Shattuck, a
United State Soccer Development Academy member, because of its heralded prep
soccer program, which has turned out many college and professional players.
Howard began to grow as a player during his time in Minnesota, especially in
the eyes of his teammate Cardona.
"He was a freak athlete,"
Cardona said. "He got really good at Shattuck with his left foot and in other
important areas that molded him into what he is today."
After two successful years at
Shattuck St. Mary's playing for the competitive U18 team starting as a 16-year
old, Howard's next move was to the University at Buffalo.
Despite having offers from a
number of Division I programs, Howard chose Buffalo because of its proximity
and because of the ability to get in-state tuition and more scholarship money.
But his stay was short. Following
his freshman year, Howard left the program to pursue a career elsewhere at a
more competitive soccer venue. This time, it
wasn't even in the United States.
It was in London.
Playing in the Cradle of Soccer
Howard traveled to England in
2010 to Richmond University in London to get a different type of feel for the
game of soccer, with hopes of playing professionally in Europe in the years to
The style was a little different in Europe in the way both coaches and players
approached the sport. Howard took that experience and put it in his back pocket
as he continued to diversify and deepen his soccer knowledge.
Through the Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy, Howard
was able to play youth teams like Villareal, Blackburn and Liverpool - the best of the best in Europe. And now he was living
a professional lifestyle.
"It was necessary (to play in
England) because I said if I want to play soccer professionally I'm not
necessarily going to be able to pick the team I go to," he said. "You're going
to get sent anywhere and you just have to adjust.
opened my eyes to a lot of what it is to be a professional. It made me know how
bad do you really want to play professionally and it showed what a career would
After his first year, Howard
decided he wanted to turn pro in Europe - but was denied his request to be
granted a working visa.
It was a moment of mixed
feelings for Howard. On one hand it was a setback, but on the other, a new
"I hit a point where I missed
home so much because of the time difference and I didn't have anyone there that
I knew," he said of his stay in England. "At times it felt really lonely and I
would call my parents and there was a five-hour time difference between England
and New York and it was tough because I felt alone a lot."
He began to consider the
alternatives, opportunities that would take him to State College. Through it
all, Howard continued to find a way to keep playing soccer. That's what
impressed the Nittany Lions' head coach.
"It's the two most important
things you should have figured out by the time you get out of college," Warming
said referring to Howard's journey.
"Chase your dreams and don't give up."
Getting Back, Getting Cleared (again), Getting a Degree
Upon his return to the
states, Howard chose Penn State because of the potential of playing at a
competitive Division I program. He walked on in 2011 and has since earned a
After his heart ailment, and
then being cleared for the start of the 2012 season, Howard had to get back in
game shape both mentally and physically. Retaining his physical shape wasn't
terribly difficult, but it was more difficult to get the mental processes back
after almost a year of not playing a real game and more than half of a year of
"I wasn't mentally ready for
the game when it came to speed of play," Howard said. "I sat out for so long
that when playing at a high level with the guys I was playing much slower than
"My feet weren't as fast
because my thinking process wasn't as quick as it needed to be and I was slow
on decision making as well."
With help from his teammates,
strength coaches and coaching staff Howard played his way back on to the field
in a limited way during the 2012 season. He appeared in 14 games notching three
points in 290 minutes of play, while starting in one match.
And his time on the sidelines
groomed him for his 2013 season.
"I was able to improve a lot
and build a lot of team chemistry with the guys for 2013," Howard said. "The
freshman back then are juniors now and we spent a lot of time together and the
chemistry is built up to the point where now we play very well together."
His time out and away from
the field clearly didn't help his case to get playing time in 2012, but Howard
didn't use it as an excuse. Following the spring semester last May, he went
down to Florida to play in a Professional Development League with Penn State
teammate Andrew Wolverton. The idea was to back into the flow of playing on a
consistent basis again, gearing up for a final collegiate season.
It was his last chance, after
spending two years at Penn State on the sidelines and in a reserve role. Howard
did everything he could to make sure he got on the pitch.
There was one thing he
couldn't control, though - a trip back to Hershey Medical Center to visit
Popjes and make sure everything was OK with his heart after playing on a daily
basis over the summer.
At first glance, Howard's EKG
again looked abnormal, so Popjes conducted an MRI of his heart in August.
Howard tried to stay calm.
"It didn't show a lot of
thickness in the heart muscle and the overall heart function looked OK," Popjes
said. "The MRI is the best way of measuring the thickness of the heart muscle
so we let him play again."
Finally, Howard had caught a
He paired with fellow
redshirt senior defender Martin Seiler and Wolverton to create a dominant
backline for Penn State, which led the Nittany Lions to a 5-1 record in
With just the NCAA Tournament
remaining, the Howards have begun to reflect on their son's up-and-down soccer
journey and its greatest reward.
While the fate of his senior
season is yet to be determined, his parents most want to see one single sheet
of paper: Howard's degree in psychology from Penn State University, something
that at one point in his life wasn't a certainty.
"That's what I am looking
forward to," Carine Howard said. "We didn't want him to come home without that
piece of paper. That's what our goal was and we were able to do it during
soccer and still get an education."
So, back to that Big Ten trophy,
the one that multiple times seemed like it would never be Howard's to lift. As
they watched the scene, it looked to Howard's parents as if all of their son's
trials and tribulations seemed non-existent.
"We are very proud of him,"
Carine Howard said. "It was a lot of hard work and dedication on his part. We
just tried to support him from the beginning to the end."
Like her son's coaches and
teammates, Carine knows the reason Akil has made it this far: his heart.
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
Pa. - With defending national champion Indiana (7-11-1, 2-4) looming in the Big
Ten Tournament semifinals, regular season conference champion Penn State (11-5-1,
5-1) has more than just a first-round bye to lean on before Friday's match.
Bob Warming's squad
not only is coming off a first-round bye, but they also are coming off their
weekend Big Ten regular season bye, which came in the last weekend of the
season. The fourth year head coach was able to give his players a couple extra
days off before preparing for either Michigan or Indiana. Indiana beat the
Wolverines on Wednesday, 2-1, in overtime in the quarterfinals and will have
one day to prepare for the Nittany Lions.
"We have now had an
extra day off and I think our guys truly needed it after two back-to-back
overtime really hard fought matches and the match at Penn before that," Warming
said. "The guys' legs were pretty beat up so I think it was good and they had a
chance to regenerate a little bit."
During that time
his team got to rest physically and mentally was able to prepare for what hopes
to be a long postseason run.
After being in a
similar situation one year ago as the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament and
then falling in the semifinals to Michigan State, the Nittany Lions have been
in this spot before and know what it takes to win on Friday.
"We took advantage
of the situation we had last year and this year we are really focused and we
all really want to win this game and this tournament in order to get a high
seed in the NCAA tournament," said goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton. "We are all
really focused going into this game."
While the seeding
was similar last year, Penn State had almost double the rest heading into the
semifinals one year ago and perhaps more importantly, didn't have the same
motivation they have this year should they be able to win the conference
It's more than
likely that if Penn State were to seal both the regular season and postseason
tournament titles, the Nittany Lions would open the first round of the NCAA
tournament at home. Warming said that if his team needed any added motivation,
that is it.
"Our guys in the
back of the mind now that they have the NCAA tournament at home," he said. "You
can't have a motivation that's higher than that motivation. That can't be
With all that said
and the fact that the Nittany Lions beat Friday's opponent Indiana in
Bloomington, Warming's main message to his team is that at this stage of the
season no opponent can be treated lightly.
Last year's team
learned that the hard way and Warming sent a clear message to his team before
leaving for Columbus to remind them of that.
"Everybody that you
play right now could be in the national championship match," Warming said.
"Every match is like a national championship match. The important point is that
if you want to win a national championship, win this match because this is the
type of teams you are going to have to play. If you came to Penn State to win national championships, perform in this
match like you would in the national championship game."
With that in mind,
senior defender Martin Seiler says he and his team are ready to begin their
postseason journey in Columbus on Friday at noon against the Hoosiers.
confident in what we can do. We also know that they're a good team," said
Seiler. "We are in a knockout stage right now. If you lose, you go home. We're
ready to go."
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
Pa. - Jordan Tyler waited for more than a year for a chance to get back to
where he was during the 2011 season. Tyler was sidelined for 2012 due to an ACL
injury and continued to get back to form over the past few weeks of Big Ten
In the biggest
match of the 2013 season, Tyler had another chance to prove how good he can be
and he did just that. With his team down 1-0 with under two minutes remaining,
Tyler was able to team up with sophomore Drew Klingenberg to net the game-tying
goal against No. 19 Northwestern.
Then, after a
scoreless first overtime session, Tyler took a centering feed from freshman Connor
Maloney and netted his fifth goal in seven matches to clinch Penn State's
second consecutive Big Ten title.
"Hats off to Connor
he was pressuring the defender and picked off a pass and from there it was a
2-on-2 and that is like a dream to have a 2-on-2 in double overtime to have a
chance to win the Big Ten," said Tyler. "I knew if Connor could beat his guy I
could get myself open for a nice pass and that's exactly what happened."
The end was fitting
because of the numerous storylines behind the win.
Not only did it
clinch another conference title, but it was also on Senior Day, which perhaps
was the most emotional part for Tyler. His two goals were able to send the
senior class off in proper fashion, the senior class that frankly he should be
a part of if it wasn't for his ACL injury.
"This is actually
supposed to be my last home game at Jeffrey Field," he said. "I'm fortunate
enough to get another year but it's a dream come true to win the Big Ten for
them on their Senior Day in their last game of their careers which was supposed
to have been my last game as well."
Tyler's two goals
had a lot of short and long-term implications for himself and his nationally ranked
It vaulted Tyler
into one of the Big Ten's top scorers, clinched another conference title, and it
continues to put the Nittany Lions in a good position for the postseason.
For head coach Bob
Warming, all of that culminates into the continual development of a program he
took over just four years ago.
"Last year was the
second time in 22 years that we won the Big Ten regular season championship and
now this is the third time in 23," Warming said.
Penn State probably
doesn't beat Northwestern, or lead the Big Ten, without it's uncanny knack to
stay positive after an early deficit.
It's something that
has resonated with Warming's teams in the past and defines this 2013 season.
Perhaps, the most important quality as the competition will only heighten for
Penn State moving forward.
"We were down one
goal again just like we were at West Virginia and Michigan State and we turned the
game around," said senior defender Martin Seiler. "It shows how much we want
Penn State will
have another tough task Tuesday night, this time on the road against Penn, who
currently sits atop the Ivy League standings.
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There will be a lot of
mixed emotions Sunday at Jeffrey Field when No. 13 Penn State hosts No. 19
Northwestern at 1 p.m. The Nittany Lions will host the Wildcats in their final
home game of the season.
Seniors Martin Seiler, Akil Howard, Grant
Warming and Micah Collins are set to be honored following the match.
It will be a special day for all four seniors,
especially for Seiler and Howard, who have embarked on two incredible journeys
that have spanned two continents prior to their senior season in Happy Valley.
The two defenders have bonded into a dynamic duo
on the back line for head coach Bob Warming.
"I don't think right now there are two better
more complementary senior center backs that I have seen in the country so far,"
he said. "Those two guys have grown and matured and are having a great senior
year because of the maturity and how much they have grown in the past few
As for the match itself, there is a lot on the
line for Penn State, who is undefeated in conference play. A win Sunday would
clinch their second consecutive Big Ten regular season title.
"It's going to be an exciting game for a lot of
reasons since it's our senior day and our last home game and being able to play
in front of our friends and family," said senior defender Akil Howard. "It's
against a ranked opponent and if we get the victory it will determine a Big Ten
championship. It's a lot more than just our last home game."
Warming knows what the day means for his group
of senior leaders, thus, putting the emphasis on the performance of his
It is a fitting way to approach his team's final
home game considering that is how much of the season has panned out for the
Nittany Lions. The play of Howard, Warming and Seiler has been a given and
combining that with numerous underclassmen that have stepped up in big matches,
Penn State has been able to take the next step.
Warming expects nothing to change Sunday, with
even more of a focus on the performance of his younger players.
"It's a fairly emotional time for the seniors
and I usually put it on the underclassmen to make sure that those guys get a
win," Warming said. "The pressure has to be on the underclassmen to get the
Northwestern comes into Jeffrey Field after
three consecutive ties, including a tie against No. 2-ranked Notre Dame on Oct.
15. The Wildcats, who shared the 2012 regular season conference title with Penn
State, have yet to drop a game on the road.
The last time Penn State and Northwestern played
each other, it was in Evanston on Northwestern's Senior Day in 2012 where Penn
State played spoiler in a double overtime 1-0 win.
Howard and his teammates are focused on not
allowing that to happen to them, not only because it's Senior Day, but more so
because of what's on the line.
"We are trying to finish the big ten on a strong
note and keep what we have going into the big ten tournament," said Howard.
"Beating a ranked opponent like Northwestern would be another confidence
booster for the guys."
Following Sunday's match, Penn State will have
three consecutive road matches, including a visit to Ohio State for the
conference finale on Nov. 2 before the Big Ten conference Tournament in
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There are a lot of reasons why the Penn State
men's soccer team (8-3-1, 3-0) currently sits atop the Big Ten with three conference
matches remaining. The most visible explanations are outstanding defense and
goaltending, the offense clicking at the right time and a mixture of team
chemistry and coaching.
The most underrated piece to their success? Yoga. Yes, yoga the word that
is defined as "a school of Hindu philosophy advocating and prescribing a course
of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material
world and union of the self with the supreme being or ultimate principle."
How in the world can that work with grown men playing collegiate soccer?
Somehow, it does.
Penn State participates in yoga once a week and has been doing so for more
than two full seasons now with Penn State Fitness Coordinator Jill Garrigan.
With how much focus they have to put on their on-field performance and
responsibilities in the classroom, the majority of players on the team laughed
and were very skeptical when head coach Bob Warming told them they would be
participating in yoga.
"The very first time we thought it was going to be a waste of time. We
said, 'why do we have to do Yoga?" said senior defender Akil Howard.
Now, for some, two years after partaking in yoga with Garrigan there is
It all started Warming, who participates in yoga himself, approaching
Garrigan about possibly implementing her yoga routine, one originally started
with the Penn State golf team.
Garrigan obliged, but knew right away she would have to convince the
Nittany Lion soccer players that yoga would actually be worth their time. Garrigan
said that only about 30 percent of the players had any interest at first.
Now, that number is nearly 100 percent.
What does Garrigan do that entices the players to participate? She makes
them view soccer and life in a different light through her yoga routine.
"I try to work with them not so much from the science standpoint but
more from an awareness standpoint," said Garrigan. "I try to get them to find
out how it feels to stop and pay attention to what they are doing. For some of them
it's just turning off the external simulation and what's tapping them on the
Garrigan focuses on the way athletes are wired and what their
expectations are. The speed at which they take things and how they approach
certain situations makes Garrigan ask the players to slow down and think about
what they are doing.
She asks them a variety of questions regarding spatial awareness and
slowing things down:
- Have you ever stopped to think and connect with what is coming at you?
- Does it feel good? Do you want to do it? Should you do it?
- When we stretch do you know where you back hand is? Do you ever think
These questions get the mental process moving for the players. It might
seem odd to ask 18 to 24-year-old men these questions, but it actually works.
Slowing things down and devising what is going on in front of them helps them
in grueling situations that they are presented with on the soccer field.
A glaring example for senior defender Martin Seiler is the loss against
Saint Francis, the team's only loss since Sep. 8.
"You might think it's easy to focus on the good and forget about the
bad, but it's not that easy," said Seiler. "We had a yoga session after the
game we lost against Saint Francis and everyone had their head down and in that
session she was talking about focusing on the good stuff and she helps us do
There is a physical aspect to it, as well. Just go to a home match at
Jeffrey Field and pay attention to what the Nittany Lions are doing after a match.
You will see foam rollers and yoga bands and that is how they recover.
That probably won't be seen at many other postgame routines in men's
college soccer, but for Penn State, it's working, so why stop?
The Nittany Lions head to East Lansing Sunday to face Michigan State
before returning home for Senior Day on Oct. 27 against Northwestern.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - If you had asked most Penn State men's soccer fans
how to best describe the Nittany Lions style of play prior to Friday night's
game against Michigan, you'd most likely hear it defined as a low-scoring,
grind-it-out approach to the game.
With four wins coming by the score of 1-0 this season, it's easy to
understand that thinking. However, the
Nittany Lions established a new kind of tempo on Friday against the Wolverines.
Playing on a damp Jeffrey Field, the Lions jumped out to a 1-0 lead early
in the first half before scoring two more unanswered goals in the second period
en route to an eventual 3-1 win for the Blue and White.
"I really enjoyed watching our goals tonight," said head coach Bob Warming.
"We had some great classic soccer goals and I enjoyed how we got them."
The first goal scored by Penn State came in way that the team hadn't seen
in a while. With the score deadlocked at
0-0 10 minutes into the game, a handball by the Wolverines inside of the
penalty box gave senior defender Martin Seiler the chance to shoot the Lions
first penalty kick of the year.
Seiler took advantage of the opportunity, directing Michigan goaltender Adam
Grinwis to the right before drilling the ball into the left side of the net.
"We've had games this year where we thought we should have gotten a penalty
kick but didn't," said Warming. "It was great to finally get one."
Following Seiler's goal, the Nittany Lions appeared to sticking to their
normal plan of action, as the score remained unchanged for the remainder of the
Then the second half began, and the Blue and White decided to turn it up a
notch, adding two more goals to match their season high and not allowing the
Wolverines on the scoreboard until after the game was already decided with just
under seven minutes left.
Junior midfielder Owen Griffith gave the Lion some cushion after he buried
a cross from freshman Connor Maloney two minutes into the half and senior Grant
Warming put the cherry on top when he added an insurance goal with just over 10
"Our team showed that we have a lot of grit and heart tonight," said
Griffith. "The field was wet and pretty chopped up but we just kept working."
While the junior was obviously pleased to score his second goal of the
season, the happiest player on the field at the end of the night was Warming.
Playing in his second to last home regular season game, the senior's goal marked
the first of his Penn State career.
"I've played a lot of games here so better late than never I guess," said Grant
Warming. "It feels incredible and I'm just proud to help my team out."
For his coach, who also happens to be his father, the goal was extra
special and a testament to the hard work and patience that he has displayed.
"It's been a big week for him, with a goal and two assists," said Warming.
"He's playing with a lot of confidence right now and he deserved that goal.
Coming off of an emotional 2-0 win over defending national champion
Indiana, it would have been easy for Penn State to come out against Michigan
with less focus.
Thanks to a pep talk from their coach, the Nittany Lions made sure that
they were locked in from the moment the whistle blew.
"Coach told us that after a huge win like we had (at Indiana) that it's
easy to have a drop off," said Griffith. "We needed to focus on the details and
we did that especially in the second half."
With their Big Ten record now at 3-0, the Nittany Lions now have all the
confidence in the world against their in-conference opponents.
The key now will be sustaining their momentum with five regular season
"I'm so proud of our guys right now," said Warming. "We're 3-0 in the conference
right now and feels terrific."
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
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.
The 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
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
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
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
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com 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.
It 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
"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
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
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.