Wolverton Standing Tall on New Stage
Sept. 14, 2011
By Jeff Sattora, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Wolverton, the 6'5" starting freshman goalie on the 4-1-0 Nittany Lions, has helped steady a once shaky defense and made the jump from high school to Division I soccer seem seamless for the Nittany Lions.
Wolverton talked about knowing what to expect in his jump to Division I, and mentioned how previous experiences have helped him along the way.
"I kind of knew somewhat with the experiences in the past from playing at some decent levels," Wolverton said about what to expect.
Decent levels seemed to be an understatement from the freshman, who was a two time state champion goalie in high school, as well as member of the Under-18 national soccer team before coming to Happy Valley.
The highly touted All- American recruit has really seemed to impress head coach Bob Warming early in the year, who is excited about the possibilities down the road.
"I think Andrew's made some big saves for us, really terrific saves, and very mature saves," Warming said of his young goalie. "The good news is I think he has more in him."
The head coach isn't the only one who has seen improvement in the recently named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, senior defender Matt Smallwood has also seen a step up in his freshman teammate.
"When he started you could obviously tell he was a little nervous, he was a freshman coming in here to a pretty big Division I program, but every game he's gained confidence," said Smallwood. "He's really improving."
Wolverton also was one to acknowledge changes in his game, as he talked about how much his game has changed from the high school fields in Georgia to the college ones in State College.
"I think I've improved with a lot of hard work, it's just everything, especially getting here and playing with the team is huge, seeing how the back four play," he said.
Wolverton realized the importance of hard work in his early high school club days when he actually lost the starting spot in goal. Standing on that Division I field today Wolverton said how that moment really made him push himself every day to always go harder, and helped him get to where he is now.
Four people who have seen and benefited from Wolverton's hard work are the Penn State back defensive players.
That back four, filled with three seniors and a junior, have been on some Penn State teams in the past who struggled in the goals against department. That has changed so far this year, with one of the biggest changes having one of the biggest guys on the field in net.
"He's a monster," said coach Warming, talking about his 6'5" freshman's height.
`His size his incredible," added Penn State assistant coach, Bo Oshoniyi, saying it is the one of Wolverton's biggest strengths early in his career.
Although the goalie is well known, and often first noticed, for his height, he talked about wanting to be known as an all-around player.
"I try to make my game as all-around as possible; I think you shouldn't necessarily focus on one particular thing, "Wolverton said. "In order to be the best you have to work on every single aspect."
One person who has helped make Wolverton into that better all-around goalie is assistant coach Oshoniyi, who works with the goalies.
Oshoniyi, the former Division II All-American goaltender has been vital to his young goalie's success, according to both Wolverton and Coach Warming.
Wolverton talked about how both coaches, Oshoniyi and Warming, have helped his game improve, adding that they knew things he would never have thought of, which has made him a better student of the game.
"Bo is such a calm man, I think that's helped Andrew be calm in the goal," Warming added.
Oshoniyi can also be added to the list of people who likes what he has seen so far from his goalie.
"I think right away he's come in and he's done well, he's gaining confidence in the group, especially with the back four," Oshoniyi said. "I think they believe in him and he's been able to do pretty well."
"He's no longer a freshman, he's a Penn State soccer player," Coach Warming said after Wolverton's fourth shutout in five games.
Looking at the numbers so far Wolverton isn't just any Penn State soccer player; he is a good one.