Freshmen Trio Spark Nittany Lions to Victory

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Connor Maloney

Sept. 18, 2013

By Matt Allibone, Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off of a three-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."




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