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Sept. 23, 2013
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com 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.