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By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - New faces shined for the Penn State Nittany Lions (2-6-2, 0-4-0 B1G) during their conference campaign against the Michigan Wolverines (6-3-2, 3-1-1 B1G) on Sunday afternoon. Although the 2-1 double overtime scoreboard did not fall in the Blue and White's favor, the fans and players left Jeffrey Field feeling confident in the future of the men's soccer program.
"Whether you are 10-0 or 0-10 you want the same things out of your players," said head coach Bob Warming. "The same qualities that they receive from participating in Penn State athletics and that is you do the best you can and you never stop fighting, you never stop...they did that today. They did the best they could today and they never stopped fighting."
From the onset, new numbers dawned in Penn State's lineup as redshirt freshman Josh Levine took over the backline for Evan Finney. Levine suited up in the typical neon goalie garb for the first time in his Nittany Lion career.
"It was a great feeling," said Levine. "I'm really excited. I'm happy I got the opportunity but it wasn't really about me today. It was about my teammates, it was a great showing from them, showed a lot of heart, showed a lot of hustle. A lot of guys had some good performances like I said it's not about me it's about the 4 defenders in front of me...but it's a great experience and one I'll never forget."
Like mentor Finney, the young goalkeeper took command of the box as he dominated the line for 13 corner kicks and nine saves on the day.
"Evan is an absolute great mentor," said Levine. "From the first second I stepped on campus, he's always been there as the older guy on the team and he's a leader and he's a guy who brings it to training everyday and he pushes all of us and he demands a lot and he wants the best from all of us."
"Josh has just continued to improve ever since he got on campus," said Warming. "He's worked hard. He is one of the most positive guys we have in the whole program. He's a great teammate and he did some very good play today."
Although a familiar face leading Penn State's offensive efforts as the starting forward, Ethan Beckford also emerged to secure his first goal dawning a Blue and White uniform.
"He just had a great couple of days in training of finding the net again and got him energized," said Warming. "He was finding the net in training and once a striker starts scoring goals everything is good so we just got to keep that confidence going."
Beckford was serviced by teammate Christian Sload as his head found the ball within the six to place it in the middle of the net.
"I was just working on putting the ball in the back of the net," said Beckford. "Its been awhile since I put the ball in the back of the net so just being repetitive and putting the ball in the back of the net was what made me score today."
The Penn State Nittany Lions hope to continue to improve through the leadership of their veterans and the development of their younger players. Before a 4-game away campaign, the Nittany Lions will look to build momentum at home this Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Indiana Hoosiers.
"We've come together as a team a lot more in these past weeks so I think the game against Indiana I think we are going to put up a strong performance," said Beckford.
For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.