Men's Soccer Looks to Clinch Big Ten Regular Season Title This Week on the Road
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; October 19, 2005 - Riding a three-game winning streak and coming off back-to-back thrilling overtime victories, Penn State (6-6-2, 4-0-0) heads into a week of play that features a contest versus a non-conference opponent and a game that could clinch the Nittany Lions the Big Ten regular season title. On Wed., Oct. 18, Penn State will take on Cornell (3-5-2) in Ithaca, N. Y. in a game scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET. The Lions will then travel to East Lansing, Mich. to put their undefeated and untied Big Ten record on the line against Michigan State (5-3-5) on Sun., Oct. 23. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET.
Penn State is positioned alone atop the Big Ten standings with 12 points and possesses a four-point lead over second-place Indiana. With only one conference game left on their schedule, the Hoosiers (2-1-2) cannot catch Penn State. The lone remaining threat to the Nittany Lions' title hopes is Sunday's opponent, Michigan State (2-1-1). The Spartans are in third place with seven points with two league games remaining on their schedule. Therefore, if the Lions earn a win against or tie Michigan State, they will bring home the program's first-ever outright Big Ten regular season championship. With the title, Penn State will also gain a first round bye for the Big Ten Championship. This year's tournament will be hosted by Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill from Nov. 10 through Nov. 13.
In Penn State's last game, junior forward Simon Omekanda (Rochester Hills, Mich.) preserved the Nittany Lions' unblemished Big Ten mark when he scored 3:32 into the second overtime to propel the Lions to a win over Ohio State on Oct. 16. Brian Devlin (Philadelphia, Pa.) earned an assist on the golden goal. One week earlier, the roles were reversed, as Devlin notched the overtime game-winner versus Wisconsin with an assist from Omekanda. The victory over the Buckeyes gave Penn State its fourth Big Ten win of the season, equaling the highest number in program history, with two league games still left to play.
Next week, the Nittany Lions play the first two contests of a three-game home stand when American University and Michigan visit Happy Valley. On Wed., Oct. 26, Penn State will battle the American Eagles at 7:00 p.m. at Jeffrey Field. The two teams last met in 2001, when Penn State downed American, 2-1, in Washington D.C. The Lions will then face Big Ten foe Michigan on Sun., Oct. 30 at 1:00 p.m. A year ago, Penn State and Michigan tied 0-0.
Penn State heads to Ithaca, N.Y. to match-up with Cornell (3-5-2) for the second consecutive year. The Big Red was in the midst of a two-game winning streak, downing Harvard and Penn, before stumbling in its last outing versus Ivy League opponent Yale, 2-0. Senior midfielder Kuda Wekwete is Cornell's top goal scorer, tallying four this season. Fellow senior Pape Saye has added three goals. Four players lead the team in assists with two. Goalkeeper Steve Lesser has allowed 15 goals in 10 games and has 47 saves to his credit. Cornell has been outscored 15-12 and outshot 135-115 by its opponents this season.
2005 common opponents to date: None
Head coach: Bryan Scales, Eighth Year, 49-63-12
The series: In a series that dates back to 1920, Penn State holds a 7-2-3 all-time record versus Cornell.
Last meeting: In 2004, the Nittany Lions blanked the Big Red, 3-0, at Jeffrey Field. Goals by Anthony Calvano, Richard Costanzo, and Yan Carvalho highlighted the win.
Scouting Michigan State
With no other games on the schedule this week for Michigan State, the 5-3-5 (2-1-1) Spartans have a week to prepare for first-place Penn State. Michigan State possesses the Big Ten's top goal scorer in senior midfielder Ryan McMahen and one of its hottest goalkeepers in junior Jason Tillman. McMahen has seven goals to his credit in 2005 and has added five assists. Tillman, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, has not allowed a goal in 340:59. Michigan State is the least penalized team in the Big Ten, positioned last in the conference in both fouls and yellow cards. The Spartans are 4-1-2 this season at Old College Field.
2005 common opponents to date: Indiana (Penn State W, 2-1 (OT); Michigan State T, 0-0), Northwestern (Penn State W, 4-1; Michigan State L, 2-0), Ohio State (Penn State W, 1-0 (2OT); Michigan State W, 2-0).
Head coach: Joe Baum, 29th Year, 283-207-46
The series: Penn State possesses a 12-7-0 series record against Michigan State, with the teams splitting their last eight meetings. The Lions are 4-3 all-time at East Lansing.
Last meeting: On Oct. 24, 2004, Penn State topped Michigan State, 1-0, in double overtime at Jeffrey Field. Midfielder Jeff Chambers scored the game winner for the Nittany Lions.
Follow the action
Live stats and instant scoring updates will be available for the Michigan State game. Find the link on Penn State's Official Athletic Website, www.GoPSUsports.com.