Penn State Clashes with Northwestern Sunday
Oct. 19, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's soccer returns to Big Ten action Sunday as the team heads to Evanston, Ill., to take on No. 21 Northwestern. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. The Wildcats (10-2-2, 3-0-0 B1G) currently sit atop the conference standings alongside Indiana, while the Nittany Lions (8-4-2, 2-1-1 B1G) follow in third place.
ON THE HORIZON
A LOOK AT THE WILDCATS
Senior midfielder Chris Ritter paces the Northwestern attack with 15 points off five goals and five assists. First-year forward Joey Calistri follows closely with 14 points on the strength of a team-leading six goals and a pair of assists. Ritter and Calistri rank second and third in point in the Big Ten, respectively. Sophomore midfielder Grant Wilson has been an outstanding setup man this autumn, accumulating six assists, good for second in the Big Ten. Sophomore Tyler Miller has been the lone goalkeeper for the Wildcats this season, racking up 1,320 minutes. Miller owns a 0.82 GAA with 38 saves and places second in the Big Ten with six shutouts.
Tim Lenahan, the 2011 Big Ten Coach of the Year, leads the Wildcats in his 12th season at the helm of the program. The Purple and White have not lost a conference match since falling to Penn State, 3-1, Nov. 11, 2010, in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
A HISTORY OF THE SERIES
Starting with the teams' first meeting in 1991, Penn State won 17-consecutive matches before a 2-2 tie in 2004 in Evanston. Since then the series has been in a deadlock at 5-5-2. In his first season at Penn State, head coach Bob Warming guided his 2010 team to a 1-1 tie during the regular season before improving for a 3-1 win in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
STATE OF THE UNION
Penn State has risen to the top half of the leaderboard as well, sitting in third place with a 2-1-1 record in conference play. The Nittany Lions are trailed by Michigan (1-2-1), Wisconsin (1-2-0) and Michigan State (1-2-0) in fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. Ohio State rounds out the group in seventh at 0-4-0.
The weekend features a pair of Big Ten matchups outside the NU/PSU showdown. Indiana hosts Michigan Friday evening, while Wisconsin travels to take on Michigan State Sunday afternoon. Ohio State hosts in-state foe Wright State Friday in an out-of-conference tussle.
Senior Julian Cardona (Lincoln, Neb.) has been a force on the attack this season, tallying 12 points on five goals and two assists. Those numbers have the Nebraska native sitting in fourth in points and third in goals in the Big Ten. Classmate Minh Vu (Tuscon, Ariz.) leads the team and is tied for seventh in the Big Ten in assists (3), while Cardona, John Gallagher (Pine Bush, N.Y.), Drew Klingenberg (Gibsonia, Pa.), Hasani Sinclair (Coral Gables, Fla.) and Daniel Burnham (Boise, Idaho) have added a pair of helpers. Burnham's trio of goals this season has him tied for seventh in the conference. Multiple Nittany Lions have contributed to the offensive success as 14 players have recorded a point, including nine with goals.
Defensively, the Nittany Lions have allowed just 39 shots on goal, fewest in the Big Ten. Senior Emmanuel Martin (Cormontreuil, France) has taken the bulk of the minutes in goal (698) and carries a 0.90 GAA through eight starts. Sophomore Andrew Wolverton (Snellville, Ga.) has allowed just four goals in just over 600 minutes of play, recording 14 saves in five starts. Wolverton ranks second in the Big Ten in save percentage (.778) and GAA (0.59).
The Nittany Lions have only been held under 10 shots once this season, Sept. 2 against Georgetown, and have led in that category in 11 of 14 contests. In total, the team is outshooting opponents, 222-128, in 2012, along with an 82-39 advantage in shots on goal.
THE RISE OF AN ARMY
The seven Big Ten teams have combined for nearly 60,000 fans at 52 home games this season.
Midfielders Jacob Barron (La Mirada, Calif.) and Owen Griffith (Lewisburg, Pa.) have been mainstays, as well, combining to play 2,265 of a possible 2,630 minutes this season. The captain group of Barron, Forgue, Gallagher and Griffith has combined to play 4,521 of a possible 5,260 minutes.
ODDS AND ENDS
Cheney and redshirt-freshman Kyle MacDonald (Yardley, Pa.) recorded their first collegiate points on the same play in the 3-0 win over Adelphi. MacDonald notched an assist on Cheney's scoring strike in the second half. First-year goalkeeper Danny Sheerin (College Park, Md.) made his first appearance against the Panthers, guarding the net for the final nine minutes of the shutout. Klingenberg opened his collegiate account with an assist on Cheney's gamewinner against Wisconsin Sept. 21.
ALL YOU NEED IS ONE
Six of the eight Penn State wins have been decided by one-goal differentials.
Senior Brian Forgue anchored the defense every minute of the run, while classmate John Gallagher was off the field just over a minute. Freshman Shane Campbell and junior Martin Seiler helped suffocate opponents' attacks the majority of the duration on the back line alongside Forgue and Gallagher. Three keepers, Emmanuel Martin, Andrew Wolverton and Danny Sheerin, spent time in goal for Penn State, combining to stop the 12 shots.
Owen Griffith, a sophomore defender, was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Sept. 10 after helping the Nittany Lions shut out West Virginia in a scoreless draw Sept. 6. Senior defender Brian Forgue picked up the first Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors of the season Aug. 27 following a 3-0 victory over Stetson in the campaign-opener. Classmate Julian Cardona garnered a spot on the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week the same day after his two-goal performance against the Hatters.
Numerous players have also landed on all-tournament teams after the WVU Nike Classic, co-hosted by West Virginia and Penn State, and the Class of `98 Invitational, co-hosted with Bucknell, in which the Nittany Lions finished a combined 4-0-0.