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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
Following the contest with Northwestern, Penn State returns home to face Ohio State Oct. 28. The 1 p.m. match is the home finale for the Nittany Lions, who have compiled a superb 7-2-1 record at Jeffrey Field this season. The team will celebrate its 10 seniors during a Senior Day ceremony before the tilt with the Buckeyes. The Lions wrap up the 2012 regular season with an Oct. 31 showdown with Penn in Philadelphia.
A LOOK AT THE WILDCATS
Defending Big Ten champion Northwestern has continued its success in conference play this season, storming to a 3-0-0 start. The Wildcats have posted strong results out of conference as well, earning a 10-2-2 record. The squad enters the weekend winners of four of its past five contests, including a 2-1 victory over No. 7 Notre Dame.
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
Historically, the Nittany Lions have controlled the series with Northwestern, building a 22-5-3 advantage. The Wildcats secured two of their five wins last season, downing Penn State, 1-0, in University Park during the regular season before rallying from behind to claim a 2-1 win in the Big Ten tournament championship clash. The regular-season victory was the first for Northwestern at Jeffrey Field.
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
Indiana and Northwestern both produced quick starts, winning their first three Big Ten contests, to tie for the lead in the conference. The Hoosiers and Wildcats currently own identical overall records of 10-2-2, as well. The two leaders are set for a Nov. 1 match in Bloomington, Ind., to close the regular season.
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.
Penn State has allowed just 11 goals this season and trails only Indiana (8) in that category. The Nittany Lions are also tied for second behind the Hoosiers with six shutouts. The Lions have posted strong offensive numbers as well, landing in third in assists (18), while accumulating 18 goals and 54 points. The team leads the conference with 15.86 shots per game.
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
Penn State ranks second in the Big Ten in attendance this season, averaging over 1,500 fans per game at Jeffrey Field. The support has helped the Nittany Lions achieve a 7-2-1 record at home.
The seven Big Ten teams have combined for nearly 60,000 fans at 52 home games this season.
Penn State has enjoyed consistency on its back line this autumn, as seniors Brian Forgue (Glenmoore, Pa.) and John Gallagher, junior Martin Seiler (Stuttgart, Germany) and freshman Shane Campbell (York, Pa.) have played a total of 4,256 of a possible 5,260 minutes. Forgue leads the way after directing the defense for 1,252 minutes from the center back position, while Seiler has logged 1,051 minutes alongside Forgue in the middle of the formation.
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
The Lions are:
7-2-1 at Jeffrey Field
8-2-1 when leading in shots
4-0-0 when the team posts 20 or more shots
7-2-1 when allowing 10 or fewer shots
6-0-0 when allowing two or fewer shots on goal
5-0-0 when scoring two or more goals
3-1-1 when scoring one goal
4-1-0 when attendance numbers top 1,000
0-1-2 when the game reaches overtime
7-1-1 when leading in corner kicks
3-0-0 this season when Julian Cardona finds the back of the net and 5-1-0 when he registers two or more shots
7-1-1 when Daniel Burnham records two or more shots
Head coach Bob Warming has not hesitated to infuse his team with youth this season as seven freshmen have logged minutes on the field. Rookie Shane Campbell has started nine games on the back line this season, while classmates Drew Klingenberg (Gibsonia, Pa.) and Kelton Cheney (State College, Pa.) received their first starts against Adelphi Sept. 16 and Lehigh Sept. 25, respectively.
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
Three of the Nittany Lions' eight victories have come in 1-0 fashion this season, including the team's victory against Wisconsin Sept. 21. Penn State also knocked off Albany and Duquesne by a 1-0 margin.
Six of the eight Penn State wins have been decided by one-goal differentials.
The phenomenal scoreless streak by the Penn State defense came to an end in the final minute of the contest against Lehigh Sept. 25 after climbing to 505:56 minutes of on-field time, the longest streak of such in the Big Ten this season. Starting with a goal in the 54th minute of the contest against Georgetown Sept. 2, the Nittany Lions allowed just 12 shots on goal while pitching shutouts in four-consecutive matches, including a 110-minute marathon against West Virginia Sept. 6. The team finished 3-0-1 in that span, outscoring opponents, 5-0, before facing the Mountain Hawks.
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.
Penn State players have collected multiple individual accolades this season, including a pair of Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week awards.
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.
The men's soccer program has its own Twitter account for the first season this year! Be sure to follow @PennStateMSOC, along with all of the Penn State athletics accounts, to get the most up-to-date and behind the scenes information. Join the Nittany Lions fans on Facebook as well, at Facebook.com/PennStateMensSoccer.