No. 22 Nittany Lions Visit Big Ten Foe Wisconsin for Final Regular Season Game
Nov. 4, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 22 Penn State men's soccer team will finish out both its 2010 Big Ten and regular season schedules on Saturday evening when it takes on Wisconsin (3-12-2, 0-4-1) in an 8 p.m. ET contest at the McClimon Soccer Complex in Madison. Riding a three-game winning streak and in the midst a four-game unbeaten stretch, the Nittany Lions have re-appeared in all four of the national polls and have moved up to a Big Ten-best No. 8 in the all-important RPI rankings.
At stake for the Nittany Lions on Saturday is seeding position in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, with Nos. 2 through No. 5 remaining a possibility. With seven points and a 2-2-1 record in conference play, Penn State (11-5-1) currently sits in a fourth place tie with Northwestern in the Big Ten standings. Indiana clinched the regular season title and the tournament's No. 1 seed last weekend, while Michigan State and Wisconsin are locked in as the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds, respectively.
Despite playing without the nation's top scoring tandem of Corey Hertzog (Reading, Pa.) and Matheus Braga (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), which entered the contest accounting for 55 of the team's 107 points, Penn State picked up a 1-0 road win over Lafayette on Tuesday night. The Lions got just enough from their makeshift offense and used a stifling second half defensive performance to claim victory in their final non-conference contest of 2010.
In his second start of the season, sophomore forward Daniel Burnham (Boise, Idaho) scored his first goal as a Nittany Lion to lead PSU, finding net in the eighth minute. Junior defender Matt Smallwood (Cochranville, Pa.) and junior midfielder Mackenzie Arment (Manheim, Pa.) earned assists on the game winner. Anchoring a defense that held Lafayette without a shot in the second half, redshirt freshman goalkeeper Brendan Birmingham (West Chester, Pa.) needed to make only one save in 90 minutes to secure his second and the team's sixth shutout of the season.
In addition to Big Ten tournament seeding, the individual conference scoring title remains undecided heading into the final weekend of regular season play. Corey Hertzog, who currently has 14 goals and 32 assists, is one goal and one point behind league leader Will Bruin of Indiana. With 92, Hertzog is also just four shots shy of breaking the Penn State single season program record held by Hermann Trophy winner Jim Stamatis for the last 33 years. Matheus Braga continues to lead the Big Ten in assists with 12 while Mackenzie Arment is tied for second with eight.
Under first-year head coach John Trask, Wisconsin has experienced its share of close calls this season, with 11 of its 12 losses coming by one goal. However, the Badgers' have markedly improved in recent weeks, winning two of their last three games, both at home, and scoring nine of their 17 total goals in their last five contests. Despite its overall record, Wisconsin has put together several strong performances in 2010, including a 1-0 overtime loss to No. 10 Creighton in Omaha and a 1-1 draw with Big Ten regular season champion Indiana in Bloomington.
Freshman forward Chris Prince has stepped to the forefront to lead the Wisconsin offense, scoring a team-high seven goals. In back-to-back 4-3 losses to Northwestern and Wisconsin-Green Bay, he scored a total of five goals, including his first career hat trick versus the Wildcats, to earn Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors. Only two other players, Joey Tennyson (3) and Aaron Nichols (2) have netted multiple goals. Another freshman, Nick Janus, tops the Badgers with three assists.
The Wisconsin defense has surrendered a Big Ten-high 27 goals but has allowed only one total in the last three games. Freshman goalkeeper Max Jentsch has started the five prior contests, recording two shutouts while compiling a 1.68 goals against average.
Penn State owns a 12-9-2 series record versus Wisconsin, including last season's 2-1 win at Jeffrey Field. Despite their overall winning mark versus the Badgers, the Nittany Lions have fallen on hard times on trips to Madison in recent years, dropping their last four visits while being outscored, 12-5. Working against that trend is Penn State's stellar 4-1-1 record in true road games this season (6-1-1 in all games away from home).
Fans can follow all of the action of the Penn State-Wisconsin match on the Internet with live stats and instant scoring updates from GameTracker. Find a link on the official website of Nittany Lion athletics, www.GoPSUsports.com.
Next week, Penn State will begin pursuit of its fourth conference crown when it competes as host team of the 2010 Big Ten Men's Soccer Tournament. The battle for the 2010 title is set to begin on Thurs., Nov. 11 with three first round matches. Semifinal games will take place on Fri., Nov. 12 with the championship contest set for Sun., Nov. 14. All games will be played at Jeffrey Field in the heart of the Penn State athletic complex on the University Park campus. Game times and match-ups will be determined once seeding is established upon the conclusion of regular season competition. The semifinals and finals will air live on the Big Ten Network. Penn State possesses a 24-13-4 record in Big Ten Championship play, one of just two conference teams to possess a winning mark in the postseason tournament.
PENN STATE TO HOST 2010 BIG TEN MEN'S SOCCER TOURNAMENT