Penn State Faces Michigan State in Big Ten Semifinals
Nov. 8, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's soccer team will face Michigan State in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament at 1 p.m. ET in Evanston, Ill. The fifth-seeded Spartans bounced third-seeded Indiana, 2-1, Wednesday afternoon to advance to take on the No. 1 seed Nittany Lions. Penn State aims to collect its fourth Big Ten tournament championship after finishing atop the regular-season standings alongside Northwestern.
Both semifinal clashes and the championship game will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.
Penn State (9-4-3, 3-1-2 B1G) has not lost since Oct. 10, collecting three wins and a tie in the four-game span to end the regular season. The unbeaten streak began with a 2-1 victory over Michigan State (9-9-1, 3-3-0 B1G) at home Oct. 14.
A LOOK AT THE SPARTANS
Junior Zach Bennett and freshman Bryce Dobbins have split time in goal this fall. Bennett leads the two with a 0.78 GAA and three shutouts in nine starts in 2012.
Head coach Damon Rensing is in his fourth year at the helm of the Spartan soccer program. Rensing led the squad to the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament two years ago. A four-time letterwinner at Michigan State, Rensing was an assistant under long-time head coach Joe Baum for 10 years, helping the team to the 2004 and 2008 Big Ten Tournament championships and four NCAA tournament bids.
A HISTORY OF THE SERIES
Penn State leads the all-time series with Michigan State, 19-9-2, in 30 meetings. The Nittany Lions downed the Spartans, 2-1, at Jeffrey Field earlier this season. Before the Spartans claimed a 1-0 victory in 2011, the Nittany Lions won three-consecutive meetings from 2009-10, including a 3-0 win in the semifinals of the 2009 Big Ten Tournament. Head coach Bob Warming is 2-1-0 against Michigan State after winning his first contest against them in 2010, 2-1, in University Park.
LAST TIME OUT
The Big Ten regular-season crown is the first for head coach Bob Warming in just his third year at the helm of the Penn State program. Most recently, Barry Gorman's 2005 Nittany Lion squad capped an undefeated, 6-0-0 Big Ten slate before downing Michigan State and Indiana to claim the conference tournament title. The 2005 Big Ten tournament also took place in Evanston.
The race for the championship came down to the final weekend of play as five of the seven teams finished with three victories in Big Ten matches.
NITTANY LIONS IN THE BIG TEN TOURNAMENT
In all, Penn State is 28-15-4 in Big Ten tournament play, standing as just one of two conference teams to own a winning record in the postseason event.
The last time Penn State and Michigan State met in the tournament was 2009, as the Nittany Lions advanced to the final clash with a 3-0 win over the Spartans. The clubs have met eight times in the tournament with Penn State claiming a 6-1-1 advantage. The first meeting resulted in a 5-0 PSU win in 1992.
Senior Julian Cardona (Lincoln, Neb.) has been a force on the attack this season, tallying 14 points on six goals and two assists. Those numbers have the Nebraska native sitting in fourth in points and third in goals in the Big Ten. Hasani Sinclair (Coral Gables, Fla.) leads the team and is tied for seventh in assists with four this season after picking up two against Ohio State. Minh Vu (Tuscon, Ariz.) and John Gallagher (Pine Bush, N.Y.) have each posted three assists, while Daniel Burnham (Boise, Idaho), Cardona, Owen Griffith (Lewisburg, Pa.) and Drew Klingenberg (Gibsonia, Pa.) have added a pair of helpers. Burnham's four goals this season has him tied for sixth in the conference. Multiple Nittany Lions have contributed to the offensive success as 15 players have recorded a point, including 11 with goals.
Defensively, the Nittany Lions have allowed just 53 shots on goal, fewest in the Big Ten. Sophomore Andrew Wolverton (Snellville, Ga.) has allowed just four goals in more than 700 minutes of play and leads the Big Ten with a 0.49 GAA after recording 20 saves in nine games. Wolverton also tops the Big Ten in save percentage (.833). Senior Emmanuel Martin (Cormontreuil, France) has taken 788 minutes in goal on the way to a 1.26 GAA in nine starts.
THE RISE OF AN ARMY
The seven Big Ten teams combined for over 74,000 fans at 70 home contests this season.
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
Seven of the nine 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.
For his game-winning goal in the second overtime period against Northwestern Oct. 21, Hasani Sinclair was named Player of the Week by Philly Soccer News.
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.