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Nov. 19, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's soccer enjoyed a historic campaign this autumn, returning to the top of the Big Ten standings while benefitting from numerous outstanding individual efforts from players off and on the field.
The highlight for the club was assuredly capturing the 2012 Big Ten regular season championship, earning a share of the crown with Northwestern. The title was significant not just because it was the first for the program since 2005, but because it followed the 2011 season in which Penn State was held winless in regular-season conference clashes. The Nittany Lions regrouped in the offseason and battled to a 3-1-2 finish in the Big Ten this fall while posting an undefeated ledger (2-0-1) on the road, including a monumental double overtime victory against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., Oct. 21. The loss was the first for the Wildcats in Big Ten play since Nov. 11, 2010, a 3-1 loss to Penn State in the opening round of the conference tournament.
Mirroring the team's rise to the top of the regular-season conference standings, Penn State led the league with six All-Big Ten selections. Seniors Jacob Barron (La Mirada, Calif.) and John Gallagher (Pine Bush, N.Y.) landed on the first team while classmates Julian Cardona (Lincoln, Neb.) and Hasani Sinclair (Coral Gables, Fla.), along with sophomores Owen Griffith (Lewisburg, Pa.) and Andrew Wolverton (Snellville, Ga.), left a Blue and White mark on the second team list. In addition, rookie Drew Klingenberg (Gibsonia, Pa.) earned All-Freshman team honors and Daniel Burnham (Boise, Idaho) was named a Big Ten Sportsmanship Honoree.
Cardona, who was also named to the Capital One Academic All-District team, finished the regular season fourth in the conference in points (14) and third in goals (6), while Burnham and Marvin Ledgister (London, England) finished closely in goals at fifth (4) and 10th (3), respectively. Sinclair excelled in Big Ten action and wrapped up the season in seventh in assists (4). Minh Vu (Tuscon, Ariz.) and Gallagher each posted three assists, while Burnham, Cardona, Griffith and Klingenberg added a pair of helpers.
Defensively, the back line, anchored by seniors Gallagher and Brian Forgue (Glenmoore, Pa.), limited opposing offenses to just 53 shots in the regular season, fewest in the league. Wolverton took care of the remaining chances, leading the Big Ten with an .833 save percentage while posting a conference-best 0.49 goals against average.
In just his third year at the helm of the Nittany Lions, head coach Bob Warming picked up Big Ten Coach of the Year honors for his part in the championship campaign. The award is the first for Warming, who was a three-time Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year (1992, 1993, 2008) while at Creighton and is a six-time finalist for NCAA Division I National Coach of the Year honors.
The Nittany Lions saved their best play for Big Ten opponents and it showed statistically as the team finished at the top of the regular-season conference standings in goals (9) and shots (16.33 per game), second in points (29) and assists (11), and last in fouls and saves, the mark of a disciplined defensive squad.
The fans did their job at Jeffrey Field this season as well, packing the stands each match to finish with the highest average attendance (2,021) in league play. Over the course of the season, the team saw more than 16,000 fans in the stadium, including a season-high 4,292 against Duquesne Aug. 31. The strong support helped Penn State achieve a 7-2-2 ledger at home, the best winning percentage (.727) among Big Ten teams.
September was an especially successful month for the team as it logged a phenomenal shutout streak that spanned 505:56 minutes, 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 Lehigh.
Jeffrey Field enjoyed improvements to the already-outstanding facilities over the last six months. In addition to installing a unique outdoor performance center located at the training grounds next to the field, both the men's and women's programs made use of separate, brand new team buildings under the bleachers. Most recently, the men's building received a bit of technology: a six-foot monitor with a touchscreen overlay that allows for more interactive demonstrations while watching game footage, enabling more effective coaching from head coach Warming and assistants Chad Duernberger and Bo Oshoniyi.