The weakness for the Penn State men’s soccer team heading into the season has suddenly turned into a strength.
After a dramatic win Monday night, the Nittany Lions (2-0-0) will return to Jeffrey Field on Friday night at 8 p.m. against Duquesne (1-1-0).
The team will look to stay sharp after the three-day break.
“We have to stay focused,” senior defender Martin Seiler said. “There will be a little more resting time so we have to do a good job in getting our legs up.”
The Lions’ early season success has been fueled by the offense. The team has scored six goals in two games, three each against both Stetson and Hartford.
Leading the offensive charge has been senior midfielder Julian Cardona, who was named to the TopDrawerSoccer.com’s National Team of the Week list last week. The senior scored two goals against Hartford on Monday night to equal his total of four from last season.
Cardona says that his hot start to the season has been a whole team effort and that the play of senior attacker Minh Vu has been key for him getting chances to score. Vu assisted on Cardona’s first goal against Hartford and also won the penalty that Cardona converted to make it 2-1.
The Lions’ offense will try to take advantage of a Duquesne defense that struggled against Niagara’s attack last game. The Dukes lost 4-2 at home on Sunday with their defense giving up four goals on 11 shots.
While the Lions have been more of a second-half team, a fast start could be key against the Dukes, a team that has out-scored opponents 5-1 in the second half.
Like Hartford, the Dukes are inexperienced in net. Sophomore goalkeeper Sasa Miskovic, who had one career appearance coming into the season, was pulled after allowing three goals in the first half against Niagara. The second half saw freshman goalie Sam Frymier make his debut, he made one save on two shots faced.
The Lions defense will face an experienced Dukes attack in senior Joshua Patterson and junior Simon Gomez. Patterson has two goals and an assist this season, while Gomez has a goal and an assist.
After a one-day break in between the first two games, the Lions have to make sure they come out strong on the defensive end.
While Lions starting goalie Andrew Wolverton attempts to get fit and start his season, goalie Emmanuel Martin will likely start his third game, assuming Wolverton can’t go. The senior transfer from Cormontreuil, France has allowed two goals this season.
Martin says he feels confident and focused in net to start the year.
The Lions have not won their first three games to start the season since the 2000-2001 season when they defeated Vermont, New Hampshire and Saint Bonaventure.
“We want to have three wins on the paper on Friday,” Seiler said. “We have to start that now.”