After a break of more than a week, the Penn State men’s soccer team is well-rested and looking forward to a two-game weekend slate at Jeffrey Field.
In a season filled with short, energy-draining turnarounds, the eight-day interval between a Sept. 6 contest with West Virginia and Friday’s match-up against Albany has given the Nittany Lions (3-1-1) much-needed time to regroup.
“We got a lot of guys logging a lot of minutes over the season, and to be able to get a couple of quality sessions in will be beneficial for us heading forward,” senior Brian Forgue said.
Not only has the hiatus given the team a newfound sense of refreshment, but most importantly, it also has provided valuable recovery time for a few injured players.
Most notably, the time off has been a blessing for junior forward Mikey Minutillo.
Minutillo, who suffered a sprained right MCL near the end of August, hasn’t seen action since the Lions 3-2 victory over Hartford on Aug. 27.
The San Jose native began 2012 with an impressive start in the preseason against current No.3-ranked Maryland, scoring a goal and creating offensive chemistry with fellow forward Julian Cardona.
During Minutillo’s time on the pitch, the 6-foot-1 attacker used his frame to shield the ball from clinging defenders and forge opportunities for Cardona and company.
Since his injury, the Lions have suffered in the scoring department, netting just two goals in three games.
However, the lapse has given the junior time to work on rehabbing his knee to full health.
“I’ve been going into treatment with Steve, our trainer, two or three times a day. And I feel like my knee’s a lot more stable going into this Friday’s game,” Minutillo said.
With that being said, Minutillo is expected to see some action this weekend, but it remains to be seen how significant of a role he’ll play.
Coach Bob Warming said he wants his forward to log some minutes, but mentioned that he will take a conservative approach because he wants Minutillo at full health for Big Ten play.
Regardless, the junior’s presence on the pitch will likely produce more scoring opportunities against Albany on Friday and Adelphi on Sunday.
Considering the two teams have surrendered a combined 19 goals over 10 games, this weekend will be an opportunity for Minutillo to rekindle his chemistry with Cardona and get the offense rolling.