While other teams start to wear down in the second half, the Penn State men’s soccer team is at its best.
The Nittany Lions have used their improved fitness this season to get off to a hot start, going 5-1-1 in their first seven games before conference play.
The team can attribute that improvement in fitness to its new outdoor training facilities, the first of their kind in the country.
Coach Bob Warming says that the new training equipment allows for a boost in performance because the players can train around their schedule.
“To help them manage their time academically, it’s been fantastic,” Warming said. “They don’t have to go to another place or another facility to get warmed up again.”
The training facility is located under the bleachers of Jeffrey Field and features many different types of workout equipment, including dumbbells and exercise bikes. VertiMax training allows for the team to focus on its aerial ability and sprinting. English Premier League teams such as Manchester United, Arsenal, and Manchester City employ VertiMax in their training regiments.
The team also has interns and a nutritionist working with the players, looking to get the perfect training program and diet for them based on how long they’re playing in games.
For the players, it’s all about getting the most out of their training.
“You cut 35 to 40 minutes of wasted time out of a guy’s day and add that up cumulatively over the course of a season, you really help them be more successful,” Warming said.
The Lions have used their increased fitness to punish teams so far in the second half this season. Through their first seven games, they have outscored teams 7-2 and outshot them 57-36 in the second half. In comparison, the team has outscored opponents 5-2 in the first half and out-shot them 37-27.
The training facility has also helped the time fight off early season injuries. Forward Mikey Minutillo suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee and was able to meet with the trainer two to three times a day to get a training program that allowed for him to regain fitness quickly.
The biggest beneficiary of the training facility appears to be forward Julian Cardona, who has been able to start the season healthy after struggling with his fitness last season for periods of time. He has already surpassed his goal total from last year, and leads the team with five.
“This year we’re more fit then we’ve ever been in the history of this program,” Cardona said. “It helps because the other team comes out firing in the first half and in the second half, we’re still running.”