Against Adelphi last game, Kelton Cheney was excited to net his first collegiate goal. His run of great form continued in the conference opener as the freshman scored in his second consecutive game.
Cheney used the most of his opportunity Friday night scoring the game winner as the Penn State men's soccer team (6-1-1, 1-0-0 Big Ten) defeated Wisconsin (2-3-3, 0-1-0 Big Ten), 1-0, in Madison.
The Nittany Lions focused on getting their subs experience against Adelphi to prepare for conference play and it ended up paying dividends against the Badgers as three substitutes orchestrated the game winner.
“It’s good to get the substitutes playing time,” coach Bob Warming said. “These guys are important for the future growth of the program.”
Last season, the team was starved for goals in conference play, scoring one goal in six games.
The offensive depth for the Lions ended up helping the team right away to start out the conference schedule strong.
After a fairly even first half in which the Lions out-shot Wisconsin 9-6, the team's improved performances in the second half showed again. The Lions have outscored opponents 8-2 in the second half of games this season.
The Lions out-shot the Badgers 14-3 in the second half as the team constantly pressured the Badgers net, forcing Wisconsin goalie Chase Rau to make three saves in the half.
In the 82nd minute, Drew Klingenberg won a ball on the end line and passed it to Hasani Sinclair. Sinclair crossed it to Cheney who was waiting on the back post to shoot home the winner.
“Kelton [Cheney] has a different speed when he's going for goal,” Warming said. “He looks very powerful.”
The Lions’ depth also showed up on defense as the team kept its fourth straight shutout, only allowing the Badgers to get one shot on target.
Warming said that the defensive success of late has been due to the team's pressuring of the ball.
“No one can shred us from the back,” Warming said. “No one has time to look up, pose on the ball, find a runner, time it, and clip a ball to him.”
The defense has had to go through some adjustment this season as the Lions have three new defenders in the back line, but senior leadership has helped the defense. The team has allowed just four goals in eight games so far.
Senior defender Brian Forgue said that the defense's communication in the back has improved over recent weeks and it's becoming a real strength of the team.
Goalie Emmanuel Martin has gotten the bulk of the playing time in net to start the season. With his shutout over Wisconsin, Martin now leads the Big Ten with six shutouts.
As the team gets deeper into conference play, Warming hopes that the team’s younger players — including the three that orchestrated the winning goal and midfielder Marvin Ledgister — can continue to improve on their solid performances.
“Cheney and Marvin [Ledgister] will hopefully continue to develop for us up top and help us out,” Warming said.