After being upset by Lehigh in heartbreaking fashion Tuesday night, the Penn State men’s soccer team will look to right the ship in its biggest contest of the year so far — a date with No. 11-ranked Indiana at Jeffrey Field on Saturday night.
Considering the Nittany Lions (6-2-1) received 22 votes in this week’s NSCAA rankings, the team was in fine position to make a run at the top 25 rankings before the week started.
However, with a loss to Lehigh, which was winless up until Tuesday night, Penn State could use a signature performance against a polished Hoosiers team in order to vault them back into the national conversation.
“[Indiana] is a team of stars, the program has seven national championships in the last three decades, and many of the country’s top high school players go there,” coach Bob Warming said.
Despite the complications this game has for the Lions, Warming has preached to his team that all Big Ten matchups are of equal value.
“We’re not putting any more importance on Indiana, every Big Ten game is important,” Warming said.
Considering the two schools share a conference, there is a notable history between the two sides.
While the Hoosiers hold a stunning 11-28-3 record against the Lions historically, the past two years under Warming have been extremely close.
Penn State has faced Indiana three times in the past two seasons, winning once 2-1 in the second round of the 2010-11 Big Ten Tournament.
Even though the Lions have dropped the latest installments of regular season contests with the Hoosiers, the two squads have produced intriguing clashes during the past couple of years and this weekend should be no different.
Lions forward Daniel Burnham said the successes of both Indiana and Penn State have created a rivalry over the years and heightened intensity on the pitch.
Regardless of the upset against Lehigh, the Lions are still oozing with justified confidence.
Prior to the last minute goal by the Mountain Hawks, Penn State hadn’t allowed a single goal in more than 500 minutes of game time, dating back to the meeting at Georgetown on Sept. 2.
Junior defender Martin Seiler said the back line’s communication has been the key to prosperity, and the Lehigh game was kind of a shock for the team.
Not only is the defense poised heading forward, but the offensive end is still feeling good about how it’s done despite being held scoreless against at Lehigh.
The Lions’ attack has been led by upperclassmen Burnham, Julian Cardona, and Mikey Minutillo, along with freshman Kelton Cheney.
If the Lions are going to pull out a victory, this quartet will need to put the Lehigh debacle behind them and play with tenacity against the Hoosiers.
“We’re trying to forget about the game against Lehigh and just move forward,” Burnham said, “… We’ve scored plenty of goals this season and we’re not afraid of not being able to score.”