After a close defensive struggle throughout most of the contest, Penn State forward Hasani Sinclair came on as a substitute in the 84th minute against Indiana on Saturday.
Sinclair, who started 21 of 22 games in 2011, hadn’t made much of an impact so far this season, but found his groove at home against the No. 11 Hoosiers.
“Hasani is the fastest kid on our team. He showed it extremely well against [Indiana]. I mean he got behind [Indiana] every time he ran. He got some great balls played to him. Yeah, it's great, he's super dynamic when he's playing well,” Lions’ leading scorer Julian Cardona said.
When looking at the sequences of offense he strung together, it’s pretty clear that Sinclair made an indelible mark on the game.
While he only totaled two shots and technically neither of them were on target, both Sinclair’s chances were potent opportunities to score, especially the latter attempt.
After pushing the ball with pace up the left side, Sinclair almost ended the game just two minutes into overtime.
As Sinclair turned on the jets and pulled away from the Hoosiers’ defenders, he ripped a shot from 15 yards out that looked en route for the back of the net, but went just wide to the left.
However, the senior didn’t mope after missing, but instead said he knew he would get another opportunity to score and just to continue getting after the ball.
Sinclair had the Lions’ bench and crowd fired up in the closing minutes of the second half and all of overtime.
Not only did the senior almost score, but he also gave the Lions a man advantage. Sinclair drew two yellow cards by Indiana’s Kerel Bradford in the 89th and 103rd minutes when the Hoosier tried to halt Sinclair’s offensive pressure.
“I knew they were starting to get more and more aggressive and starting to foul me, but I just kept going and didn’t stop,” Sinclair said.
Sinclair, who hasn’t started a game yet this year, was in fantastic form and played like he has in years past.
The 6-foot-1 forward, a Florida native, transferred to Penn State from South Florida after his sophomore year in 2010.
While his playing time dipped in his second season, Sinclair was one of college soccer’s best freshmen in 2009 after being selected to the Big East Conference All-Rookie Team.
However, he felt like the opportunity to play in Happy Valley was more favorable than his situation at South Florida — even if the weather wasn’t.
“I knew this was a good program and a good education so I just wanted the best of both worlds,” Sinclair said.
Since he’s joined the Lions, Sinclair has progressed as a forward and has made clear strides on the pitch.
“His balance is a bit better, you know it’s hard to dribble the ball for 40 yards and have your touch perfect every time,” coach Bob Warming said after the game, “He’s doing better and I thought he did a good job getting behind Indiana [on Saturday].”