During the week, coach Bob Warming emphasized Akron’s slick passing and changed the Lions’ style accordingly. He’s hoping that all the focus on the Zips will be a learning experience to help the team move forward.
After a 2-0 loss on Wednesday night to No. 3 Akron, the Penn State men’s soccer team (6-4-2, 1-1-1 Big Ten) will look to end a four-game winless streak with a victory against Michigan State (5-6-1, 1-1-0) Sunday afternoon. During that stretch, the team has gone 0-3-1 and faced two top ten teams.
After preparing for Akron’s high-tempo, possession style of play, Warming said that adjusting to the speed of the Michigan State offense will be difficult.
“It’s kind of the overload principle,” Warming said referring to the Akron offense. “We’ve seen a super fast speed of play. Everything after this is going to seem a little slower in everyone’s mind.”
Close losses against tough teams have been the Nittany Lions’ script, as they have lost three games to teams in the top 12 by a combined score of 5-1.
Midfielder John Gallagher said he feels the competitive nature Penn State displayed against Akron will help its confidence level in future games.
“For us to be able to come out and compete as well as we did, it’ll be great for us against Michigan State,” Gallagher said.
After preparing for an Akron offense that is one of the best in the nation, the Lions will face a Michigan State offense that has been struggling, having scored 12 goals in 12 games. The Spartans’ 1.00 goals per game is seventh in the Big Ten, and the Spartans have also been shut out five times. Despite the poor offensive numbers on the season, Michigan State has scored in five straight games.
Midfielder Luke Norman has been the catalyst so far this season for the Spartans’ offense, as the 6-foot-1 senior has scored three goals this season to lead the team.
The Lions’ defense has been the strength of the team so far — Penn State sits second in the Big Ten, allowing 0.75 goals per game. Of the nine goals that the team has allowed this season, five have been to teams ranked in the top 12.
As the team shifts its focus to the Spartans, the Lions will be helped by not having a mid-week slump, allowing themselves to rest after 16 hours of travel over the weekend.
“We should be fine against Michigan State, come out and play our game, we should come away with the win,” Gallagher said.
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