Quick Offense - To see what the Lions did well in this game, one does not need to look any further than the scoreboard. The Nittany Lions appeared to break out of their scoring slump with a goal by Jacob Barron in the fifth minute. Scoring early in games has been an issue for the Lions this year, especially when playing at Jeffrey Field. With Tuesday night’s game, it looks like the Lions have figured something out. The Lions scored another quick goal when Julian Cardona came off the bench to start the second half and scored on a brilliant diving header early in the second half.
The Way They Scored - While the Lions will gladly take goals off deflections or loose balls in the box, the team is glad to create and convert opportunities that they create. Both goals against Penn came off of plays made by Penn State players. The first goal came when John Gallagher headed a cross to the top of the box, where Barron was able to one-time the shot past the keeper. The second goal was also set up by Gallagher. The midfielder dribbled toward the endline near the corner and sent a cross through the air into the box. The pass found a streaking Cardona who dove and sent a header in for a spectacular goal. Coach Bob Warming said his team has the skill to create those types of goals, and for his players to execute in a game situation is good to see.
Relentless Attack - Even with a comfortable 2-0 lead, the offense did not want to slow down. Penn State continued to push the ball up the field, looking to pile on the goals. Both Barron and Cardona came within feet of tallying a multi-score night. Barron sent a shot that went over the crossbar by less than a foot in the second half. Cardona chipped a ball over the keeper but the shot slowed down enough before reaching the goal to allow a Penn defender to clear it away.
Andrew Wolverton - The freshman goalkeeper recorded another shutout, but this may have been his most hard-earned. In the first half, the Penn State defensive line played high to help put pressure on the Penn defense. However, this created chances for Penn, as they were able to send passes through the line and get shots on goal. Wolverton met every challenge, including a couple that required him to run up and smother a ball before a Quaker could get a shot off. If the freshman was still having any confidence problems in goal, those potential doubts should be gone now.
The Defense: It’s hard to criticize the defense in a shutout, but the unit did show some early vulnerability. The group had some early trouble matching the speed presented by Penn’s offense, and it led to some early shots. However, to the group’s credit, they showed the ability to adapt as the game progressed, and opportunities for the Quakers became harder and harder to come by.
A Look Ahead:
With a win under their belt, the Lions will look to make a move in the Big Ten standings and capture their first victory. The Lions will also have to show an ability to win on the road, with six of their next seven games on the road. Penn State will travel to Michigan State for a matchup on Sunday afternoon, and then will square off against defending national champion Akron next Wednesday.