If the Big Ten tournament marked the start of a new season, the Nittany Lions are off to a good start.
The Penn State men’s soccer team defeated Wisconsin, 1-0, behind a first half goal from midfielder Minh Vu Friday afternoon in Ann Arbor. The Lions won their second game of the tournament and have played their way into Sunday’s finale, where they will face top seed Northwestern.
About 28 minutes into the first half, Vu received a pass in the left side of the box, and sent a shot with his left foot over a leaping Badger goalkeeper. The goal gave the Lions the early advantage, and it helped confirm the Lions’ early dominance.
“What a great shot,” coach Bob Warming said. “I think you have to give Jordan Tyler a little bit of credit because Jordan came in and gave us a lot of energy … I just thought Jordan gave it the energy on that play that gave Minh the chance to use his talent.”
In the first half, Penn State out-shot Wisconsin, 15-1, but after converting only one goal, the Badgers were still in the game after 45 minutes.
Still holding on to a 1-0 entering the second half, the Lions faced much more pressure from the Badgers once play resumed.
Penn State pushed for another goal to extend the lead early in the second half, but as play progressed the team became more conservative and focused on stopping Wisconsin.
Despite outshooting the Badgers 6-4 in the second half, the Lions faced constant pressure from their opponent. The Wisconsin maintained possession in the Penn State half of the filed for the majority of the time, but the Lions’ defense stood strong.
“It’s just like any game is going to be when anything’s on the line,” Warming said. “The other teams going to press, press, press.”
Warming said his players responded well to the pressure and they were able to use the open space to produce some quality counter attacks.
The Lions held off the Badgers for the win, and finished with a 21-5 shot advantage. The loss helped avenge Penn State’s loss to Wisconsin in the regular season finale, where the Lions lost on a penalty kick near the end of the second overtime period.
With one game remaining in the Big Ten tournament, Warming said his team will need to refocus quickly and be prepared to play on Sunday.
“They are the champions,” he said. “They won the regular season and they’ve been very consistent all the way through … Our big thing is just seeing if we can muster enough energy to do this one more time.”