Penn State can go into the playoffs with its head held high after ending the regular season on a positive note. Last Sunday, the Nittany Lions defeated Rutgers 2-0 on senior day at Jeffrey Field.
The two goals came from sophomores Callum Pitchatt and Ethan Beckford, with the defense holding off Rutgers and leading the Nittany Lions to their fifth shutout this regular season.
With a win to end the regular season, coach Jeff Cook discussed the team’s mindset heading into its matchup with Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.
“We know that it will be a challenging game at Michigan,” Cook said. “They’re a very talented team, but we think we’re in good form as well so we look forward to a challenge. They had a great atmosphere when we played out there in the regular season so it should be a great match and I think we feel that we can present them with problems.”
In their last matchup in Ann Arbor, the Nittany Lions tied the Wolverines 1-1 in a game that went into double overtime. Junior Christian Sload had the only goal of the game for Penn State after an assist from Jeremy Rafanello.
Both teams played very solid on the defensive end and neither team was able to secure the win. This time around, the Nittany Lions are looking for a different result.
“The final score of course,” Cook said when asked about what they are looking to improve on this time around. “It is different though because in postseason play, it is a different mentality because you have to win and survive. There’s a lot more pressure in that environment.”
Senior Mac Curran also gave his input on what the Nittany Lions can improve on heading into their game against Michigan.
“I think our main thing that is very consistent is to get better each and every day,” Curran said. “Every training session off the field continues with hydration and nutrition just to be as best as we can when go out to play Michigan and hopefully more games after that.”
Curran also touched on his expectations from Michigan this time around.
“We’re excited to go back because we still have some unfinished business as we tied,” Curran said. “But the expectations going there are that it’s going to take the whole game. It’s not going to be an easy game by no means. It’s going to take every single player’s energy, effort and everything we have. But we think that as long as we believe in ourselves, we’ll get it done.”
The game will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday.