Penn State will continue its Friday-Sunday theme to start the season.
After a pair of victories on the west coast last weekend, the Nittany Lions will head back on the road for the first in a pair of tough tests.
Penn State will first take on No. 22 West Virginia on the road on Friday, Sep. 6 to wrap up a three-game road stand, before returning home to face James Madison on Sunday, Sep. 8.
West Virginia presents itself as another ranked challenger after the first game of the season against Stanford, and those are the challenges that the team relishes.
“We also need to know the things we need to work on and I think in training, you can expect some of those things, but you need to play against these opponents,” coach Erica Dambach said. “Obviously, we got our sights set high. There’s big expectations within this program, these guys know it.”
Here are some of the points to watch for the weekend action coming up.
Coffey’s time to shine
Sam Coffey went to work over the past weekend, notching two goals and one assist and bringing her season point total to seven. That earned her a Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week accolade and an inclusion to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Team of the Week.
She went from being part of the spearhead of the lineup to a more drop-back role in the midfield in Shea Moyer’s absence, allowing her to play the engine and link up play from a deeper position. Despite being primarily an attacking midfielder, Coffey starred in the center of the park and helped out a midfield with players leaning toward the defensive side.
With Moyer’s condition still an unknown, one could foresee Coffey reprising this role that fit the team so well.
Playing against Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount presented challenges of their own, being in the heat and on the road, but West Virginia will be another challenge. It took a late Moyer goal for the Nittany Lions to break through the Mountaineers last year at Jeffrey Field, and it will for sure be an uphill climb at Morgantown, West Virginia.
West Virginia was part of the playing field in the opening weekend at Jeffrey Field as it fell to Stanford in a 3-1 loss. It carries a 2-2 record coming into the game, being undefeated at home against Duquesne and High Point while falling to premier opponents like the No.3 Cardinal and No. 6 Virginia.
Penn State will need to bring its A-game to prevail in this matchup.
It is the college soccer norm to play two games over the weekend, and this Penn State team has shown that it is a well-oiled machine. However, it will still be a challenge as it is still early on in the season and the stringent conditions of match play simply cannot be replicated.
Again, the team has been there and done that, but an away-home Friday-Sunday split will only allow the team approximately one full day for recovery, which should be handled carefully.
The blessing was that with the two previous games being less competitive when compared to the likes of Stanford and West Virginia, 19 players got to feature respectively in each game.
The team has found success in freshmen like Ally Schlegel, Kate Wiesner and Cori Dyke. It is important to see if they can keep it up, and if any other players would take another step up in a congested schedule.