Posts tagged ‘Men’s soccer’
Arguably the best weekend in September (or late August) every year is the first home football weekend. There’s nothing better than thousands of people coming to Happy Valley for the first time since the previous November to watch the Nittany Lions square off against a non-conference foe.
The first one of those is still a few weeks away, but this is a big weekend in State College, because it’s a different kind of football weekend. Penn State’s men’s and women’s soccer programs have their only doubleheaders of the 2015 season this Friday and Sunday. Tonight’s slate features a men’s match against San Francisco and a women’s match against Duke, while Navy and Arkansas will face the men and women, respectively, on Sunday. The action begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Both evenings should be spectacular, but not only because of the nice weather or the fact that the promotions for both games are amazing (on Friday alone, you get a scarf for going to the men’s game and this poster for the women’s game).
No, these nights will be entertaining because they will showcase two of the premier soccer teams in the nation. Currently, the women are ranked No. 4 in America on TopDrawerSoccer.com, while the men are slotted at 15th. This makes Penn State one of the only schools in America with two programs ranked in the top-15 of both polls.
The teams also features some of the premier talent in America. In addition to ranking teams, TopDrawSoccer.com has a ranking of the top-100 players in both the men’s and women’s game. It contends that Penn State has the eighth-best male player in the country in junior forward Connor Maloney, while there are five women in the top-100: senior forward/midfielder Raquel Rodriguez – who you can read about in our most recent issue of the magazine – comes in at 13th, sophomore midfielder Emily Ogle is 27th, sophomore forward Frannie Crouse is 61st, senior forward Mallory Weber is 67th, and sophomore defender Maddie Elliston is 71st.
It should be a fantastic weekend for the “other” kind of football in State College.
When we spoke to Nate Lee early this summer, he was still trying to figure out his plans for the next few months. “I know on June 6, we report to Guam,” he was saying, “but I’m not sure when we head out after that.” It was hard to blame him: Between a spring and summer itinerary that included trips to Hong Kong and Singapore, and games against opponents from Turkmenistan and India, it would be hard for anyone to keep up.
Lee, a redshirt junior defender featured in our fresh-off-the-printer Sept./Oct. issue, spent his much of his spring and summer as part of the Guam National Soccer Team. Born and raised in Maryland, he and his family qualified for citizenship in the tiny U.S. island territory in the Western Pacific through his great grandparents. For most of their lives, that fact didn’t have much impact on Lee and his brothers, all of whom—Nate, former Nittany Lion Justin ’12, and ex-Maryland star Alex—are or were college soccer standouts. That changed when Guam announced it planned to field a team for World Cup qualifying matches. “They started to find a lot of connections to American players,” Nate says, “so they decided to build a team from there.”
After splitting a pair of exhibition matches last spring, the “Matao,” as the national side is called, hosted and won a pair of qualifying matches in June against Turkmenistan and India. They still have a long way to go until 2018, but for a country with no World Cup history, it was a pretty good start. For Lee and his brothers, it already qualifies as an unforgettable experience. “It’s still kind of mind-boggling how this all worked out,” he says.
Lee is back in State College now, where he’ll be one of the veteran leaders for a Penn State squad that went 13-6-1 last season and made the second round of the NCAA tournament. He was among the players who joined coach Bob Warming earlier this week for the team’s preseason media day; you can check out their thoughts below.
Lee and the Nittany Lions, ranked 23rd in the national preseason poll, open their 2015 campaign this Friday afternoon in a home match against San Francisco. It’s part of a double-header with the sixth-ranked women’s team, who host Duke in the late game. Should be a great night in a perfect setting for futbol.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Last Friday night, the women’s soccer team celebrated senior night—and its 14th straight Big Ten title—with a 2-0 victory over Purdue. That was a lot of fun, but it wasn’t the only highlight of the night: At halftime, 11 members of the men’s soccer team took the field for a game against kids from Centre Soccer Association, the local youth league. (I coached my son’s U7 team in CSA this fall.) A ranked Division I college team playing against a bunch of kids aged 7-13—how could this be fair?
Well, the kids had a numbers advantage. 100 to 11, to be exact.
Someone finally posted video last night, and you can get a sense of how much fun this was to watch. The CSA kids won 3-2, thanks in part to the opening goal scored by Luke Fey, son of Brad ’95 and Denise ’95 Fey. Hoping this becomes an annual affair at Penn State men’s and women’s soccer games. It was a blast.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Here’s what happens when I take my kids to Jeffrey Field to watch a soccer game, as I did Tuesday night for Penn State’s 2-0 victory over Penn: I try to pay attention to the action on the field while keeping one eye on my 6-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, who spend most of the time climbing the bleacher steps and hanging on the railings in an apparent effort to hurt themselves. They’re pretty good at it.
It was during one of my son’s forays up and over the rows of bleachers that an older gentlemen asked him if he was a soccer player. My son’s very 6-year-old response: “Well, I play on a soccer team.”
The conversation went on like this for another minute before the man said, “You know, I used to play goalkeeper on this field.”
When I got to the office Wednesday, my colleague Julie Nelson and I dug through some back issues of The Penn Stater before finding the ad that gave it away. The man talking to my son was Ron Coder ’51, the star goalkeeper on Bill Jeffrey’s 1950 and ’51 national title teams and an eventual U.S. Olympian. Coder and his wife Hope ’54 live at The Village at Penn State, and it was Coder’s appearance in an ad for The Village that I remembered. (And yes, at 83, he still looks like he could get out there and stop shots.)
My son is too young to appreciate stuff like this. But for me—as a soccer fan and an alum—it was a really cool moment. One of the great things about living here is the chance to soak up more of Penn State’s history. All the better when you encounter that history thriving in the present.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
The busiest Penn State sports weekend of the semester was a bit of a letdown. There was some good news: the Nittany and Lady Lion basketball teams and sixth-ranked wrestling team opened their seasons with wins, and the No. 8 women’s volleyball team extended its Rec Hall unbeaten streak to 88 matches with sweeps of Wisconsin and No. 9 Illinois.
That was the good news.
There was disappointment but no shame as the field hockey and women’s soccer teams both fell to higher-ranked opponents in NCAA tournament play. The men’s soccer team, meanwhile, hosted the Big Ten tournament at Jeffrey Field, beating Northwestern in the opener and upsetting top-seeded Indiana in the semis to set up a meeting with Michigan in the final. We were blessed with unbelievable weather this weekend, so I took in both Friday’s semifinal and Sunday’s final.
I also took our camera; credit for whatever half-decent shots I got goes largely to our Nikon D40. Here’s one from Friday afternoon’s semifinal against IU. That’s Penn State midfielder Drew Cost (8) lining up a long-range shot. (Click to enlarge)
Jeffrey Field is one of my favorite places on campus to be in the fall. The sunsets up there can be gorgeous, and they made for some great shadows and color on the field. It’s also a nice backdrop for a fan looking contemplative over his vuvuzela.
Penn State lost the title game to Michigan, 4-1, a score that didn’t reflect how well Penn State played — the Nittany Lions actually outshot the Wolverines 23-16 on the day. Here’s one of those shots, a first-half attempt by freshman forward Jordan Tyler.
The Nittany Lions’ only goal came late in the first half, when Cost received a pass on the edge of the Michigan box, made a quick move to his right and shot low toward the far corner…
The keeper never had a chance.
The final score was a bummer, but at least the kids had a good time: That’s my son and my buddy Dave’s two boys clowning around at halftime.
Figured I’d end it with some cuteness.
The soccer team awaits confirmation of an NCAA at-large bid, to be announced Monday afternoon.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
So there’s a pretty ridiculous amount of Penn State sports activity at University Park this weekend, which actually kicked off Thursday when the men’s soccer team opened Big Ten tournament play at Jeffrey Field with a 3-1, come-from-behind win over Northwestern. (Check out this link for all the weekend events.) That said, for most of us the biggest game is in Columbus, where the Nittany Lions are huge underdogs against No. 8 Ohio State.
Penn State doesn’t have a great record in Ohio Stadium — not that any visiting team does — but the Lions did pretty well on their last trip to Columbus. As for Saturday’s game, it’s not the first time Penn State has been picked to be blown out at Ohio State. The Columbus Dispatch has a great piece about the Lions’ very first trip to the Horseshoe, way back in 1956, when Woody Hayes (left) prowled the Buckeye sidelines and Penn State was a late fill-in after Navy cancelled its game there. The home team was favored by three touchdowns in that one, too. Final score? Penn State 7, Ohio State 6.
I imagine most Penn Staters would be thrilled with the same score this weekend.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
It’s shaping up to be a beautiful week in State College, fitting weather for the campus-wide good vibes still lingering from Saturday night. I took my 5-year-old to Beaver Stadium, and after the game I told him that one day he’d be able to tell his kids about seeing Joe Paterno win his 400th game. Honestly, I don’t think he grasped it; all my son knew was that he had a blast high-fiving our neighbors in section NAU over and over again in that second half.
In the two days since, there have been a bunch of great stories on Joe Paterno’s 400th career win (we’ve already linked to a couple of them on our Facebook page). Here’s a couple more you might have missed:
–This wrap-up from the Altoona Mirror is cool for the embedded video link, which offers a close-up view of Paterno on the shoulders of lineman Eric Shrive and graduate assistant coach Gus Felder ’02 (who I’m pretty sure was on the field as a player when Joe broke Bear Bryant’s Division I victory record back in 2001). It offers a (more…)