Lions continue to struggle, blanked in consecutive matches

Story posted October 19, 2014 in CommRadio, Sports by Tyler Zulli

After being thoroughly dominated from start to finish against Maryland six days ago, subsequently suffering their first loss of the season, the Penn State Nittany Lions looked to rebound in a big way at home on Saturday night. Things, however, weren’t going to get any easier for the Nittany Lions as the No. 16 Michigan State Spartans visited Jeffrey Field coming off a 4-0 win of their own against in-state foe Western Michigan.

Almost immediately from the opening tip, a defensive struggled ensued, as most expected. Much of the first twenty minutes were consumed by unsuccessful through passes and dribble drives that were thwarted by each defensive side.

The Nittany Lions began to pull ahead in terms of time of possession and attacking chances midway through the first half, as they had multiple chances to put a shot on net, each failing to find the back of the net. Two early corner kicks were also unsuccessful, as the Nittany Lions only generated one shot, a ball that went wide, on those two attempts.

Head Coach Bob Warming was very pleased through the first 25 of minutes of play.

“The first 25 minutes of the game, they hardly touched the ball. We passed the ball so well, I thought at good as we passed the ball all year,” said Warming.

Action looked promising for the Nittany Lions until a turnover right around midfield resulted in a deep run for the Spartans that was ultimately forced out of bounds. The ball was last touched by the Nittany Lions, however, and on the ensuing corner kick, the Spartans struck first off a rocket shot from the foot of Jason Stacy, his fourth goal of his season. Goaltender Andrew Wolverton never saw the shot, as it riffled to his left with 24 minutes to go in the first half.

Wolverton doesn’t blame any one defender in particular, but instead recognized it was everyone on the teams fault the ball found the back of the net, including his own.

“We just, kind of, got caught off guard… we weren’t able to get a block on it,” Wolverton said.

Just five minutes later, off yet another Penn State turnover, Michigan State struck again after a terrific long, lead pass from Adam Montague right on the foot of Jay Chapman. Chapman walked into the box, undefended, and chipped the ball right over the head of a diving Wolverton, stretching the Spartan lead to two with just under twenty to play in the first half. The goal was Chapman’s second of the season.

For just the second time this season, and for, coincidentally, the second match in a row, the Nittany Lions trailed after 45 minutes of play.

The weather became a factor late into the first half in terms of the wind. The skies, however, held up until the second half began. The rain began to fall early in the second half, challenging both teams even further.  Midfielder Drew Klingenberg had a terrific opportunity to cut the Michigan State lead to one early in the second half, but the wind and the rain caused an errant shot off his foot, and the ball sailed harmlessly wide of the keeper.

That attempt by Klingenberg was about the closest the Nittany Lions would come to getting back into the contest. Despite out shooting Michigan State 12-6, Penn State simply never made the most out of any of their opportunities, getting blanked for the second consecutive match, this time by a score of 2-0.

The Nittany Lions dropped their second consecutive match, falling to 10-2-1 and 4-2 in Big Ten conference play. The Spartans continue to roll, picking up their fourth victory in a row.

Wolverton, despite the two losses, isn’t overly worried just yet.

 “This isn’t the first stretch in my four years here where we haven’t had a couple of good games in a row. It’s just, keep working, and it will all fall out as it should,” said Wolverton.

Penn State will look to turn around their fortunes Wednesday night back at Jeffery Field in a non-conference matchup with the West Virginia Mountaineers at 7 p.m.  

Tyler Zulli is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email