Penn State looks to stay undefeated in conference play against Maryland
As it began its quest to repeat as Big Ten Regular Season Champions, Penn State opened its
opened its 2022 conference slate in the best fashion possible: victorious.
The Nittany Lions secured a 1-0 victory over Wisconsin on an 86th-minute goal by redshirt freshman Van Danielson. That goal was the first goal of the Maryland native’s collegiate career.
That win boosted the blue and white’s record to 3-2-1 this season, which is reminiscent of its successful 2021 campaign that started in the same manner.
The Nittany Lions will seek to improve their record in Big Ten play to 2-0, which would provide another parallel to last season when they travel down to Maryland to face the Terrapins.
Maryland comes into this contest at 4-1-1, riding a three-game winning streak and continuing upon its success from a season ago.
Both Big Ten foes made the NCAA Tournament in 2021, but both Maryland and Penn State were defeated in the first round by teams from Long Island, LIU and Hofstra, respectively.
With the No. 8 ranking now in front of their name, the Terrapins have been clicking on offense. In a relatively low-scoring sport of soccer, Maryland is averaging 2.17 goals per game, which stands within the top 35 in the country.
That offense is led by Malcom Johnston and Chris Rindov, who have found the back of the net twice thus far. It is not just the two two-goal scorers propelling this offensive attack as Joshua Bolma has recorded a goal while leading the team in assists with three.
Bolma and Johnston are tied for the team lead in points with five apiece.
That offense will be met by the last line of defense, but possibly the strongest, for the Nittany Lions. Goalkeeper Kris Shakes is tied for 25th in the country averaging four-and-a-half saves per game.
The senior from Florida recorded his 13th career shutout in that aforementioned defeat of Wisconsin.
It’s not as clear on the other side as to who will be in net for coach Sasho Cirovski.
While Niklas Neumann has been strong this season, including a week where he won Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week, Jamie Lowell has seen a share of the playing time.
Neumann, a 2021 All-Big Ten Second Team selection, holds the advantage in starts, but it’s Lowell who is letting up fewer goals per game. Lowell was in net as Maryland defeated Michigan 2-1 its last time out.
No matter who is in net for the Terrapins on Tuesday night, the Penn State offense will look to create scoring chances early and often.
Peter Mangione is leading the way for the team with three goals and two assists, continuing upon the success of a year ago when he was second on the team with seven goals.
Mangione has seen contributions from several other Nittany Lions, including Liam Butts, who is second on the team with two goals.
That blue and white offense set a season-high in goals scored the last time they played a ranked opponent. It was a three-goal effort, including two by Mangione, that secured the victory over then-ranked No. 18 West Virginia.
The goal total was tied in their next game against George Mason. An offensive explosion like that could secure the victory against Maryland, especially with the play of Shakes on the defensive effort.
This matchup has been closely competitive as of late, with two of the last four games going into overtime. One of those overtime affairs was last season when Penn State pulled out a 3-2 win over the No. 7 Terrapins.
Justin Ciavolella is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.