penn-state-mens-soccer-vs-villanova-preview

Penn State Men’s Soccer vs. Villanova preview

Story posted September 27, 2022 in

The Nittany Lions have gotten back in the swing of things.

After having a rocky start to the season, Penn State has gone unbeaten over its last three matches.

Two of those matches were against ranked opponents, and the most recent outing has propelled the Nittany Lions back into the top 25. Penn State is now ranked No. 20 in the country.

The blue and white defeated No. 15 Akron 1-0 last time out. It was just the second time this season that the Nittany Lion defense had a clean sheet and second time in the last three games.

After a grueling first eight contests, including three matchups with ranked teams, the Nittany Lions are 4-2-2. Now the schedule softens up over the next couple of games and Penn State has a chance to make a big midseason run.

That stretch begins Wednesday afternoon at Villanova.

Last season, the Wildcats matched up with the Nittany Lions and Penn State dominated. Peter Mangione notched a hat trick en route to a 4-0 Nittany Lion victory.

However, Villanova is not looking like a pushover of an opponent. The Wildcats are 3-2-2 on the year and are coming off a 4-0 victory in their last match.

Senior forward Lyam MacKinnon is tied for the team lead in goals and points for the Wildcats. He has three goals and one assist, totaling seven points.

Another standout for Villanova is sophomore Balthi Saunders who also has seven points. He leads the Wildcats with three assists.

On the Penn State end, junior Tyger Evans was recently named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. Evans had one goal and two assists over the week against two top 25 opponents.

This comes after Evans made the transition from defense to midfield this season. Evans always looked like a dynamic and offensive defender, but a new level has been unlocked in the junior with his move to midfield.

The Nittany Lions will need to have all hands on deck if they want to repeat as Big Ten regular season and tournament champions.

This match against Villanova is a final tune-up before Penn State exclusively faces Big Ten opponents for the rest of the regular season.

In just a handful of weeks, the Nittany Lions will travel to Bloomington, Indiana, for a rematch of last year’s Big Ten Championship match with the Hoosiers.

For now, Penn State has to focus on the opponents in front of it, starting with the trip to Villanova on Tuesday.

A loss on the east side of the state would be devastating and surely send the blue and white back outside the top 25.

A win would keep Penn State on target to defend last season’s title and extend its unbeaten streak to four games.

Maclain Young is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email macyoung21@gmail.com.