Men’s Soccer Loses Tight Match to No. 3 Akron

Story posted October 11, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Pat White

The Penn State men's soccer team (6-4-2, 1-1-1 Big Ten) dropped a hard fought match to 3rd-ranked Akron (8-1-2, 3-0-0 MAC) by a 2-0 score at Jeffrey Field on Wednesday.

Despite outplaying the Zips in the second half, the Nittany Lions were unable to overcome two first half goals. Penn State head coach Bob Warming said that he was pleased with the way his team competed against what he called “the slickest passing team Akron has ever had.” He said his team took a lot of positives from the game that will help when they face a tough Michigan State team on Sunday.

"I don't think we will play anyone this year that will pass the ball like that," said Warming. "Our speed of thought improved as we went along in the game we got more tackles and started winning some balls and I think that will transfer over into Sunday."

Penn State came out very aggressive and possessed the ball in the Akron end for a good portion of the first half. Akron was not phased and showed patience with deliberate ball control and passing.

There was a scary moment in the first half when Penn State senior midfielder Minh Vu collided with Robbie Derschang of Akron. Vu lay on the field for a few minutes before being helped off by the trainers. He did not return to the match.

Penn State would be dealt another blow when senior defender, Brian Forgue, was given a yellow card at 15:36 in the first half. He was replaced by sophomore Eli Dennis, who impressed his coach and teammates with strong play on the defensive end.

“Eli came in and did a great job,” said Warming. “He was dangerous on the free kicks, and defensively he did a really great job.”

Another player who saw his minutes increase was senior forward Hasani Sinclair. Sinclair found openings all over the Akron defense, but was not able to capitalize. A few offside calls cost Sinclair some quality chances at Akron goalkeeper David Meves. The increased minutes and scoring opportunities is an encouraging sign for the Nittany Lions.

"Basically I just want to help the team try and score and work as hard as I can to help the team," said Sinclair. “[The offsides] hurt us because when we actually got through we had to stop, so it was kind of frustrating.”

Akron would get on the board at 17:14 when forward Reinaldo Brenes found the ball in space after a beautiful through ball from midfielder, Eric Stevenson, and beat goalkeeper, Emmanuel Martin.

Akron would strike again toward the end of the first half on a questionable call by the referee. Stevenson was tackled in the box, and the official awarded Akron a penalty kick that would be converted by midfielder Scott Caldwell.

The second half saw Penn State controlling much of the tempo. Some miscues by Akron awarded Penn State ample opportunities on set-pieces, but they could not find the back of the net. Despite the lack of goals, Warming said he was pleased to see success on set pieces.

“We had a lot of really good chances on all of our free kicks,” Warming said. “All the free kicks I thought we were going to get a goal off of.”

Akron posed a good challenge to Penn State in preparation for a Big Ten matchup with Michigan State on Sunday at 3 p.m. Senior defender John Gallagher said that the team has learned from the Akron game, and will be ready to face a Michigan State team that defeated Penn State 1-0 in a hard fought match last season.

"Akron is number three in the nation right now," Gallagher said. "Everyone on that team can play and has a great touch. So for us to be able to come out and compete as well as we did is going to be great for us against Michigan State."

Warming said that the few days of rest will give the team a chance to prepare for the game on Sunday.

“For some guys it’s getting rest, for others it’s a little technical training," Warming said.

“[Michigan State] presents a really big challenge for us. I think our guys are excited to play against them.”

The game against Michigan State will be broadcast live Sunday on ComRadio at 3 p.m. Tune in at psucomradio.com.

Pat White is a senior majoring in Journalism. To contact him, email pmw5072@psu.edu.