Penn State Shutouts Michigan, Advances to Big Ten Championship
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After defeating Michigan State on Sunday, Penn State continued the trend of defeating teams from Michigan as they took down the Wolverines.
The Nittany Lions controlled the pace of play throughout the entirety of the game coming away with a 2-0 victory.
In the 12th-minute graduate student defender, Joel Harrison was given a yellow card that set up a Penn State free-kick.
On the ensuing free kick, senior midfielder Seth Kuhn found the back of the net to give the blue and white an early one-goal advantage.
The Nittany Lions had junior midfielder Andrew Privett, sophomore midfielder Peter Mangione and Kuhn all in the area.
Penn State hadn't practiced free-kicks a lot but coach Jeff Cook was not worried.
“I talked last night with the group of players about attacking free kicks as we hadn't really practiced them and they said we know what to do were good,” Cook said. “We went and had tacos and what we talked about is what you saw.”
Just 11 minutes later the Nittany Lions advanced their lead as Privett sent an unsuspecting cross into the box and it somehow got past freshman keeper Hayden Evans.
The junior led Penn State in goals during the regular season with seven and has scored in the first two games of the tournament.
The depth of the blue and white has been extremely impressive to Cook.
“It is well documented how dangerous junior forward Liam Butts, senior forward Danny Bloyou and Magione are and while they have not scored, other players have stepped up,” Cook said. “That depth of attacking threat is what really makes us a dangerous opponent.”
Penn State would take that two-goal advantage into halftime however, the Wolverine attack came out extremely strong to open the second half.
Luckily for the Nittany Lions junior goalkeeper, Kris Shakes was up to the task in today’s contest.
Shakes stopped all four shots on goal taken by Michigan.
For Shakes, the shutout marked his third straight as Shakes credits his success to his defense.
“It has been an honor to play behind them,” Shakes said. “Our back four doesn’t deserve less than a clean sheet and we have really been pushing the last few weeks and we have been getting our results.”
In the second half of both Tournament games, Penn State has struggled to get a lot of offense going as every goal scored in the tournament for the blue and white has come in the first half of play.
Getting more offensive production is a focus of Cook.
“It is about finishing the chances we create,” Cook said. “For me, you have to punish your opponents and we had a few chances in the first half to go up a third goal and then in the second we did have a few.”
Penn State will take on Indiana in the championship in what is a rematch of the championship from last season.
Shakes is extremely excited for the opportunity to rematch the Hoosiers on Sunday.
“Last year was indescribable how much pain that was losing in the Big Ten finals especially in penalties,” Shakes said “You are going to see a really determined Penn State side on Sunday.”
Alex Rocco is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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