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Five Nittany Lions Land In Men’s Soccer Midseason Rankings

Just like its female counterparts, No. 19 Penn State men’s soccer was well represented in TopDrawerSoccer’s midseason Top-100 rankings.

Brandon Hackenberg led the way for the squad at No. 25. As a defender, the captain hasn’t stuffed the stat sheet this season but has arguably been Penn State’s most influential player.

He is undoubtedly valued by Jeff Cook, playing nearly every minute in each of the eight games so far. While other players have been dropping like flies due to injury, the fact that Hackenberg has been a rock at the back for the Nittany Lions has been crucial throughout the regular season.

Despite going forward on only important set pieces, Hackenberg did have a hand in an important goal late in the season. The future Orlando City SC defender grabbed an assist on Peter Mangione’s equalizer against Maryland in an eventual 2-2 draw — a result that secured second place for Penn State.

Hackenberg was joined by Liam Butts in the top 100. Despite being injured for the past few games, the striker checked in at No. 42.

Butts hasn’t had the smoothest campaign when it comes to stuffing the stat sheet, as he has just one assist in five matches. However, his presence alone has complimented the other strikers’ skillsets. The Georgia-born sophomore dropped from his No. 23 spot in the preseason ranking, while Hackenberg climbed from six spots from No. 31.

Hackenberg and Butts undoubtedly deserve their positions within the top 100, although it would be understandable for a few other Nittany Lions to be frustrated with a lack of inclusion. Captain Pierre Reedy, striker Danny Bloyou, and goalkeeper Kris Shakes all could have comfortably made the list.

When it comes to the freshmen, Cook won’t have any worries about the future of the program. Peter Mangione was the top Penn State first-year, coming in at No. 14, the fourth-best freshman in the Big Ten.

Freshman wingbacks Femi Awodesu (No. 80) and Tyger Evans (No. 94) were also recognized after being thrust into the lineup following injuries to Jalen Watson and Alex Stevenson.

Only two programs had more players in the freshman top 100 list than Penn State’s three — Duke (five) and No. 4 Wake Forest (four). The Nittany Lions were tied for third with No. 24 UCF, Virginia, Akron, and conference-rival Maryland.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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