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‘Truly Outstanding’: Penn State Men’s Soccer’s Kris Shakes Emerging As Nationally Notable Goalkeeper

Penn State men’s soccer knew it had to outperform its results from the 2022 season heading into this fall. The Nittany Lions finished with a 6-6-4 record a season ago after winning the Big Ten regular season and Big Ten Tournament in 2021.

The level of play at Jeffrey Field needed to rise to what it once was in 2021 in an attempt to recreate results. Through the first four games of the 2023 campaign, the Nittany Lions have done so, and it starts at the goal line with fifth-year goalkeeper senior Kris Shakes.

The Parkland, Florida, native has been everything the blue and white could’ve asked for to start the season in between the posts. So far, Shakes has allowed only two goals on 17 saves in four games.

“There’s tremendous belief in Kris,” Head Coach Jeff Cook said. “I think it helps the whole team settle into the things we want to do.”

Last Friday, during a 1-1 draw against defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Syracuse, Shakes faced a season-high 20 shots from the Orange’s attack. Pablo Pedregosa bested Shakes and the Nittany Lion defense in the 89th minute to tie the game and stun the Park Avenue Army student section at Jeffrey Field

“I think that’s probably one of the best goalkeeping performances you will see in a college soccer game,” Cook said. “And I think he deserved a shut out.”

Shakes and the rest of the Penn State team gave credit to the fans that came to the “Wear White” game, mentioning the extra motivation the Nittany Lion faithful gave them from the stands.

“Mainly the atmosphere we were feeding off of, it keeps us going every single time,” Shakes said.

Through a small sample size of just four games, Shakes boasts an impressive .895 save percentage. The Nittany Lions’ top goalkeeper improved his save percentage from a year ago when he finished with a .726 save percentage, a statistic even more impressive with two of Penn State’s matches having come against No. 1 Syracuse and No. 5 Pitt.

“The defense, we stay together and trust each other…covering each other’s back,” Shakes said.

As a fifth-year senior, Shakes recognizes he can’t do it all himself, and a lot of his success this season has been because of the strong backline in front of him and the entire goalkeeping room.

“I’ll just give the props to the goalkeepers,” Shakes said. “We all come in to compete for the number one spot, and having those brothers to push me and make me better every day, I’m grateful for them.”

The accolades have been rolling in for Shakes to start the season. The Nittany Lion goalkeeper has been named the Big Ten’s back-to-back Defensive Player of the Week, and most recently was honored as the NCAA Player of the Week for his performances against Syracuse and St. Johns.

“He’s impressive, his leadership is there for all to see. We have been together for a long time, from our time at the Philadelphia Union Academy and now here for season five,” Cook said. “I don’t think there is any way I get him back here next year, unfortunately. Kris is maturing into one of the truly outstanding goalkeepers in the country.”

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About the Author

CJ Gill

CJ is a junior from McVeytown, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism and is an associate editor at Onward State. He's a huge Phillies fan, which has its pro and cons come October. You can send all sports takes to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CJGill14.

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