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Penn State Men’s Soccer Approaching Big Ten Play With Talent & Confidence

Penn State men’s soccer is off to an impressive start to the 2023 season. The Nittany Lions begin Big Ten play at 7 p.m. on September 15, on the road against Ohio State.

With quality games against top-ranked Syracuse and Pitt already under their belts, the blue and white plan to attack the Big Ten schedule and make a run at the conference championship.

Head coach Jeff Cook’s team is coming off its first poor performance of the year, dropping a 3-0 loss to Penn September 8 at Jeffery Field. The loss came as a surprise to many of the Nittany Lions players and coaches who pride themselves on their consistency.

“Of course, we’re disappointed about what happened last Friday night here at home. It’s unusual for us. But one game doesn’t define the season,” Cook said. “When we’ve had really good years, there have been bumps in the road along the way, so it’s never easy.”

Turning the page to the Big Ten conference and moving past the Penn match, the Nittany Lions will aim to depart Columbus with a road victory against an Ohio State team that has only won one game this season.

“Every team is going into tomorrow night is 0-0 in the league… we’re playing with a chip on our shoulder going into Friday,” captain Peter Mangione said.

Co-captain Femi Awodesu lacks no confidence and has high expectations for Penn State in the Big Ten this time around.

“To go undefeated. That’s our goal,” Awodesu said. “We’re very confident that we’ll be able to achieve that goal.”

That confidence comes from a plethora of experience from Awodesu and the other veterans, who were a part of the 2021 team that won the Big Ten regular season and tournament championship, combined with a talented freshman class eager to get its conference minutes up.

“Having the confidence just stems from the talent that we have on the team. The young guys are talented, simple as that,” Awodesu said. “And then we have a lot of experience with figures coming back.”

One of the keys for Mangione and the rest of the Nittany Lions to come out with a win against Ohio State is the need to start the game fast. It’s something that’s been a point of emphasis all season for Cook’s squad.

“The first five to 10 minutes of games, we need to put the ball in the other team’s end and get up the field and just try and create chances and win corner kicks and free kicks little things like that,” Mangione said. “Once we do that, then the game will settle.”

Still, things remain simple for the blue and white. At the end of the 90 minutes, they need to have scored more goals than the competition, and it starts by creating more chances.

“[We need] to produce more goal efforts,” Cook said. “That would be a very logical thing to do… what matters is who scores the most goals. So I think that’s a specific focus, generating more scoring chances and more efforts on target will be really important.”

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About the Author

CJ Gill

CJ is a sophomore from McVeytown, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism and an associate editor at Onward State, He has the great privilege of living in central Pennsylvania, which has one benefit: two options for favorite sports teams. Here we go Steelers and Go Phils! You can send all disagreements to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CJGill14.

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