‘Team Chemistry Is At 100’: Penn State Men’s Soccer Locked In After Big Ten Opener
Penn State men’s soccer is getting back to its winning ways.
Their first Big Ten matchup against Ohio State was a resounding 3-0 win, but the Nittany Lions still were a bit hazardous on the attack on Tuesday, rushing the ball and seeing lots of turnovers from both sides.
Despite the wavering attack, Penn State’s defense has been the backbone this season, giving up only five goals throughout seven games against top opponents. Kris Shakes has seen his share of accolades already this season and was named NCAA Player of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
“You could just tell when he came in the summer that he’s got that different look in his eyes for the season,” captain Peter Mangione said of Shakes. “He’s just so locked in and ready to go anytime he’s called upon to save shots, to come and grab the ball across like you saw tonight. He’s unreal, we’re really happy to have him back there.”
In front of Shakes’ heroics in net is the cement of the team, his backline of Femi Awodesu, Mohamed Cisset, Matthew Henderson, Sam Ovesen, and Alex Stevenson.
“It’s not just me, it’s our team. Going into the week, that’s our game plan: to defend first. The team really came through and had my back, and I have their back,” said Shakes. “Our whole team in general has a strong relationship. Team chemistry is at 100. I’m truly grateful for Femi, Sam, Mohamed, Alex, and Henderson. Even Freddie Bell and Sean [Bettenhausen] come back and help us out too.”
The trust Shakes has in his defense and team as a whole is what gives him the motivation to put on performances game after game. He echoed Mangione’s comments from early in the season about the team’s togetherness being what will set it apart this year.
With the squad depth it’s found this year, Penn State’s starting lineup has been able to differ through the season without a dip in quality. No matter who starts for the blue and white, the core of the team stays strong, despite any rushed play or build-up struggles. And when the Nittany Lions start on the right foot and find their tempo, everything falls into place.
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