Penn State Men’s Soccer’s Resiliency In Come-From-Behind Victory Proved To Be Springboard For Remainder Of Season
Penn State men’s soccer pulled off a 2-1 upset at home against No. 12 Northwestern on Friday night, featuring both Nittany Lion captains playing a significant role in the comeback.
Femi Awodesu drilled a goal in off a deflection from the Wildcats goalie to tie the game 1-1 in the 62nd minute, and Peter Mangione followed with a goal of his own in the 73rd minute to win the game 2-1, much to the enjoyment of the fans. Ultimately, the two captains’ efforts handed Northwestern its first loss of the season.
Despite falling behind in the first half, coach Jeff Cook never had any doubt in his team. He specifically cited his team’s resilient mentality as justification for the comeback.
“We have high-character guys and winners all through our team,” Cook said. “And even though we were frustrated at halftime to be losing, I really believed maybe more than any other game this season that we were going to come back. I have such complete belief in our group. I hope that the result reinforces that and can grow within the within the squad.”
At halftime, the team talked about staying patient and waiting for its chances to come. It switched to more direct offensive plays, as seen in Mangione’s goal.
“At halftime, we really had no doubt that we’re gonna come back, we were on top of them,” Awodesu said. “As captains, it’s reassuring the guys like ‘Hey, keep doing what you’re doing.’ It was one little lapse, mistake, so the message was just to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Mangione echoed a similar message that preached about believing and staying confident as a team. Like Awodesu and Cook, he kept the faith.
“Before the game, I said no matter what happens, just keep believing. Because when we stay together, that’s the biggest advantage we could have, and the boys believed. I mean, it’s not an easy thing to do but if you believe, you can win games,” Mangione said.
This marked Awodesu’s first goal of the season and Mangione’s fourth game-winning goal. Both captains knew they were going to score. Awodesu said he simply had a feeling he was going to score a set piece tonight, while Mangione knew he would have his chance in the second half and was ready to jump on it.
The win moved the Nittany Lions to a 7-2-3 overall and 3-1-1 conference record. Penn State sits in second place in the Big Ten standings, trailing solely Northwestern. It has three conference games left in the season to attempt to jump into first.
Penn State outshot Northwestern 13-8 in a highly offensive second half, with eight shots on goal. With the end of the season approaching and the Big Ten tournament around the corner, the offensive rush is part of the momentum needed to finish strong.
“I mean, we want rings, you know?” Awodesu said. “It’s mine, Pete’s last season, possibly. And you know, Shakes has been absolutely insane this season, he’s been really locked in saving us time and time again. So we just want it, we want it really bad. So that’s really the only motivation we need.”
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About the Author
Inspired by a truly awful cut three years ago, Shaun Flaherty started cutting hair to fix some questionable cuts from the barbers in upstate New York.
“I couldn’t really think of any other place to do it because everyone is the happiest there.”
Penn State fell to under .500 for the first time this season.