Matthew Henderson Settling Into Penn State Men’s Soccer Culture
In the summer of 2022, Matthew Henderson took a trip from Larkhall, Scotland, over the Atlantic to State College, Pennsylvania.
Henderson made his first appearance for the Penn State men’s soccer team just a few weeks later before having the time to truly settle into the American college culture.
“Obviously in my first semester, you’re still new to the school and the area, and the actual campus is so huge you sometimes find yourself having to rush around looking for where the next class is taking place – which was a completely new experience for me,” Henderson told FirstPoint USA in March.
Despite still settling in, Henderson had an excellent first season with the Nittany Lions, recording three assists in 13 appearances while starting in 12 games during his true freshman season. Henderson was also named to the postseason Big Ten All-Freshman Team for his performances.
Henderson’s breakout first season meant elevated expectations for the ex-Rangers FC academy player going into 2023. Fortunately, with a year under his belt, Henderson is feeling more comfortable than ever heading into the final stretch of the season.
“I feel extremely settled in right now,” Henderson said. “I feel in a much better position now than I was in last year.”
Figuring out life at Penn State has not only helped Henderson feel better off the field but also helped him on it. After beginning to assimilate into the culture, Henderson has started all 12 games for the Nittany Lions this year and has already matched his assists from last year with four games and the postseason left to play.
In a sport where international players are becoming increasingly popular, stories like Henderson’s are a big reason. Penn State has seven rostered players who are from outside the United States, and they’re a vital part of the team both now and in the future.
Henderson often takes time to reflect on his experiences in the United States during the past two years. While it’s surely been stressful at some points, right now, the defender is in a great place both physically and mentally.
“I am really enjoying my time. My teammates are great and all of the coaches, too. I just love State College in general,” Henderson said. “Yeah, I am just really doing good.”
Henderson advocated for more international players to come to universities in America, especially Penn State. The Scotsman believes that the top-notch schooling and endless opportunities that extend beyond the four years of undergraduate education are hard to find anywhere else.
“The whole experience in general, [Penn State] is unlike anything else and the facilities are great,” Henderson said. “So, I have had a great time so I would definitely recommend [it].”
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