Sophomore Matthew Henderson Shining As Penn State Men’s Soccer’s Unsung Hero
Penn State men’s soccer is moving on to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals and taking on Ohio State at home on Wednesday, November 8. This season, the team has only lost three games and claimed a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.
While the main names behind these victories may be senior captains Femi Awodesu and Peter Mangione, defender Matthew Henderson has been an unsung hero for the Nittany Lions thus far. Through Henderson’s 17 appearances, he’s registered one goal and five assists.
Henderson has played in every one of Penn State’s games this season and is an integral part of every aspect of play from defending to creating big chances on set pieces. The left back had an assist in the quarterfinal win against Rutgers, and his free kick setting up Mohamed Cisset’s goal.
“His delivery is high quality, and when you work on the set piece routines and movements that you want, it doesn’t really matter unless you have the quality to put the ball in the right areas,” head coach Jeff Cook said. “I think Matthew does that very consistently, so [I’m] delighted for him to be involved in that goal and some other good deliveries in addition to the one we scored on.”
As a defender, Henderson helped lead the team to its eight clean sheets, making pivotal blocks each game. Despite consistently overlapping and joining the attack, Henderson never gave away a goal and stood out on the field with his quick switch to get back and defend.
“He’s crazy,” Mohamed Cisset said. “You need this type of craziness in your team. In the first half, he was screaming at everybody like ‘Guys, wake up, wake up.’ You need someone like him. He’s just great.”
The energy Henderson brings can not only be seen during the game but also postgame as he leads the celebrations with his teammates. The second any big play is made or the final whistle blows, Henderson is right there jumping with his teammates and being the loudest on the field, especially when “One Kiss” plays after a victory.
One of the core pieces for the Nittany Lions, Henderson will be a leader for the team as it continues its tournament run. His spark helped the Nittany Lions push past Rutgers after falling earlier in the season and will propel them into Wednesday’s game.
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