‘Madness’: Kris Shakes Extends Penn State Men’s Soccer’s Postseason Run With Brilliant Penalty Kick Performance
It came down to the fifth and final penalty kick in Penn State men’s soccer’s Big Ten semifinal matchup with Ohio State to decide the game. With goalkeeper Kris Shakes on the line and in between the pipes, he dove to his left and made one of the most critical saves of his Nittany Lion career.
Moments after Shakes secured a win with his sprawling save and slid on his knees toward the sideline in celebration, it set in that Penn State men’s soccer clinched a spot in the Big Ten Tournament Championship against Indiana on Sunday.
ONTO THE ‘SHIP— Penn State Men’s Soccer (@PennStateMSOC) November 9, 2023
Penn State takes it in a penalty shootout pic.twitter.com/v1Q3PlLCBp
Freshman Samson Kpardeh scored the lone goal in regulation for the Nittany Lions after Penn State went down 1-0 as a result of an early Buckeye penalty kick conversion. In just the span of a single match, Kpardeh watched Penn State’s hero of the match switch from him to Shakes as the Nittany Lions avoided a devastating loss at home.
“[It was] madness, honestly,” Kpardeh said about Shakes’ game-winning save. “I can’t wait to play in my first final.”
Shakes was named the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year and has been the brick wall man in the net all year for the Nittany Lions. The Parkland, Florida, native recorded eight clean sheets this year in 18 matches. He has let in only 14 goals all year during his final season wearing the blue and white.
With the season on the line and heading into the penalty kicks, head coach Jeff Cook had all the confidence in the world in his star keeper that he would come up with at least two saves. Cook and Shakes may have had the slowest heartbeats of anyone inside of Jeffrey Field.
“I actually said before the shootout started… be confident in your preparation and training and go take care of penalties, but we all knew that Kris was going to save at least two,” Cook said.
Shakes did just that and now he and the rest of the Nittany Lions have a chance to win another trophy on Sunday.
Very few have had a more storied career for the Penn State men’s soccer program than Shakes. He was a part of the 2021 team that brought home a Big Ten regular-season and tournament title to Happy Valley. He was as disappointed as anyone when Penn State didn’t make the NCAA Tournament after being knocked out of the Big Ten quarterfinals a year ago.
“It means the world to the guys to play in another Big Ten final for my last year and our last year, so we just want to get it done,” Shakes said. “That’s what we’ve been dreaming up since that season ended last year.”
All of the disappointment that Shakes and the other seniors like captains Femi Awodesu and Peter Mangione felt last season can be reversed this time around. It starts with more confident play from Shakes and the rest of the players on the pitch.
Confidence has brought the team to where it is now and that preparation will continue to put Penn State in positions to win moving forward. Shakes leads the team just as much as the two captains do, and his leadership continues to breed success for this year’s team and future teams.
“The thought I have right now is just how incredibly proud I am of the guys,” Cook said. “Part of that is physical, but a huge part is mentality and togetherness. And our team has that competitive spirit and desire like maybe no team I’ve ever worked with.”
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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.