No. 12 men's soccer battles No. 16 Michigan State Saturday night

October 17, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The No. 12 Penn State men's soccer team looks to maintain its foothold on first place in the Big Ten when it hosts No. 16 Michigan State Saturday night (7 p.m.) at Jeffrey Field. All students attending the match will receive free hot chocolate.

Fans attending Penn State soccer matches at Jeffrey Field will have to comply with Penn State University's Bag Policy. Fans are advised that no bags larger than backpacks may be brought into the stadium grounds. This includes duffle bags and purses larger than 8.5" x 11" x 6" and all bags will be searched. For more information visit the Safety Policy SY44 Page or Penn State's Bag Policy Page.

Coming off its largest margin of defeat in seven years, Penn State hosts Michigan State in a crucial Big Ten tilt at Jeffrey Field. The PSU-MSU series has been hotly contested of late, with four of the past five games decided by a goal or less.

Last season, Penn State came back from 1-0 to force overtime and win in East Lansing en route to a second straight Big Ten title. For the Spartans, they'll try to win their first game at Penn State since a 4-3 barnburner on Sept. 28, 2008.

Michigan State (8-2-2, 2-1-1 Big Ten) is on a three-game winning streak since finding its scoring form over its past four matches. The Spartans have scored nine goals in that span (3-1-0) after tallying just seven goals in the first eight matches (5-1-2). Most recently, MSU beat Western Michigan, 4-0, on Wednesday after a comeback 2-1 win over Wisconsin and 1-0 victory against Akron. On the road, the Spartans are 2-1-1 this season, including a 1-0 win in their Big Ten opener at Maryland.

Michigan State boasts the toughest defense in the Big Ten, conceding only five goals, three of which came in an uncharacteristic 3-2 loss at Ohio State. The Spartans have out-scored their opponents 10-3 in the second half this season.

Individually, Jason Stacy leads the team in goals (3), assists (6) and points (12) with Zach Carroll adding three tallies. Adam Montague, Jay Chapman, Fatai Alashe, Ryan Keener and Tim Kreutz each have two goals this year. In net, Zach Bennett has started all 12 games, earning a GAA of 0.41 and a save percentage of .875.

All-Time Series: PSU leads 20-10-2
PSU Streak: 1 win
First Meeting: 10/27/91, PSU 2-1
Last Meeting: 10/20/13, PSU 2-1 (OT)
Last PSU Win: 10/20/13, 2-1 (OT)
Last MSU Win: 11/9/2012, 3-1
Largest PSU Win: 5-0, 11/5/1992
Largest MSU Win: 3-1, 11/9/2012

Penn State's 11-game unbeaten streak game to a halt at Maryland on Sunday, Oct. 12, with a 4-0 loss to the Terrapins. Maryland's Mael Corboz scored twice in the opening 45 minutes before UMD salted the game away with two second-half goals, delivering Penn State's largest margin of defeat since 2007.

The 12th-ranked Nittany Lions had their 11-game unbeaten run ended at Maryland. The 11 games matched a total set by the 1972 team that went 9-0-2. That team also lost its 12th game of the season.

Penn State has enjoyed success at Jeffrey Field with over 300 victories at the famed field. Impressively, the Nittany Lions have never posted a losing season at Jeffrey Field, going 313-77-34 all-time for a winning percentage of .779. Last season, PSU went 8-1-1 and since 2012 the Nittany Lions are 21-3-3 (.820) with a pair of Big Ten titles. Penn State is 7-0-0 this year at home and 15-1-1 the past two seasons.

In the 42-year history of the stadium, Jeffrey Field has welcomed 526,898 fans through its gates, including a season-high 4,052 in a 1-0 win over Temple (Sept. 5). PSU welcomed 5,944 fans on opening weekend in wins over Oakland and St. John's, while nearly 2,000 saw Penn State defeat Ohio State. PSU's 1-0 win over Rutgers had 2,532 fans on hand, which was the fourth-highest total of the season. The Nittany Lions are averaging 2,119 fans per game in seven contests.

At Jeffrey Field, the Nittany Lions are known to keep an even tighter lid on their own net than on the road. Senior goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton has allowed just eight goals in 1,681 minutes of action since the beginning of 2013 (0.43 GAA), collecting 52 saves through those 17 home games (15-1-1). Wolverton and the Nittany Lions conceded their first goal at home in over 614 minutes against Penn. The Quakers were the first opponent to score more than a single goal at Jeffrey Field since Oct. 27, 2012 (Ohio State, 4-4 draw). The shutout streak spanned 333 days.

Penn State completed game five of eight this past Sunday (Oct. 12) in its quest for a third straight Big Ten title. Over the past two seasons, the Nittany Lions are 9-2-0 in regular-season games, which determine the Big Ten Championship.

Since Penn State's 0-6-0 regular season in 2011, the Nittany Lions are 12-3-2 in Big Ten contests (3-1-2 in 2012, 6-1-0 in 2013, 4-1-0 in 2014). Penn State's next Big Ten opponent is a tough one: Michigan State, who looks to get within two points of the leading Nittany Lions.

Penn State dropped in ever national poll following its loss to Maryland. The NSCAA poll saw the biggest drop, nine spots, to 12th, while PSU checked in at No. 5 (College Soccer News), No. 7 (Soccer America) and No. 9 (Top Drawer Soccer). PSU fell four spots to 12th in the NCAA RPI.

Penn State has been near the top of the national charts in multiple statistical categories this season.

Team Ranks
Win Percentage 4th (.875)
Shutout Percentage 2nd (0.75)
Team GAA 13th (0.57)
Save Percentage 11th (.863)
Total Assists 16th (24)

Connor Maloney Ranks
Game-Winning Goals 2nd (5)
Total Goals 15th (8)
Total Points 20th (18)

Andrew Wolverton Ranks
GAA 11th (0.57)
Save Percentage 14th (.860)

Brian James Ranks
Total Assists 13th (6)

The Nittany Lions feature one of the top goalkeepers in the nation with senior Andrew Wolverton patrolling the goal area. The 2013 Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year and NSCAA All-Great Lakes First Team honoree has returned with a pair of career Penn State records in his sights, one of which was achieved Sept. 28 at Michigan.

Wolverton currently sits first in PSU records in goals-against average (0.74) and shutouts (31). Already the single-season record holder in shutouts (12 in 2012), Wolverton eclipsed the career record in front of his family on Sunday, Sept. 28 with a clean sheet against Michigan.

As for GAA, Wolverton looks to break Whit Gibson's mark of 0.78 set during his two seasons in Happy Valley (1998-99). Wolverton's save percentage is also impressive at .805 to back up a 35-18-8 career record in net.

This season, Wovlerton has racked up shutout streaks of 321 minutes, 22 seconds and 517 minutes, 42 seconds. The latter streak was to open the season as Wolverton was the final starting goalkeeper in Division I to allow a goal, which occurred on Sept. 24. He is 9-1-0 this season with eight shutouts.

Among the elite coaches in the sport for the last three decades, head coach Bob Warming is back for his fifth season at Penn State. Warming has an incredible coaching pedigree, including 438 career Division I victories -- third all-time among active DI coaches and ninth all-time at D-I. He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2013 after leading PSU to a pair of league titles.

At Penn State, Warming picked up win No. 50 as the Lions won 3-0 over Saint Francis on Tuesday, Sept. 16. He is 55-29-11 at PSU.

Penn State gets back into a stretch of two-games-a-week when it hosts West Virginia Wednesday night at 7 p.m. before welcoming Wisconsin on Sunday at 2 p.m. Sunday will be Penn State's annual THON Day and Senior Day. 

Last Updated October 17, 2014