by Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)
Player of the Game: Penn State senior Hasani Sinclair knocked a rebound into the goal with six minutes left in double overtime to give the Nittany Lions a big 1-0 win over Northwestern on Sunday afternoon. “We need to make a play in final third (of the field),” coach Tim Lenahan said. “We controlled the game very well, particularly in the first half. They played a high line and we got behind them a few times but we weren’t really successful in making a play. But we have a good team. Although I’m disappointed with the result, I’m not disappointed with how we played. Of the three games we lost, this is the best we’ve played.”
Game-changer: With 15 seconds left before overtime, the Wildcats launched a ball into Penn State’s box and had several chances for a close-range goal. Penn State goalkeeper went for a save on the ground but did not secure the ball, allowing an NU player to turn and shoot, but a diving Penn State defender blocked the shot. The missed opportunity would have given the Cats the win, but instead the clock ran out and play continued into overtime.
Stat of the game: The Cats had their chances offensively, outshooting the Nittany Lions 15-7, but many of them were off-target, with only five shots on goal for the game. Senior Kyle Schickel, on Senior Night, led the team with three shots on goal.
Senior legacy: The NU seniors played their final conference game at Lakeside Field, finishing with a 6-3-3 home conference record and currently sit at 12-5-5 in conference play over four years, with two Big Ten games left this season. Their 67 percent overall winning percentage is the best in school history. “This is the best Big Ten team we’ve ever had,” Lenahan said. “We won four games in the first 15 years (of the program) so that puts it into perspective, what they’ve done. This is their first Big Ten loss in two years. I think they’re Big Ten legacy is what they’ll leave—a very tough mark that will have to be challenged in the future.”
What it means: NU (10-3-2, 3-1-0 Big Ten) lost its first conference game of the season, but Indiana (10-3-2, 3-1-0) also lost its first conference game this week, a 2-1 loss to Michigan. Penn State (9-4-2, 3-1-1) moved into first place because they have played one more game than NU and Indiana, giving them a one-point lead.
What’s next: The Cats take on in-state rival Northern Illinois on Wednesday in Evanston. “Northern Illinois is always a tough team for us,” Lenahan said. “Now we really have something to play for in bouncing back from a loss.”