With a big win comes big rewards, and Penn men’s soccer is reaping the rewards of their 3-0 shutout at Penn State last Thursday.
The Quakers (1-2-1) made the trip out to Happy Valley, Pa. to take on the nationally-ranked No. 14 Nittany Lions (2-1-2) and returned a happy bunch behind the heroics of senior midfielder Michael Hewes and senior goalkeeper Nick Christoffersen. Penn had not bested its Keystone State rivals since 2008, and had never pulled off a victory without home-field advantage before Thursday.
For Hewes, a busy second half gave the Red and Blue all the edge it needed to finish on top come the final whistle, as his career-first hat trick came at the perfect time. The match was filled with several firsts for Hewes, as his career-first penalty kick attempt met the back of the net for Penn’s third goal — sealing Penn State’s fate with less than two minutes left to play.
With the hat trick, Hewes is already halfway to his goal total in 2022 of six. If this year’s campaign is anything like his last, the senior will be finding the back of the net in many more clutch moments to come.
As for Christoffersen, his impressive performance between the posts was much needed. Severely outshot 17-9, Christoffersen’s tenth career shutout kept the Quakers away from a brutal blowout. Picking up right where he left off, the win marked his first clean sheet of 2023 after notching seven in 2022. The senior tallied six saves for his most impressive outing since recording eight against Dartmouth back on Oct. 16, 2021.
The two’s efforts swept the Ivy League’s weekly honors as Hewes was awarded Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week and Christoffersen was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week. But as if that wasn’t enough, Hewes also snagged the Penn Athletics Student-Athlete of the Week honor and a feature on College Soccer News’ Team of the Week.
Nationally-ranked teams aren’t unfamiliar to the Red and Blue, as the team took down then-No.15 Cornell in a 3-2 road victory last season — arguably marking the turning point of last year’s campaign which ended in an Ancient Eight crown and NCAA second round appearance.
The victory was Penn men’s soccer’s first of the season after the team dropped its first two to Fordham and Hofstra in a trip to New York State over Labor Day Weekend. Upon their return, the Quakers wrapped up their four-game road trip to open the season with a scoreless draw at Rider.
It’s been tough out of the gate for the Red and Blue, but the season is still young and glimpses of that 2022 squad that brought an Ivy League title to Penn for the first time since 2013 are there. The team welcomes University at Albany (3-3) next for its home opener on Saturday, and maybe home-field advantage will be the spark the Quakers need to get this season shining as brightly as last.