State College, Pa. - The Nittany Lions will make their first appearance in the Penn State University Athletic Conference men's soccer championship since 2012 and look to bring home their first PSUAC title since the 2003 season. Hazleton surpassed their first hurdle with Monday's semifinal win at Penn State Beaver and on Wednesday, November 2, will face the only other PSUAC squad to defeat them during the regular season in the form of top seeded Penn State Brandywine. Brandywine topped the Nittany Lions 5-2 back on October 18 and are eager to reclaim the crown after slipping in the postseason a year ago.
Players to Watch
Penn State Brandywine
#7 Bill Walleekendeh - A two-time All-American, Walleekendeh led the United States Collegiate Athletic Association with 41 goals and 88 total points in 2016. The speedy senior went for one score and one assist in the previous matchup on October 18.
#2 Brad Jule - Perhaps Brandywine's finest all-around player, Jule ranks second on the team in the major statistical categories. Jule's 13 goals and 11 assists out of the midfield make him a player the Lion's must keep watch of in the open field.
#14 Anthony Neufville - Brandywine's third leading scoring, Neufville surprised Hazleton with a pair scores off the bench in the team's previous contest.
#00 Joe Opdenaker - Combined with a stout defense, the Brandywine keeper surrendered the second fewest goals in the PSUAC and holds the top average for goals allowed per game at 1.16.
Penn State Hazleton
#2 Kyle Venditti (Berwick, Pa.) - The senior forward broke his own single season scoring record with 25 goals to lead the Hazleton squad. Venditti has twice been name USCAA All-American and trails only Walleekendeh with 63 total points on the season.
#10 Ben Pasukinis (Benton, Pa.) - The sophomore broke out in 2016, tallying 23 goals and 11 assists this season, ranking him 5th in the USCAA with 57 points. Pasukinis tallied a first half goal in the October 18 game against Brandywine and came of the bench to score a pair of goals in Hazleton's semifinal win over Beaver.
#6 Moussa Diouf (Carteret, Nj.) - The freshman forward has burst onto the scene as the third leading scorer for the Nittany Lions. in his past three games, Diouf has come through with at least one score and one assist in each game.
#00 Brandon Yocum (Bloomsburg, Pa.) - The freshman goalkeeper has been named USCAA goalkeeper of the week twice in 2016 and touts the highest save percentage in the PSUAC. Yocum's three penalty kick stops following two scoreless overtime periods in the semifinal round helped send the Lions to the championship game.
Wednesday's PSUAC championship game will be held at 4:00 p.m. on the West Campus Turf Field on White Course Drive in State College, PA 16801. Click here for directions. The winner of Wednesday's finale will earn not only the coveted Henson Trophy, but a bid to the USCAA national championships in Virginia Beach, Va. as the number six seed in the tournament.