Pine-Richland grad Klingenberg steps up offense for Penn State soccer
By Jeff Vella
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 10:09 p.m.
Penn State soccer player Drew Klingenberg said he would love to write an autobiography someday.
His experiences in the past two Big Ten games probably could fill a chapter.
Klingenberg, a Pine-Richland graduate, scored his first collegiate goal against then-No. 14 Michigan State and added an assist in the 2-1, double-overtime victory Oct. 20.
“It was probably one of the most thrilling experiences of my life so far,” Klingenberg said of the goal, which helped earn him Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.
On Sunday, he had another assist as the No. 13 Nittany Lions beat No. 19 Northwestern, 2-1, in double overtime to clinch their second straight Big Ten regular-season title.
Klingenberg, a sophomore midfielder, also started and played a season-high 85 minutes against Northwestern. That's significant for someone whose playing time has fluctuated this fall.
“My biggest problem as a player is my mental game,” said Klingenberg. “I think I was in a little bit of a funk, and that kind of held me back.
“I tend to overanalyze the game all the time. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself because I do want to perform, and I want to help my team win.”
The goal against Michigan State, a perfectly placed shot from 30 yards that Klingenberg admits he has watched more than a few times on YouTube, has provided a “huge confidence boost.”
Penn State coach Bob Warming praised Klingenberg's improved two-way play, although it's the offense that stands out.
“He has such great feet,” Warming said. “I think that's the first thing people see is how quick his feet are. For me, I think it's his vision. He's one of those guys who can find the player that's not the immediate option.”
Klingenberg perfected some of his technical skills at an early age. He had a small goal in his backyard growing up, and he had a worthy opponent for 1-on-1 games: older sister Meghan, now a member of the U.S. national team and a professional player in Sweden. Predictably, the backyard games weren't always friendly.
“I remember some days where it would get really bad to the point where my parents would be like ‘OK, you guys are done. I understand you two are competitive, and I don't care who won. I just don't want anyone getting hurt,' ” Drew said.
Drew, who is five years younger, said their games were pretty evenly matched. Meghan, though, recalls it differently.
“I would win a lot. Almost every time,” she said with a laugh. “And he would get so mad.”
The sibling rivalry carried indoors, too, where Drew said, “We were the type of family that couldn't even have a family board-game night because it got so competitive.”
Things turned out well for both Klingenbergs. While Drew said he'd love to play soccer professionally, he also is starting to think about life after Penn State.
“I'm still kind of figuring it out,” he said. “I've always been labeled as Drew the soccer player. I kind of want to search for my passion when soccer is not there anymore.”
But, once and for all, who is the better soccer player?
“She's going to kill me, but I would say me,” Drew said. “When someone asks her, she usually gives me the benefit of the doubt and says me. She's super nice.”
“Of course I'd say me. That's only the competitivess coming back.”
Sounds like that debate could be another chapter in Drew's autobiography.
Jeff Vella is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JeffVella_Trib.
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