Hoosiers Hand Lions Second Consecutive Heartbreaker
The Penn State men's soccer team (6-3-1, 1-1 Big Ten) lost its second consecutive match in the last minute Saturday night at Jeffrey Field, losing in the 105th-minute to Indiana (7-2-1, 2-0 Big Ten) by a 1-0 final score.
The Nittany Lions had previously dropped a last minute 1-0 match to Lehigh on Tuesday.
Penn State got off to a slow start on Saturday night but by the second half had regained its composure. The Lions then proceeded to control the game until the 105th minute, when Indiana’s Harrison Petts won the game with just the third visiting team goal at Jeffrey Field this year.
Penn State and Indiana came into tonight’s match boasting identical records on the season and sharing the Big Ten lead for fewest goals allowed. Through regulation, both teams lived up to their defensive standards, neither allowing a goal.
The momentum was in Indiana’s favor for the majority of the first half of play. Indiana spent most of the first half on the Penn State half of the field and took four shots on goal, compared to Penn State’s two.
"Indiana is a really good team," said senior midfielder Jacob Barron. "They've got a good attacking front and their defense is always pretty solid. This game, I thought if we put away our chances in the beginning we could have beaten them. But it didn't go that way."
Solid defense was Penn State’s key to keeping the game tied at the half. Red-shirt junior Martin Seiler played strong defense before leaving for the remainder of the half with an injury. His substitute, redshirt sophomore Eli Dennis, made a few key stops as well and the team succeeded in breaking up two Indiana corner kicks in the box.
Keeper Emmanuel Martin recorded one save in the first half and three overall on the night.
The Penn State offense came back from halftime rejuvenated, seemingly in the driver’s seat for the first ten minutes of the half. The Lions took two shots on goal in the first five minutes of play, matching the total from their first half.
Coach Bob Warming attributes the second-half success to a few improvements his team made at the half.
"The first half was kind of tense," Warming said. "The crowd was quiet, our players were quiet, both teams were afraid to make a mistake. We just made sure that our wide midfield ... could take care of the two-against-ones that were happening all the time in the first half."
Warming credited two players in particular for helping to turn the tide.
"Hasani [Sinclair] and Marvin [Ledgister] came in and did a great job, created lots of opportunities," Warming continued. “I don’t know how many goals they could have had tonight but it was more than one.”
Penn State had a few more unsuccessful scoring opportunities in the second half before Indiana brought balance back to the game.
Penn State generally outplayed the Hoosiers in the second half, though the score remained 0-0 at the end of regulation. The Lions took five shots on goal in the second half, compared to Indiana’s two. Penn State squandered multiple scoring opportunities in the half, particularly in the last five minutes as two Indiana yellow cards just outside the box resulted in two Penn State free kicks.
The Lions’ second half control of the game carried over for most of the first overtime, when Penn State had three shots on goal foiled within three minutes of each other. Indiana did not have one shot on goal that period thanks to the Penn State defense and an untimely offsides call.
Five minutes into the second overtime, Petts netted the game-winning goal for the Hoosiers, handing Penn State its second consecutive heartbreaking loss.
“We certainly had plenty of opportunities tonight to establish ourselves as the best team and we didn’t take advantage of it tonight,” said Warming. “Credit to Indiana, they’re champions, they battled right to the end.”
The team was noticeably upset by the double-overtime loss but Barron says the past two losses can fuel the team down the road.
"It's a long season," said Barron. "These two games motivate us not to let down. There's a lot more games left and we still have a good chance to make the tournament. We've got to stay positive."
Penn State travels to Michigan Saturday. The Nittany Lions return to Jeffrey October 10th for a match with Akron. Look for coverage of that game live on ComRadio at 7 p.m.
Alex Eliasof is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.