Penn State Falls to No. 5 Stanford in First Game of Season
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Nittany Lions men’s soccer team suffered a 5-0 defeat to No. 5 Stanford Friday night at Jeffrey Field in the season opener for both teams.
The Cardinal were simply too much to handle for the Nittany Lions. Winning three out of the past four national championships, Stanford came out firing on all cylinders, utilizing its unique playstyle, which combines patient finesse with constant aggression to weaken Penn State’s strengths. Stanford freshman forward Ousseni Bouda dominated on the offensive end with three shots on target and a goal late in the second half to solidify the victory.
Penn State missed out on many opportunities to score and gain an edge in the first half. Almost 75 percent of Penn State’s time of possession before halftime was spent on the attacking side of the pitch, but the Nittany Lions shot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions with fouls, inaccurate passing and unadvised shot attempts. Penn State senior forward Christian Sload managed two shots on goal, but the attempts were easy enough to stop for flashy, athletic Stanford freshman goalkeeper Andrew Thomas. The Nittany Lions remained confident at halftime, however, as they only trailed 2-0, largely due in part to an impressive four saves by redshirt junior keeper Josh Levine.
Stanford dominated even more in the second half though, as Penn State failed to get anything going. Freshman forward Liam Butts was the lone Nittany Lion to have a shot on goal in the second half, and the defensive group appeared to be fatigued as it allowed three goals to the Cardinal to give Stanford the 5-0 victory.
Although the game did not pan out the way he wanted it, Penn State head coach Jeff Cook sees a lot of promise in his squad for the remainder of this season.
“I think people would think I’ve lost my mind, but I actually see a lot of encouraging signs from that performance,” Cook said, emphasizing the abundance of freshmen on the team and their valiant efforts. “It’s a big ask for a first-year student athlete coming in [to take on] a big task… but I think they did a good job.”
The Nittany Lions must prepare for a quick turnaround, as they will head to New York to face Stony Brook on Monday.
Jack McCune is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.