Dave Baker's day Saturday began with him starting in net for the Penn State men's lacrosse team.
It ended with him on the sidelines as teammates put their arms around him and as he tried to keep his emotions in check as he walked off the Holuba Hall turf.
Baker got the start instead of junior John Nichols, and the former Ice Lions defenseman struggled through a nightmarish first quarter that set the tone for the Nittany Lions' 24-17 season-opening loss Saturday to Robert Morris.
"I'll give it the worst possible rating I can possibly give it, and then lower than that," Baker said with a shaky voice of his performance Saturday. "I felt OK coming out and just couldn't see the ball. Just sucks to know you could've played mediocre, and we would've won."
It started off well for Baker, who had an early lead after Colton Vosburgh scored. But that lead lasted for all of eight seconds before the Colonials' Keith Lee tied the game. Robert Morris then slowly started to take the game over, putting goal after goal behind Baker.
Nichols entered the game with 5:19 left in the first quarter -- as planned by Penn State coach Glenn Thiel earlier in the week -- but only after Baker had allowed eight goals in less than 10 minutes. Nichols allowed four more goals before the quarter ended, and the Lions allowed 12 goals in the first quarter -- as many as they did in their double-overtime loss to RMU last season.
Baker went back in to start the second quarter but followed it up by allowing three more goals before Nichols went back in for good.
"I think I could've made more saves," Nichols said. "I think I made some saves, but I don't think I played that great. It was a tough situation to get thrown into when you're down so much and not seeing so much. I needed to kind of warm up when I was in there."
Though Nichols improved as the game went on and Penn State made a late push, the damage had already been done: 24 goals on 40 shots. It's the second-most goals Penn State has allowed under Thiel, the most since the Lions allowed 25 against North Carolina in 1993 and five fewer than the school-record for goals allowed -- 29 against Navy in 1959.
Robert Morris scored on 60 percent of its shots, while Penn State scored on only 22.6 percent. And perhaps the most telling statistic: Robert Morris had 29 saves. Penn State had only six.
"They obviously have to get better," Thiel said. "They only took 40 shots, they scored 24 goals and they missed the cage on some, so we just had a few saves, we might've had single-digits. You gotta be 50 percent, if they score 24 goals, you should have 25 saves. We didn't have it."
Baker had to watch the rest of the game after allowing 11 goals in 13:35 of playing time with no saves. And while he was disappointed about his performance, he was quick to point out he was not making any excuses.
"I felt good that even after the first quarter, Coach still had confidence to put me back in despite me not changing anything," Baker said. "I won't let this, whatever this was today, ever happen again. And I won't let us score 17 goals and not win a lacrosse game."