In its first road game of the season, a lethargic start cost the Penn State men’s soccer team as it was defeated 2-1 by No. 21 Georgetown on Sunday in Washington, D.C.
The Nittany Lions (3-1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) had just one day of rest between Friday night’s victory over Duquense and their contest against a talented and possession-oriented Hoyas (4-0) club.
However, there was more than one reason for the team’s quick turn-around.
Not only was the team’s Friday night game pushed back to accommodate Football Eve, but the team also decided to show its support at the football opener on Saturday when the players could have been traveling to Georgetown.
While it may have affected the play on the pitch, coach Bob Warming wouldn’t change either of the decisions.
“In the short run it wasn’t the smartest thing, but in terms of life experience they [the team] are going to remember that Friday night game and being at Beaver Stadium to support the football team,” Warming said.
Tiredness and fatigue showed early on as Georgetown dominated the first half, out-shooting the Lions 14-0 and earning four corner kicks in the first 15 minutes.
After continuously applying pressure to Lions’ goalkeeper Emmanuel Martin, who had three saves in the contest, the Hoyas got on the scoreboard with an own-goal by Penn State in the 24th minute.
Considering the opportunities the Hoyas had and the lack of production by the Lions, Penn State was fortunate to go into halftime down just one score.
After the Lions found their second wind, the second half looked promising for Warming’s squad early on.
“After being absolutely exhausted, the team beared down and not one of the players gave up as they continued to fight and work hard,” Warming said.
One major change the Lions made at halftime was switching from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-3-3.
Not only did the updated formation add an extra forward, but it also played three center midfielders as opposed to two in the first half, which helped the team immensely.
“With two center mids out there Georgetown were finding gaps and our guys had to cover a lot of ground, but the 4-4-3 helped us keep the ball and bunch things up in the middle defensively,” defender Brian Forgue said.
The formation change made its impact immediately as Penn State gained control of possession early and evened the score.
In the 53rd minute, Penn State junior defender Akil Howard whipped a cross into the middle where midfielder Marvin Ledgister scored the game-tying goal.
The score was Ledgister’s first of the season and Howard’s assist was his first point in a Penn State kit.
However, the Lions’ bubble was burst shortly afterward as the Hoyas notched the game-winning goal just 52 seconds following Ledgister’s score, making it 2-1.
Even though the Lions couldn’t equalize, they had their fair share of opportunities on goal in the closing minutes of the game.
Following the go-ahead score, Penn State out-shot Georgetown 7-5, with the majority of those shots testing Hoyas’ goalkeeper Tomas Gomez.
The Lions’ best chance to equalize came in the final four minutes of the contest.
Following an attempt on goal that just sailed high by Lions’ midfielder Eli Dennis, the team’s leading goal-scorer Julian Cardona had a promising breakaway run in the 87th minute.
Despite the run, Cardona couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity as Gomez ended Penn State’s rally with a game-ending save.