With less than 50 seconds left in the game, Penn State was stunned by a late Lehigh goal that gave them a 1-0 upset victory at home on Tuesday.
After a scuffle on the field led to red cards being issued to Penn State captain John Gallagher and Lehigh’s Brian Suchoski, the Nittany Lions (6-2-1) and Mountain Hawks (1-7-0) were forced to play with only ten players for the final three minutes of the game.
With one of Penn State’s best overall players in Gallagher out of the game, Lehigh saw an opportunity in the closing minutes and capitalized.
Right back Matt Weaver, who subbed back into the game for Lehigh in the 83rd minute, made an immediate impact, connecting on a cross from James Meyerkord for the game-winner.
The score by Weaver was the first goal surrendered by the Lions’ defense since Sept. 2 when they traveled to currently ranked No. 5 Georgetown.
Despite all of this, the Lions seemingly owned the second half, out-shooting the Mountain Hawks 13-6.
However, an offensive surge in the second half led by forward Hasani Sinclair’s four shots on goal couldn’t produce a score.
Whether it was Owen Griffith’s shot clanking off the crossbar in the 49th minute or forward Julian Cardona’s attempt sailing high in the 63rd minute, the Lions had zero luck cashing in against Lehigh.
Head coach Bob Warming thought that while the team created more chances and kept the ball on the ground better in the second half, the Lehigh goalkeepers and some unlucky bounces made it difficult to pull out the win.
While getting a late red card and not capitalizing on seven shots on goal ultimately did the Lions in, a slow start with just one shot on target in the first half didn’t help their cause.
Warming’s squad are used to sluggish starts, having been held scoreless in the first half in five of nine regular season games.
“It’s always difficult in the first half,” Warming said, “There’s always a lot of energy and high pressure from the other team makes it hard to generate clear shots.”
Going along with the pressure, Lehigh committed six fouls on the Lions in the first half, including a yellow card in the 19th minute.
“I thought there should have been two penalty kicks [in the first half],” Warming said, “…It was a pretty frustrating night for the guys.”