Despite dominating Ohio State for most of the second half, the Penn State men’s soccer team squandered a late game two-goal lead and ended in a 4-4 tie on Sunday’s Senior Day at Jeffrey Field.
The Nittany Lions (9-4-3, 3-1-2 Big Ten) looked like they had clinched a victory against the Buckeyes (6-9-2, 0-4-1 Big Ten) with a goal in the 72nd minute that pushed their lead to 4-2.
However, the Lions surrendered two Buckeye goals in the final eight minutes and couldn’t cash in on any chances in the ensuing overtime periods.
“I just don’t think I’ve been involved in a game like that in over 20 years, at least, maybe longer than that,” coach Bob Warming said. “I can’t remember being 4-2 in a game and dropping points.”
With the Lions owning a 4-2 lead, a shot by the Buckeyes’ Louie Berra flew through Penn State goalkeeper Emmanuel Martin’s hands with just under eight minutes to go to cut the lead to one goal.
Six minutes later, an Ohio State throw-in ricocheted off Penn State midfielder John Gallagher’s right leg and rolled into the back of the net for a late own goal.
Not including Sunday’s game, the Lions’ defense, which has been historically reliable in recent years, has surrendered four goals in a game just once in a span of four years.
In terms of the 2012 version of Penn State, this kind of result is uncharacteristic of the team’s defensive efforts. Prior to this game, the Lions ranked second in the conference in goals allowed per game (.72).
“It just didn’t go our way today [defensively], but we’ll take the tie and keep moving forward,” senior defender Brian Forgue said.
Although they struggled defensively, the Lions’ forwards caught some momentum in the second half and produced two goals.
Penn State’s attack, led by seniors Julian Cardona and Hasani Sinclair, was all over the place following the first half, running onto through balls and capitalizing on scoring opportunities.
Cardona ended his nine-game scoring drought with an unassisted go-ahead goal in the 65th minute on a well timed through ball.
While Buckeyes’ goalkeeper Alex Wimmer rushed out of the net to try and cut out the attack, he couldn’t get there in time as Cardona used a quick touch to get around the diving keeper and buried the shot.
With that goal, Cardona moved his career-high to six goals this season.
Just seven minutes later, Sinclair fielded a corner kick with his head and pushed the ball back up in the air. Senior midfielder Daniel Parr then used his large frame to win favorable position and bump the ball past the goalkeeper for the fourth goal.
The goal marked Parr’s first career goal and the first time the Lions scored four goals since the 2010-11 NCAA tournament game against Old Dominion.
“That’s the best [Sinclair] has maybe played all year,” said Cardona, the Lions’ leading scorer. “He just brought in a lot of energy, and we were clicking for a while. It was fun.”
While a win would have significantly helped their cause, the Lions are still in the hunt for a share of the regular season Big Ten title.
No. 16 Indiana’s 3-1 upset loss to Michigan State and Northwestern’s tie with Wisconsin gave the Lions life even though they tied on Sunday.
With the Lions finishing regular season conference play, the team will hope for a tie between Indiana and Northwestern on Nov. 1 in order to share the title with the Wildcats.
“We definitely wanted to win, but what are you going to do?” Forgue said. “We’re still in the hunt.”
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