The cold, windy weather did not help the Penn State men’s soccer team’s defense against Ohio State on Sunday. The Nittany Lions back line had some defensive miscues that left Buckeye players with scoring opportunities, resulting in two Ohio State goals in the final ten minutes to tie the game at 4-4.
The first breakdown came early on when Buckeye forward Chris Hegngi dribbled into the box and sent the ball to fellow forward Kenny Cunningham who was unmarked in front of the goal. Cunningham hit a quick shot on net, but Lion goalkeeper Emmanuel Martin was able to block and fall on the ball to snuff out the scoring chance.
It’s just little things on organization,” said midfielder John Gallagher, “always staying switched on and tuned in, but besides that we’ve got a solid back line.”
Ohio State’s first goal came in the 13th minute when Brady Wahl crossed the ball from the left side of the box and found Cunningham all alone. Cunningham had time to settle the pass and then beat Martin to score and tie the game at 1-1.
“It was a team issue on the goals,” said coach Bob Warming. “It’s not the guy flicking the ball who’s gonna score, it’s the guy in the back half of the goal and we let down a little bit there.
The Buckeyes again found a weak spot in the Lion defense when Wahl sent a pass into the box that left Hegngi alone in front of the net. The forward, with only the goalkeeper to beat, shot the ball across the goal past Martin and in to the back corner of the net.
“We have some things to tighten up,” said defender Brian Forgue. “Especially keeping our focus looking forward.”
The third goal came within the final minutes of the game, Ohio State forward Louie Berra took the ball into the box and hit a shot that went right through Emmanuel Martin’s hands.
The toughest goal to swallow was scored just minutes later when a ball deflected off a defender and into the Lion’s net as an own goal.
“We never like to let in four goals,” Forgue said, “but we were lucky our offense picked us up today and got us a tie. We’re gonna come to training and close up those gaps and hit the end of the year hard.”
It was a rough way to end Senior Day, but the Lions will have time to shore up the gaps, as they face Penn before heading into the Big Ten tournament.
“I’m happy for the seniors and I told them we’re not done,” said Warming. “We’ve got a lot more to play, the second season starts pretty soon.