With less than 30 minutes remaining in the second half, the Penn State men’s soccer team held a 2-0 lead and seemed to be in control of the game.
However, the momentum quickly changed as Stetson rallied for three goals in a span of 20 minutes and defeated the No. 15 Nittany Lions, 3-2, Friday night in Columbus, Ohio.
The loss kept head coach Bob Warming at 399 career wins. He will have another chance at 400 victories when the Lions (2-1) play Florida International at 11 a.m. on Sunday in Columbus.
Penn State found the goal early against Stetson, scoring two goals in the first five minutes of the game.
Junior forward Julian Cardona scored his second goal in as many games in the first minute, giving Penn State an early 1-0 lead.
The Lions would strike again in the fifth minute, when they were awarded a penalty kick, which junior midfielder Minh Vu converted to extend their lead to 2-0.
Despite the lead, Penn State would face another challenge other than the opposing team. High temperatures became a factor as the game wore on, presenting the Lions with an unfamiliar scenario.
The heat took a toll on some players, who would need to be rotated in and out during the course of the game, something the Warming said was new to this team.
“In all of our training this year, we’ve never seen a day like this,” he said. “Guys had a hard time with the heat.”
It was as hot as 95 degrees in Columbus during the day Friday, and exhaustion helped open the door for Stetson in the second half.
The score would for about 15 minutes to begin the half, but Stetson countered with a goal in the sixty second minute to make the score 2-1.
After the goal, the Lions pushed back to extend their lead once again but failed to do so. Warming said the team may have been too aggressive trying to put another shot in the net.
The score would not stay that way for long, as the Hatters continued to apply the pressure and scored a game-tying goal 12 minutes later.
Warming credited Stetson for their ability to stay composed with the ball and stay on the attack.
With the momentum shifted in their favor, the Hatters eventually seized control of the game for good.
With nine minutes to play, Stetson scored again to take the lead 3-2, which proved to be enough for the victory.
“We just shut down too early,” senior defender Brian Forgue said. “We couldn’t close it out.”
After recording two shut-outs to start the season, allowing three goals in 20 minutes is something the team has been working to avoid.
Warming said that despite allowing the comeback, it was being too aggressive, not complacency, that cost his team.
“We have to a better job of managing the game,” he said. “Time’s on our side.”
With a game on Sunday, the Lions will try and move past the tough defeat. Forgue said the team can take a lesson away from the game but they will forget the result.
Despite the loss, Warming said the Lions will be able to take something away from Friday’s game.
“It’s a long season and we’ll learn from it,” he said.