You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
featured

Old problems reared their head for Penn State men's soccer in NCAA Tournament loss | Opinion

Men's Soccer Big 10 Championships

Penn State's men's soccer team huddle on the soccer field as they prepare for the championship game against Indiana at Jeffery Field on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021 in University Park, Pa. The Nittany Lions beat Indiana 3-0.

Well, if it were a boxing match, the towel would have been thrown in and in a way, it was.

Penn State’s season came to a horrendous end on Sunday in front of its own home crowd at the hands of Hofstra.

The Nittany Lions lost 8-2 to the Pride after giving up a quick goal in the first five minutes to Hofstra and two more in the first half, amounting to a 3-0 deficit entering halftime.

The team had been playing its best soccer of the season throughout the Big Ten Tournament, leading to a Big Ten Championship.

However, the blue and white looked lost on Sunday in its second round loss to Hofstra in a game that's final score looked like a football score from the 1940’s.

To say that Penn State’s season was on life support entering halftime is an understatement, as the team had no consistent offense and could not compete on defense throughout the first 45 minutes.

That life support practically ran out seconds into the second half, as Hofstra put the finishing touches on its victory with a goal in the 46th minute, pushing its lead to four.

After that point, the Nittany Lions essentially gave up.

What the root was of the blue and white’s massive loss is unknown. Hofstra is clearly a very good, well-rounded and deep soccer team, but are they eight goals better than Penn State? It’s very unlikely.

At times during the season when the Nittany Lions were down early at home, the loud and hungry students in attendance motivated and pushed the team to keep fighting.

With Thanksgiving break afoot, though, the student presence at Jeffrey Field was a fraction of what it normally is, even at the start of the game.

Additionally, Penn State entered the game as the No. 12-seed in the tournament, while Hofstra was not given a seeding rank.

MORE SOCCER COVERAGE

It is improbable that coach Jeff Cook would allow his team to overlook the Pride, but that doesn’t mean that it didn't happen.

Penn State also struggled throughout the season with non-conference opponents, going just 7-4-1 against its non-Big Ten foes.

Ultimately, Penn State’s end to its season was definitive of the way the team played all throughout the season — inconsistent.

During regular season play, the blue and white consistently found itself behind, having to battle back into games.

Sometimes the team completed the comeback and won, and sometimes it didn't.

Outside of Sunday’s game, Penn State surrendered the first goal of the game ten times throughout the season, with half of those goals coming in the first 12 minutes of the match.

In those games, Penn State went 4-6.

Despite the team’s potent offense and goal-scoring potential, it has struggled in games throughout the season to play a full 90 minutes, and especially to come out firing from the first whistle.

It seemed as if these early-game woes were behind the Nittany Lions as they dominated throughout the Big Ten Tournament, not surrendering a single goal let alone an early goal to put themselves at a deficit.

These bad habits reared their ugly head, though, in the team’s first and only game in the NCAA Tournament.

The blue and white came out flat-footed, almost appearing as if they already had the game won.

For a team that had so much talent, skill and promise, its season ended in unceremonious fashion, a crushing defeat in a game many expected the Nittany Lions to win.

This team will go down in Penn State history as not only a team that won a Big Ten Championship, but also a team that, in reality, fell short when it hit the national spotlight.

MORE SOCCER COVERAGE

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.

Support Student Journalism

Your contribution will help the Collegian provide award winning journalism to the Penn State community and beyond.

Donate to the Collegian by clicking the button below.

Newsletters