Penn State came into Monday night’s game hoping to add to its win streak against No. 15 Pitt, but the way the home side availed itself didn’t allow for that outcome to occur.
The blue and white came into the match after a strong win against the University of Pennsylvania but lacked the same tenacity against the Panthers that it had in Philadelphia.
Starting off the game in a similar fashion as the team had in its previous two matches, the Nittany Lions made a simple mistake and found themselves down a goal early.
The goal by the Panthers sent the blue and white down an even darker tunnel as the team seemed to show no signs of life for a majority of the first half.
“When the goal goes in, you're then all of a sudden going, ‘okay well we're gonna take a heavy defeat,’ and that gets [past mistakes] on a player's mind when the game is going on,” said coach Jeff Cook.
Pittsburgh crushed Penn State in all offensive statistics in the first half tallying more shots, goals and corner kicks.
Those statistics alone prove how lopsided the first half was in Pitt’s favor.
Although Penn State found itself down early, the team showed a little spark of life a few minutes before the whistle blew which was a small silver lining for a poor first half showing.
“About 25-30 minutes into the half, we finally did snap out of the haze a little bit and said ‘okay, we're every bit as good as we can play’,” said Cook. “I am encouraged by that until you play against teams of this caliber and games of this importance which is excellent preparation for the Big Ten.”
Another potential cause for Monday night’s loss was mental and physical fatigue among the blue and white players.
MORE SOCCER COVERAGE
As full-time athletes — as well as full-time students — Penn State athletes manage both thei…
The Nittany Lions played tonight’s game on just two days of rest after just having traveled to Philadelphia to take on the University of Pennsylvania.
Even after a strong win against Penn, a loss added to the team’s record tonight can not solely be attributed to a lack of rest.
However, the fact that Penn State was able to put together a stronger second-half performance is a bright takeaway from the defeat.
“I'm so impressed with them because I thought they dug in and fought through that mental fatigue,” said Cook. “I have coached teams in the past where you get behind and it's very easy to give up, and I thought that was the furthest thing from happening tonight.”
Penn State’s hunger did not last long enough as it spanned from the latter half of the first period into the first half of the second period.
Going into the half after being badly outplayed, the players’ moods were obviously not positive.
In order to make sure the team came out of the locker room with some energy, certain players had to step up and keep the team’s chins held high.
“The captains for sure kept the attitudes positive and I really thought Alex Stevenson stepped up in the locker room. His work rate and determination is just first-class,” said Cook.
The second half began and so did Penn State’s aggression; however, the home team was not able to capitalize on any of its chances.
Down 1-0 with 20 minutes left, the blue and white showed zero resilience or energy to hopefully get it back into the game. The end of the match had a strong resemblance of the first half of the game.
Penn State ended up walking away with a 1-0 loss to an instate rival and now, it must look ahead to its first Big Ten opponent in Northwestern.
With much more rest and some film to look over, the blue and white must rediscover the energy it was lacking before Friday’s opening-conference fixture.
MORE SPORTS COVERAGE