By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time this season, Bob Warming and his team found themselves on the other side of the box score after a 2-1 loss at Georgetown on Sunday.
Penn State (3-1) came out slow in the first half and then played an impressive
second half, in the eyes of their head coach.
"It wasn't that we were that bad, it was that they were really, really good," said Warming. "The thing I enjoyed about the team was that even though they were exhausted and that it was hot, they just fought like crazy in the second half to put themselves back in the game."
Now after a three day layoff the Nittany Lions will play host to another tough opponent in No. 22 ranked West Virginia (2-2). The Mountaineers have already faced off against defending national champs North Carolina and a top 20 team in Wake Forest.
The way West Virginia has battled against both of those opponents has alerted Warming and he knows the match won't be an easy one for his team.
"We haven't beat West Virginia since 1990 and that is a long time," he said. "They played UNC Chapel Hill who is undefeated this year and UNC had one shot in the first half at home. They are a pretty tough out."
For players like senior defender Brian Forgue, they will look back on the Georgetown loss and use what they learned about themselves to prepare for the Mountaineers.
"We showed what this team is capable of in terms of keeping the ball on the ground and flow of play and not losing our cool when we are down 1-0," said Forgue. "If anything it showed resiliency and I think that is a great quality to have in a successful team."
Senior midfielder Julian Cardona also learned from the way they played against Georgetown and said that the team must play a better first half to be successful in the second half.
"We can play with anybody we just have to have the right mindset starting the game," said Cardona.
West Virginia brings a very athletic team to Jeffery Field Thursday night and the ongoing improvement on the defensive side of the ball will be important for the Nittany Lions. With four new players on the defense, including a new goalkeeper in Emmanuel Martin, the transition wasn't going to be easy, but progress is being made.
"There is always things that we can work on," said Forgue. "We will get the communication down. It is certainly starting to pick up and that is a vital thing to being successful."
Warming acknowledged that the season is early and his defensive unit will not adjust right away, but the main positive is that they have only lost one game through the first four of a very early season.
"We just can't expect it to happen right away," said Warming. "Having said that, we have lost one game in seven now including the exhibition and the guys are doing okay."
The Penn State offense, which has scored eight goals in four games has been dominant on the offensive side of the ball and the success of their goal scorers, specifically Cardona, forward Danny Burnham and midfielder Minh Vu has helped the defense transition.
"Those three guys have put in the work and they certainly help us offensively in terms of production and work rate," said Forgue. "We need that especially against an opponent like West Virginia who is big, athletic so we are definitely going to need those guys to show up and all of our guys to show up, but those three will be pretty key."