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By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions (0-1, 0-0, B1G) fell to the Hofstra Pride (1-0, 0-0, CAA) in a 1-0 defeat on opening night at Jeffrey Field.
"You never want to start a season off like this on your home field but we were happy with a lot of our chances," said associate head coach, Chad Duernberger. "It's a tough one for us and we are moving onto California for the next one."
History was not on the Nittany Lions side as they failed to add another win to their opening weekend record since 2011 ( now 8-2-2). In that time, the Blue and White had found a consistent amount of success on the pitch in late August, but their persistent efforts on both sides of the ball were just short of another early season victory.
"I think we did really well defensively," said goalkeeper, Evan Finney. "Besides that one shot... they really had no other opportunities, they really couldn't break us down."
With Finney in net and captain Dani Marks at the helm of the defensive efforts, Hofstra only had one corner kick opportunity and nine shots on the day.
The Hofstra Pride capitalized on one of their nine shots early in the first half. Danny Elliot, a forward for the Pride, scrambled inside the box amongst teammates and defenders for a top right shelf goal. His shot was the only one that met net on Friday night.
The one shot proved to be the achilles heal of the Nittany Lions' efforts as the rest of the match turned into a physical stalemate throughout the thirds.
"It was definitely a physical game," Duernberger said. "We had some new guys who had to adjust to the physicality of the game so that will come and now they have experienced it."
Like Duernberger mentioned, Penn State had plenty of chances as they secured 15 shots and forced eight corner kicks. Substitute forward, Christian Sload, made Hofstra's defensive third nervous in the back half of the match. He launched two rockets that deflected off of goalkeeper Alex Ashton's gloves both times and sent the crowd to the edge of their seats.
Freshman defender from the United Kingdom, Callum Pritchatt, thought the team's inability to put the ball in the net was their only blemish on the day.
"Everything, but score," said Pritchatt when asked what the team did well.
In his debut, Pritchatt was among the company of Finney, Marks and Austin Maloney as the only Nittany Lions to play the entire game. He also added another commanding defensive component to their stronghold on the backline.
"I think our new players shined," said Duernberger. "We got guys who came across the pond from Europe...This was their opportunity and I think they played well."
While some players were making their debut, others, like Finney, were stepping on the pitch for their last home opener at Jeffrey Field clad in the Blue and White with their cleats tied.
"It was a bit emotional but it also was just fun," said Finney. "The crowd was great tonight."
The Penn State Nittany Lions hope to regain their footing as they head on their California road trip. Their first matchup is against UC Irvine at 10 p.m. on Sept. 1, while they will close the west coast out against Loyola Marymount on Sept. 3 at 4 p.m.
For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.