Men's Soccer Edged by No. 13 Lehigh, 1-0, in Double Overtime
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; October 25, 2006 - The Penn State men's soccer suffered a tough 1-0 double overtime setback at the hands of No. 13 Lehigh Wednesday night at Jeffrey Field in the Nittany Lions' final home regular season contest of the 2006 season.
Lehigh netted the game-winning goal in the game's 102nd minute on a two-man rush. Freshman forward Kyle Evans crossed a pass from the right wing to sophomore midfielder Adam Gazda, who had gotten behind the Penn State defense. Gazda chipped in a one-timer from 10 yards out, giving the Mountain Hawks the victory and extending their unbeaten streak to 17 games.
Penn State seized control of the game early, creating scoring opportunities on the attack while snuffing out any Lehigh offensive forays on the defensive end. The Nittany Lions held Lehigh without a shot for much of the first half, outshooting the Mountain Hawks 7-2 by the break.
Sophomore Ryan Badaracco (Wexler, Pa.), who along with back line mate Markku Viitanen (Pirkkala, Finland) played a brilliant game on defense, also had Penn State's two best scoring chances in the opening period. In the 25th minute, senior Simon Omekanda (Rochester Hills, Mich.) chased a ball into the corner and, before it could roll past the end line, got off a crossing pass to Badaracco. From 12 yards out, he fired a shot but Lehigh goalkeeper Jim Morahan covered it for the save. Just under seven minutes later, Badaracco found himself with an open look at the net and launched a shot from 20 yards away. However, Morahan was in position and safely hauled in the attempt.
Penn State has had a great deal of success on set pieces of late and, with 12 minutes off the clock in the second half, it had an excellent chance to convert on another. Near midfield, freshman Andy Parr (Hummelstown, Pa.) lobbed a perfect pass into the box off of a free kick, targeting the hero of the Indiana game, David Gray (Lemont, Pa.). The senior made good contact with a header, but the shot fell directly into the hands of the Lehigh netminder.
In the first overtime, Simon Omekanda nearly gave Penn State the victory with a wicked one-timer. Nearing the midpoint of the first extra session, the Lions leading scorer got the ball on the left wing. He out-maneuvered a defender, spun with the ball, and rocketed a bending shot towards the goal. But, instead of finding net, it landed in the hands of Morahan. Starting in his 61st consecutive game, goalkeeper Conrad Taylor (Colorado Springs, Colo.) kept Penn State in the game with his heady and clutch play. The junior recorded three saves, two of which were diving stops.
The Nittany Lions will finish out the 2006 regular season schedule on the road, traveling to Ann Arbor to face Michigan (6-8-4, 0-2-3 Big Ten) in a 7 p.m. match-up on Sat., Oct. 28. Penn State is 6-1-1 all-time versus the Wolverines, including last season's 3-2 overtime victory at Jeffrey Field. The postseason kicks off the following week with the Big Ten Championship. To be hosted by The Ohio State University, the battle for the 2006 title is set to begin on Thurs., Nov. 2 in Columbus.
Penn State remains very much in the running to repeat as Big Ten regular seasons champions. The Lions currently sit in second place in the Big Ten standings, just one point behind Indiana and Wisconsin. Should the Hoosiers and the Badgers tie when they square off this Friday in Bloomington and Penn State beats Michigan on Saturday, the Lions will secure the regular season title and the number one seed for the 2006 Big Ten Championship.