Men’s Soccer Ends Season With Sweet 16 Loss
The No. 16 Nittany Lions men’s soccer season was stopped short on Sunday night with a 2-0 loss to seventh-seeded New Mexico in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton made seven saves in the contest, doing his best to give the offense a chance to win the Sweet 16 matchup, but it wasn’t enough as the Lobos blanked the Nittany Lions.
Penn State finished the season with a 13-6-2 record, losing to a talented team in the final game of its tournament run. Penn State won its fifth Big Ten men’s soccer title this season and made its 31st NCAA Tournament appearance all-time.
New Mexico took control of the match early in the first half, darting out to a 7-1 lead in shots by the halftime intermission. Nicholas Rochowski nearly put the first goal on the scoreboard in the 39th minute with a header aimed towards the left post. Wolverton made a miraculous diving save to prevent the goal. Just four minutes later, Chrs Weham took a shot at the left side of the net from 20 yards out, again getting shut down by Wolverton who made an acrobatic save to keep the match scoreless at the halftime break.
The Lobos capitalized soon after the stoppage, scoring its first goal in the 54th minute as Michael Calderon flicked a pass to O’Brien Fisher, who chested the pass and netted the ball on a left-footed shot to give New Mexico a 1-0 lead. Just over three minutes later, the Lobos struck again off of a corner kick. Riley McGovern corralled the corner and took a shot from 10 yards out toward the left side of the goal, connecting with the back of the net to put Penn State down by two goals for the first time since a game against Rutgers in early September.
Penn State tried its best to cut into New Mexico’s deficit and advance to the next round of the NCAA Tournament, but the effort wasn’t enough. Martin Seller had a great opportunity in the 62nd minute, putting a corner kick in position for a goal but a header went wide left. Just four minutes later, Mark Wadid ripped a shot from 20 yards out that would have been good, but was just left of the goal and kept the Nittany Lions off of the scoreboard.
The Nittany Lions failed to place a shot on goal in the matchup. The New Mexico Lobos took 15 shots in the match, with nine being on target and two finding the back of the net. Penn State took just five shots with nine being on goal.
Penn State won its first NCAA Tournament road game since 1998 last week against UC Santa Barbara, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t keep its miraculous run at the national championship going against New Mexico. A good season, nonetheless.