Early deficit sinks UMass in 4-1 loss to Penn State in NCAA men’s soccer tourney

  • UMass' Yosuke Hanya drives a shot on goal during UMass' 4-1 loss to Penn State in the second round of the NCAA men's soccer tournament on Sunday in Greensboro, N.C. CARLOS MORALES/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/2/2021 5:15:34 PM

A blistering opening 45 minutes from Penn State prevented the UMass men’s soccer team from winning its first NCAA tournament game since 2007. 

The No. 12 Nittany Lions put three balls into the back of the net during the first half, paving the way to a 4-1 victory in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament on Sunday in Greensboro, N.C. 

Penn State advanced to play Georgetown on Thursday. 

“Disappointed with the result,” Minutemen coach Fran O’Leary said, “but proud of the performance. Any time you can outshoot a team but lose 4-1, it’s a bit of a strange game. Our guys gave a great account of themselves in the second half and I’m really proud of them.” 

The loss closes out the season for UMass (7-2-3), which made its first tournament appearance since 2017. 

“It’s been a terrific, unique season for us,” O’Leary said. “We were just trying to get some games in from the outset and see where it’d go and it just took off on a wild ride for us.”

The Nittany Lions (9-1-2) got on the board in the 10th minute, with a shot deflecting off a Minuteman in the box for an own-goal to give Penn State the early edge. 

Alex Stevenson added to the lead in the 22nd minute, capitalizing on a near chance by UMass on the other end. 

The Minutemen nearly scored off a cross in the box but the Nittany Lions countered and Stevenson drove to the net and sent a dribbler into the right corner of the goal that got past Minuteman keeper Marvyn Dorchin. 

“We started well,” O’Leary said. “We looked like we were on our front foot at the start but they scored one out of the blue which was a little unfortunate. We settled back in and got a grip but then we got a shot cleared off the line then they came down and scored. We didn’t deal with their counter, we had a couple opportunities to clear it.”

Penn State tallied its third unanswered to open the game in the 32nd minute, with Seth Kuhn blasting in a shot from the top of the box to put the Nittany Lions up 3-0. 

O’Leary felt the game was closer than the score indicated. 

“We found ourselves at halftime having given up five shots but given up three goals,” O’Leary said. “We were really disappointed after what was an even first half.” 

UMass’ lone tally came in the 53rd minute after the Minutemen came out of the half putting pressure on the Penn State defense. 

Ryan Levay made a move in the box and sent a shot on goal, which deflected off a Nittany Lion defender and in for an own-goal, cutting the deficit to 3-1. 

That was the lone time a ball got past Penn State keeper Kris Shakes, who came up with seven saves.

The Nittany Lions put the nail in the coffin in the 82nd, with Peter Mangioni setting up Tyger Evans beautifully for a strike in front of the net. It was Mangioni’s third assist of the game. 

Dorchin stopped one shot, with Penn State putting just four shots on goal to UMass’ seven in the contest. 

O’Leary was proud of the fight his team showed after getting into the 3-0 hole. 

“That was the most challenging halftime we’ve had because we only lost once all season,” O’Leary said. “We hadn’t gone in down like that. I expected a response but I didn’t expect one that strong. We outshot them 11-4 in the second half. We were down 3-1 but had some great chances to get it down to 3-2 and make it interesting those last 15 minutes. It’s not easy to come out when you feel you’ve given a decent account of yourself and find yourself down 3-0. We went in fantastic fashion and I’m really proud of our group.”


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