Howard prevails on last shootout kick

Tom Esterly
Date Published: 
Daily Collegian

A disappointing season ended in the worst way for the soccer team in the Lions' 2-1 overtime loss to Howard University yesterday at Jeffrey Field in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

With the team leading 1-0, Penn State fans cheered when the announcer signaled one minute left in the second overtime period. Twenty-five seconds later they stood stunned as the Bison's Anthony Laird tied the score to send the game into a game-deciding shootout. Howard (13-3-2) converted three of its five one-on-one kicks to Penn State's two, capping a frustrating season for the Lions (10-11-2).

"It's over," senior co-captain Jan Skorpen said, looking down. "There's nothing else to say."

"I was saying 'Unlucky Penn State, unlucky Penn State,' " Howard's Peter Isaacs said. "We really didn't play well enough to win this game, but I guess everything happens for a reason."

"Somebody once said the Joy of victory never equals the agony of defeat," Coach Barry Gorman said. "It always tough to take the loss, especially in these circumstances here, especially when you know you were the better team."

Penn State controlled the ball for most of the game, taking 23 shots on goal to Howard's 10. The Lions took 16 corner kicks, compared to five for Howard, but a solid Bison defense kept the ball out of the net.

Impressive play by two young goalies, freshman Mike Imm for Penn State and sophomore All-American candidate Shaka Hislop for Howard, kept the game scoreless until the second overtime period at the 107:27 mark, when Skorpen scored off a penalty kick after forward Steve Frantz was fouled in front of the net.

With the crowd hushed, Skorpen fired the shot. Hislop dove the wrong way and the ball flew in the net untouched. The goal increased Skorpen's career points to 113, passing Chris Bahr for second on the all-time scoring list. It was Skorpen's first goal since Oct. 10.

The Bison's tying score with 35 seconds left came when Howard's Peter Isaacs advanced the ball on a breakaway. Imm dove for Isaacs' shot and it bounced off his hand and flew to Laird, who returned the ball to the net. Imm was unable to recover in time and the ball flew into the net.

After the two 15-minute periods of overtime play have expired, the game is decided in a shootout, in which five players from each team take shots on the goal. The win goes to the team with the most goals after the five shots.

After the first nine players shot, the score was tied with two goals each, Danny Kelly and Frantz putting the ball in for the Lions and Laird and Mike Williams converting for the Bison.

Bison Chris Thomas ended the Lions' season on the next kick, which soared beyond Imm's reach. Howard's crowd charged the field as Penn State fans stood silent in the stands.

"Our team was in this position three or four times before," Thomas said. "I have always kicked in these positions so I wasn't nervous. I Just concentrated on my corner and hit it hard enough. I was very happy because our first player missed and he was crying."

"I don't want to dwell (on the ending)," Gorman said. "It was a great game beforehand and we should have won."

Imm recorded four saves and Hislop recorded three. Hislop boasts a .45 goals against average and posted 11 shutouts in 17 games.

The Bison returned nine lettermen from last year's NCAA second-place team. They have won seven straight games and have gone 9-0-1 in the past 10 games, including a 2-0 victory over No. 3 UCLA. Howard is 23-9 in NCAA playoff games.

The loss gave the Lions their first losing season since 1969.