No. 16 Penn State hands Rutgers overtime loss on senior day

The most dangerous part of a soccer game is right after you take the lead.

The Rutgers men's soccer team learned that lesson the hard way, falling 2-1 to Penn State at Yurcak Field on Sunday afternoon. 

The Scarlet Knights (7-7-3, 1-6-1) thought they had a late winner when true freshman midfielder Randy Arronis powered home a volley off a loose ball in the 84th minute to give Rutgers a 1-0 lead.

But the No. 16 Nittany Lions (11-2-3, 6-1-1) responded just 59 seconds later, as a big rebound from true freshman goalkeeper Oren Asher was put home by Liam Butts. It was a gut punch for the Knights, who thought they had a late winner and a signature win.

“We scored a great goal, and five minutes after you score a goal is when you’re the most susceptible to conceding,” said senior defender Jake Longo. “We weren’t able to keep them off the score sheet.”

The equalizer would force overtime, and Rutgers had an opportunity to redeem themselves in a sudden-death situation. 

But Penn State would ice the game just 2 minutes into overtime. A corner kick was played in at the near post, and the ball was powered into the back of the net by Christian Sload. 

Given how the Knights controlled much of the game, the late Lions goals came somewhat against the run of play.

“I thought, for long stretches, we were the better side,” said head coach Jim McElderry. “We go up 1-0 with 6 minutes left, and we just lacked a little bit of experience (when trying to) close this game out.”

It was a very tough loss for Longo, who along with senior midfielder Tim McQuaid, was saying goodbye to Yurcak Field on senior day. For the senior captain, it marked the end of a long but rewarding road. 

“This year has been the most enjoyable year for me,” Longo said. “The coaches came in looking to win now – they weren’t looking to rebuild and take three or four years and they kind of brought back the passion for me and the fire to compete.”

The loss leaves Rutgers with just one Big Ten win on the season, forcing them into a play-in knockout game against Ohio State on Saturday. A victory against the Buckeyes (6-9-1, 1-5-1) would set them up for a showdown with No. 1 seed Indiana the next day.

“I think that we can take this performance as some momentum,” Longo said. “If we compete like that and play like we did (today) against Ohio State on Saturday, I don’t see how we could drop another result.”

For updates on the Rutgers men's soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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