Last year, Penn State was in the men’s national championship final. They were in a tough match with North Carolina. They fought well for 75 minutes to try and come back from a 1 goal deficit which turned to 2 in the final seconds of the match ending their quest to be national champions. Last year was not to be.
This year, Penn State knew they would not win a national championship. They were in the open division. Would they still have the same intensity and passion that fueled them to last year’s title game this year? Penn State won their pool but with a loss in their final pool play match. Questions may have lingered.
Once they reached bracket play, their past experiences helped navigate their way to the open title. Last year’s squad played a series of 1 goal games to advance to the national final. This year started with a similar 1 goal game with a victory over James Madison. They next had a 2 goal victory in the semifinal versus UCLA.
Defending open champion Oregon stood in their way to a title. Unlike last year, Penn State was the one to score first and try to hold a lead in a final. Midway through the 2nd half, Oregon found an equalizer. Would Penn State rise to the challenge? Rise they did. A header by Robbie Edwards in the 70th minute put Penn State in front to stay to win the open title.
A year after a heart wrenching defeat in a final, the 2016 Penn State team found a way to win a final. Will this be a stepping stone for success a year later?
Congratulations to the 2016 Men’s Open Champion: Penn State!