Coming off its stunning 2-1 upset of Penn's soccer team, Penn State travels to Howard University tomorrow for a quarterfinal encounter in the NCAA National Soccer Tournament.
The Lions (9-2-1) will find no breather in Howard which owns a 12-0 mark and is rated fifth in the nation. The Bisons have outscored their opponents 59-5 this season.
State reached the quarterfinals by virtue of tourney wins over St. Joseph's (4-1) and Penn. Andy Rymarczuk score both the Lions' goals in Tuesday's victory over the Quakers. Each time he was assisted by Brent Buddenhagen.
Howard moved into tomorrow's match with victories over West Virginia (1-0) and Navy (3-0). The Bisons completely dominated play against Navy, outshooting the Middies, 18-4. For Navy, the nation's tenth-rated team, it was only the second loss of the season, the first having come at the hands of the Lions.
Howard All-Americans Keith Aqui and Alvin Henderson, both from Trinidad, tremedously impressed Navy coach Glenn Warner.
"There's no way of getting around it," he said. "Aqui is fantastic. Together with Henderson and Ian Bain there's more fire power there than you'll find on any other team in the country."
Aqui last year was voted the outstanding player of the NCAA tourney although his team fell in the semifinals to UCLA, 4-3. That is believed to be the first time the award went to a player whose team did not reach the finals.
By comparison, State fell to West Virginia at mid-season by a 1-0 score and narrowly edged Navy, 2-1, the week before. The win over Navy was the result of Chris Bahr's direct free kick with 18 seconds remaining.
Lion coach Herb Schmidt, though admitting Howard "is an excellent team," thinks he has quite a team himself.
"I think we have a great bunch of kids," he said. "They're hard-working, well-skilled, but not what you'd call a 'fancy' team.
"Other teams may be fancier in the sense that, to an outsider, they appear to handle the ball better,... but we get the job done."
In order to get the job done again tomorrow, Schmidt hopes his team will break what, by now, has almost become a tradition of starting out very slowly, then playing up to the level it is capable of playing.
The Lions, playing what Schmidt labeled "our usual one or two quarters," trailed Penn 1-0 at the end of three periods before rallying to win on Rymarczuk's two fourth quarter goals.
"My main concern right now is getting four quarters," he said. "I don't know what causes it but we haven't been getting complete games."
Schmidt said he was pleased with the efforts of each of his players in Tuesday's game, but singled out a few for recognition.
"I though Andy (Rymarczuk) played as good a game as I've seen him play in the last two years," he said. "And I thought Jim Taylor did an outstanding job on defense on their All-American (Stan Startzell)." Startzell took only one shot the entire game.
The Lions tried some shifting of personell in their victory over Penn, a move which may be seen tomorrow.
"We moved people from the line into the halfback positions," said Schmidt, "and we moved other people around, too.
"Rick Allen, for example, moved back, and Chris Bahr moved up," he said. "We also moved Andy out to each of the wing slots."
"The purpose," he explained, "was to eliminate man-to-man marking or, if there was marking to make sure they couldn't double-team us.
"Although this wasn't the primary purpose, we did end up getting Andy loose on two or three occasions," he said.
The Lions need every advantage they can get if they aer to stave off the powerful Bisons, who are averaging just under five goals a game while holding opponents to an average of under one-half goal per game.
Henderson leads Howard in goals with 16, while Aqui has netted 12. Rymarczuk leads State with 14 goals, followed by Bahr's 12.
Tomorrow's winner advances to the semifinals to be held in Miami's Orange Bowl on December 28, against the winner of tomorrow's Harvard-Hartwick match. The finals are two days later in the Orange Bowl.