ANNAPOLIS, SEPT. 1 -- Navy soccer coach Greg Myers couldn't complain. His young team today lost its season opener to the 14th-ranked team in the country, Penn State, 3-2. However, the Midshipmen were without their starting goalkeeper and nearly came back in the second half.

"Our inexperience in the back showed and we played very tentative at times," said Myers, whose team did little right in the first 15 minutes. "But we played much better in the second half. We have some work to do, but I think we have the potential to do all right."

Mike Ulses, who was Myers' No. 1 goalkeeper coming into the season, stepped on a sprinkler head in a scrimmage last Monday and tore ligaments in his right ankle.

In Ulses' place was John Lewis, who was playing in his first varsity game. Lewis made only one major mistake, which resulted in the Nittany Lions' third goal.

Leading, 2-1, with 31:06 left in the game, Lewis got caught too far out of the net after trying to break up a crossing pass. Penn State's Kamel Haddad freed the ball from Lewis and passed to Steve Frantz who beat two fullbacks standing on the goal line.

After the Midshipmen made the score 3-2 on Joe Kiefer's goal off an assist from Lou Schager with 6:37 left, they had only a few minor threats to tie it.

With the exception of the first 15 minutes, Navy played the Nittany Lions (1-0) almost evenly. Penn State scored five minutes into the game and had numerous scoring chances early.

"Their first goal was just beautiful. You won't see one better than that," Myers said.

Gaithersburg's John Speaker started the play with a long throw-in from the left sideline. Jan Skorpen flicked it across the crease to fullback Paul Moylan, who was unmarked at the far post. Moylan easily headed the ball into the right side of the net.

Navy's only threat of the first half resulted in a goal at the 27-minute mark. Kiefer stole the ball in the Penn State zone from Rich Schmidt, who slipped. Kiefer then crossed a pass to the middle of the penalty box, where Schager blasted a left-footed shot from 10 yards over goalkeeper John Pascarella's leap.

The Nittany Lions went ahead for good with 3:38 left in the first half on a nice effort by Skorpen. Harrassed by three defenders, Skorpen held possession at the top of the box before sliding a pass to Peter Daigle. Daigle fed Haddad on the left side for a 15-yard shot to the far, right corner.