The Nittany Lion mascot and head coach WALTER BAHR celebrate with DAN GALLAGHER, a three-year starter from St. Anthony’s High School in Smithtown, New York, after the senior Penn State goalkeeper re-wrote the school record for career shutouts in 1978.
Philadelphia native WALTER BAHR had exactly four years of collegiate coaching experience under his belt upon leaving Temple University in the City of Brotherly Love to take control of the PENN STATE UNIVERSITY men’s soccer team in 1974. But, almost a quarter century earlier, it had been this very same man who had provided the glorious pass that led to the only goal of the game as the United States toppled mighty England 1-0 at the 1950 FIFA World Cup final tournament in Brazil for what will always remain one of the most incredible upsets in all of sports history. A respected defender who had represented the United States at the 1948 Summer Olympic Games in London and was described by journalist TOMMY MUIRHEAD, the former Glasgow Rangers forward who earned eight international caps during his career, as “good enough to play for any First Division team in the United Kingdom” in an article published by the Glasgow Daily Mail while the Scotland national team was visiting on tour in 1949.
Upon arriving at the field lying in the shadow of the ever-expanding and now world-renowned Beaver Stadium, Bahr immediately established the Nittany Lions soccer program as a legitimate regional powerhouse. At the very same time that legendary coach Joe Paterno was establishing the Penn State football team as a perennial title contender on the national stage, the school’s soccer team was busying qualifying itself for nine consecutive NCAA tournament appearances to coincide with Bahr’s first nine seasons at the helm in Happy Valley. Ultimately, this great leader of young men took a dozen different teams to the annual NCAA tournament in only fourteen seasons while developing many All-America and future professional players alike.
In an era when many other powerful schools simply could not resist the temptation to actively recruit outstanding foreign talent, Bahr never wavered in his particular belief of American exceptionalism and actually set up a little pipeline that flowed from the noteworthy Shimano youth team program based in eastern Pennsylvania. The products of that fruitful connection would include Bethlehem’s very own JIM STAMATIS from Liberty High School, the 1979 Hermann Trophy winner as the nation’s standout collegiate soccer player who ranks as Penn State’s all-time leading scorer still to this day. One prominent player coming out of the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area was RICH REICE, the talented Neshaminy High School graduate who was selected First Team All-America for Penn State in 1977 and later, after starting his professional career with the hometown Philadelphia Fury in the North American Soccer League, shot the game-winning goal for the Pennsylvania Stoners in the 1980 American Soccer League playoff final.