PHILADELPHIA – To a man, the members of Penn’s men’s soccer team knew that in order to get back to where they want to be – in contention for an Ivy League title and a dangerous out in the NCAA Tournament – the commitment to defense would have to be better.
So far, so good.
The Quakers routed Sacred Heart on Sunday, 5-0, to claim the championship of the Sheraton University City Penn Soccer Classic, limiting the Pioneers to just two shots on goal – both in the second half. The shutout is the second of the weekend for the Red and Blue – the first time a Penn club had opened a season with two shutout wins at home since 2006.
Goalkeeper Tyler Kinn’s second career clean sheet puts his run of minutes without allowing a goal to 267:58 dating back to Penn’s 2012 season finale against Harvard. Kinn conceded a goal 2:02 into that contest and hasn’t had to fetch a ball out of his net since – a span of 303 days.
Ten minutes into the contest, Louis Schott scored the only goal the Quakers would need, one-touching a ball out of mid-air at the top of the box after Sacred Heart failed to clear a Penn corner successfully. The goal was the second of the season for Scott – each a game-winning goal.
Freshman Alec Neumann scored his first career goal in the 26’, allowing a pair of seniors to do the dirty work before tapping the ball in from in close. Stephen Baker transitioned Penn into a scoring opportunity with a run down the right side. With defenders coming in range, Baker cooked up a cross-box pass to Alex Reddy who was willing and able to slip a quick feed to Neumann who delivered an insurance goal for the Quakers.
14 minutes later, Neumann created his own luck as he converged on Pioneer keeper Dylan Strachan at the top of the box in pursuit of a loose ball. Strachan chose to attempt a booming clear, but his kick went straight into Neumann’s legs. The freshman was off to the races and in clear, needing just a few steps to settle the ball and collect his second career goal.
Sacred Heart looked to find a way back into the match early in the second half, but the Quakers never allowed a rash of true chances for the Pioneers. Closing in on ten minutes to go, Sacred Heart hauled down a Penn player in the box, resulting in a penalty kick. Stephen Baker lined up and was good on his attempt in the 78'.
1:55 later, Duke Lacroix netted his first score of the season, winning a loose ball at midfield and charging in 1v1 on the keeper. Lacroix went to the left side, and smartly booted the ball to the far post, clanging in Penn’s fifth goal of the right post.
The Red and Blue will head to California for their next two matches. Up first is a contest at Cal Poly on Sept. 13 at 10 p.m. EST followed by a match at UC-Santa Barbara on Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. EST.
Notes: Penn is in the midst of a three-match winning streak dating back to Nov. 10, 2012 … The last time Penn won three matches in a row was 9/18-9/25 in 2011 … Baker’s second-half goal was the 20th of his career … He is now 2-for-2 on penalty kicks over his career … Penn is 11-1 all-time in games featuring a Stephen Baker goal.