PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania women’s soccer team had one of the more frustrating days in recent memory on Sunday, outshooting Lehigh 27-7 but only gaining a 1-1 draw with the Mountain Hawks for their efforts.
Playing on Rhodes Field for the first time this season -- the three previous home matches had been played at Penn Park while the Rhodes renovation was concluded -- Penn dominated almost the entire match, and especially the second half and overtime periods (16-2 shot advantage).
Lehigh put forth most of its offensive firepower in the first half, with five of its seven shots in that period, and it was the Mountain Hawks who hit the scoreboard first. As the match moved past the half-hour mark, Murphee Greeley played a long ball in from the left side that Danielle Salans was able to re-direct past Penn goalkeeper Katherine Myhre’s left side and inside the far post.
Penn, meanwhile, was hitting the crossbar no less than three times in the opening period -- Kathryn Barth in the 13th minute, Laura Oliver in the 24th minute, and finally Megan York late in the stanza.
Penn pushed the play in the second half, and the Quakers were rewarded with a little more than 15 minutes left in regulation. A corner kick from Kerry Scalora on the right side went to the far post, where freshman defender Tahirih Nesmith was waiting to head it home. It was Nesmith’s team-leading fourth goal this season.
Penn spent the last 35 minutes after that searching for the winner, but it never came -- Lehigh goalkeeper Ashley Blanks was equal to every challenge. In particular, she made a great diving save on Brianna Rano just ahead of Nesmith’s goal, and in the first OT she denied Erin Mikolai in spectacular fashion with a diving save to her right.
Penn's final chance came in the waning seconds of the second OT, when Elissa Berdini got open near the top of the box and fired a shot that went just wide. With that, the draw was secured.
Blanks ended the game with nine saves, while Myhre had five stops in going the distance for the first time this season. In addition to its shot advantage, Penn took 10 corner kicks to Lehigh’s one.
Penn is home twice next weekend, hosting Cornell in an Ivy League match on Friday at 7 p.m. and then Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday at 2 p.m.