SACRAMENTO - The Penn women's soccer team needed to go to extra time on Sunday against Sacramento State, but the end result was an exhilarating, 3-2 win that snapped the Quakers' three-match losing streak.
Erin Mikolai was the hero on this day. She took a short pass from Elissa Berdini at the top of the box, settled it, and with a defender closing on her chipped a shot over Hornets goalkeeper Shelby Tomasello. The ball bounced off the underside of the crossbar and hit the ground, where Tomasello collected it. However, the linesman was on the end line and immediately signaled a goal, giving Penn the victory.
Penn (3-3-0) has been desperately in search of a goal these last three games, and that was evident early in Sunday's contest. Not even two minutes in, Callan Parra was sprung and rang a 20-yard shot off the left post. Mere minutes after that, Kerry Scalora found herself with acres of room and took advantage with a long drive that concluded with a 25-yard bullet. However, that one found the same post and bounced harmlessly away.
Given the extremely hot conditions, head coach Darren Ambrose substituted liberally throughout the match. However, as the first half wore on the Hornets (2-4-2) gained momentum. Sarah Banks was equal to the first two good chances, stuffing a breakaway in the ninth minute and then parrying a rocket from Elece McBride over the bar in the 20th minute.
Banks was caught completely off guard by Victoria Ramirez's free kick in the 24th minute, however, and that became Sacramento State's first goal. Ramirez' kick came from about 35 yards out along the right wing, but instead of bending into the box it knuckled and continued on a straight line toward the goal. By the time Banks realized what was happening, it was too late -- the ball bounced in front of her, took a high hop, and slid under the crossbar before she could do anything with it.
That seemed to take the wind out of Penn's sails the rest of the half, as SSU held the play until the break.
Penn finally broke through in the 74th minute. Alex Dayneka took a corner kick from the right side, and the ball bounced across the front of the goal about 15 yards out. That was where Berdini rocketed a side volley that skimmed the underside of the crossbar and dented the netting.
That seemed to spark the Quakers, who continued taking it to the Hornets. Berdini had another shot, this time a lefty effort from 25 yards, that Tomasello gathered. Off a corner kick, York had an effort in front that was deflected before it got to goal.
That led to another corner kick, and this time the Quakers converted. Brianna Rano's short ball went to Erin Beck at the near post, and she re-directed it. From there, Kathryn Barth got enough of a foot on it to push it over the line before Tomasello could cover it.
It looked like that would be enough, as Penn continued to hammer away at the Hornets. However, it was Sacramento State that stunned everyone with the equalizer just 1:32 from the end of regulation. A Penn goal kick was controlled by the Hornets, and suddenly they had a 2-on-1 with defender Erin Thayer. Those odds were against the senior defender, and sure enough a through ball left SSU's Megan Burg open for a breakaway that she converted past Banks.
Penn had the best chance in the first overtime, as York did a good job to shield a defender and get past her for a left-footed shot that she put high and wide. Mikolai was more on-target with her effort just minutes later.
Sunday's match was Penn's last before the Ivy League opener. That will come this Friday, when the Quakers host defending Ivy champion Harvard at 5 p.m. on Rhodes Field.