PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania women’s soccer team once again put up some staggering numbers in 2013, but this one may be the most telling – on a number of levels.
Penn allowed goals in just five matches all season (the Red and Blue played 17). In four of those five matches, the Quakers allowed their opponent to score first but then came back to either tie or win the match. The one time Penn scored the opening goal, then allowed its opponent to score? It turned out to be the only loss of the entire season.
That occasion was at Harvard, when Penn “scored” first -- the goal was actually an own goal by the Crimson -- but then allowed the eventual Ivy League champions to score twice (the second an own goal by Penn) and fell, 2-1.
That result came off a pair of ties in Virginia, and was followed two days later by a 1-1 draw with a lowly Lehigh team. At that point Penn was 4-1-3, but winless in four matches. As the calendar turned to October, the Quakers were at a crossroads.
Boy, did they respond.
The turning of the calendar also marked a turning of Penn’s fortunes. The women went 8-0-1 the rest of the way -- the lone blemish a tie with Yale -- and finished the season at 12-1-4 overall, 5-1-1 in the Ivy League which was good for second place.
Penn rolled through its first two weekends, blitzing Saint Peter’s and Mount St. Mary’s to open the campaign and following that up with 1-0 wins against city rivals Drexel and Saint Joseph’s (the win over the Dragons coming in overtime). That was followed by the four-game bump in the road.
Penn shook off the doldrums quietly, with a 1-0 win over Cornell thanks to a Kerry Scalora penalty kick. That was followed by a 4-0 whitewashing of Fairleigh Dickinson. The next weekend saw the Quakers defeat Columbia 1-0, then travel to Navy and beat the Patriot League frontrunners 1-0 in overtime on another Scalora PK. The win snapped a 10-match win streak by the Midshipmen.
Momentum really grew when Penn hosted Dartmouth and defeated the Big Green, 1-0, thanks to Megan York’s second-half goal. The Quakers then closed out the non-conference portion of the season with a 2-0 win at NJIT.
Even Penn’s tie with Yale could be considered a positive result, given where the Quakers were in the match as the clock hit its final minute (down 1-0). However, Yale was called for a foul in the box with just 21 seconds left, giving Penn a PK. Scalora once again delivered, salvaging the draw.
The Ivy League’s penultimate weekend brought a matchup with Brown for second place in the Ivy League. Penn scored early, thanks to Haley Cooper’s first collegiate goal, and that stood up as the Quakers blanked the Bears for a 1-0 victory. The campaign closed with a pulsating, 3-2 win over Princeton at Rhodes Field on Senior Night.
Never before had a Penn team completed a season with just one loss, so this group set a mark that is unlikely to be equaled anytime soon. Once again, the Quakers did it primarily with defense -- despite a rotating cast in the backfield, the Quakers shut out 12 opponents which was one shy of the program record, and allowed just eight goals which was one shy of the program mark set two years ago. Penn ended the season fourth nationally in goals-against shutout percentage (.706), fifth in goals-against average (0.442), and eighth in win percentage (.824).
At the end of the season, sophomore Caroline Dwyer was named the Ivy League’s inaugural Defensive Player of the Year and earned third-team National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-America honors, becoming just the second player in program history to be so recognized. (Katy Cross earned second-team recognition in 2001.) Dwyer also earned first-team All-Ivy from the coaches along with classmates Erin Mikolai in the midfield and Kalijah Terilli in the goal. (Penn has had three first-team All-Ivy players each of the last three seasons, after not doing it from 1991-2010.) Terilli also received third-team NSCAA All-Region honors, joining the first-teamer Dwyer to make it three times in the last four years that the Quakers have had at least two players voted to All-Region honors. Scalora received honorable mention All-Ivy recognition along with freshman defender Tahirih Nesmith.