PHILADELPHIA - Wednesday night's game with NJIT was one of those perfect sandwich games for the Penn women's soccer team. Coming off an emotional win at Columbia last weekend, and with Dartmouth coming to Rhodes Field this Saturday, the Quakers had every reason to look past the Highlanders.
This Penn team has not gotten caught in such traps, though, and Wednesday night was no exception. Playing in weather that alternated between sprinkles and downpours, the Quakers poured it on themselves with five goals in the first half and three more in the second to gain a convincing, 8-0 win.
Penn improved to 10-2-0 on the season, marking the third time in five seasons the Quakers have reached double digits in the win column. The win was also the Red and Blue's tenth straight at Rhodes Field, and marked their ninth shutout this season. To date, Penn has given up just one goal at home in 2011 (seven matches). NJIT fell to 2-11-0.
The eight goals were the most by a Penn team since Oct. 13, 1998 (a 9-0 win over Delaware) and marked just the third time in program history the Quakers have scored at least eight goals in a match.
Individually, you have to start with Clara Midgley. The freshman had a hat trick, the first by a Penn player since Jessica Fuccello scored three times against Dartmouth in 2009. Kathryn Barth and Laura Oliver each had three assists on the night, one shy of the school record and the most by a Penn player since Sarah Friedman had three against Saint Joseph's on Sept. 9, 2007. Barth -- who only played the first half -- also scored a goal Wednesday night. Marin McDermott and Callan Parra each scored twice.
Penn pushed the play early, but it wasn't until the 21st minute that the scoring started. Barth was tripped in the goal area, and McDermott stepped up to finish off Penn's first penalty kick of the season.
That opened the proverbial floodgates. Just three minutes later, Barth crossed the ball from deep on the left side to the far post. Oliver was there, and she pinged it right back across the goalmouth to McDermott who easily finished the sitter near the left post.
Just after the half-hour mark, Midgley got on the board for the first time. Oliver took a pass from Barth at the top of the box and fired a shot on goal. NJIT goalkeeper Anna Kornmuller made the save, but the rebound went right to Midgley who easily converted.
Three minutes after that, Barth found Parra open on the left side, and the freshman had probably the nicest goal of the night, finishing with a powerful shot that beat Kornmuller and slipped inside the far post. Barth closed out the scoring just before halftime, taking a through ball from Oliver and powering a shot inside the near post from about 10 yards.
The second half featured Penn's youth, as six freshmen and three sophomores were among the 10 field players who went the entire stanza. That did not slow down the onslaught, however. Midgley scored 10 minutes into the half when she took a pass from Parra and placed a shot in the upper 90 at the near post.
Midgley's hat trick was completed in the 80th minute when she stepped up to take Penn's second PK of the night. Kornmuller got a hand on it, but not enough to keep the powerful shot out of the goal.
Parra finished the scoring with just 2:44 left, as Claire Walker made some nice moves on the left side and sent a cross in front of the goal that Parra had no trouble finishing.
Penn outshot NJIT, 24-3, and had eight corner kicks to the Highlanders' three. Three different women saw time in goal for the Quakers -- Sarah Banks started and played the first half, Caroline Williams played 34 minutes in the second, and Katherine Myhre finished the job with 11 minutes. They were not forced to make a save. At the other end, Kornmuller had eight stops.
Penn's game with Dartmouth will kick off at 5 p.m. Saturday and is the first half of a doubleheader, as the Quaker and Big Green men square off at 7:30 p.m.