PHILADELPHIA - The Penn women's soccer team enjoyed a record-setting season in 2011, but that was only part of the story.
Perhaps what was most impressive was how the Quakers bounced back at a point in the season when it looked like the season might completely derail.
It was smooth sailing through the first five matches, of course. Penn won all of them, pitching shutouts in each win. The run included a 1-0 victory over Villanova at PPL Park, the home of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union, and the fifth win was particularly noteworthy as the Quakers beat James Madison for the first time in program history.
It was immediately after that win that things threatened to go haywire.
The JMU win was followed by a loss at George Mason, a defeat that was compounded by a season-ending injury to Kerry Scalora (who to that point had been far and away the Quakers' most dangerous player). Five days later, the Ivy League portion of the season got off to a rocky start when Penn traveled to Harvard and fell to the Crimson, 2-0.
With the season on the brink, Penn rallied -- in a big way.
The Quakers won eight in a row after the Harvard loss -- a school record -- and went 9-0-1 over its final 10 matches. Penn shut out eight of those 10 opponents, including seven in a row that spanned the entire month of October. The Red and Blue went 5-0-1 in Ivy play the rest of the way.
When the dust had cleared, Penn had finished with an overall record of 14-2-1. It was the best record, by win percentage, in program history and it tied the 1997 team for most overall wins. In Ivy League play, the Quakers went 5-1-1 -- a better record than their 4-1-2 championship season of 2010 -- but could only finish second to the Crimson (6-0-1). Penn scored 39 goals, the second-most in program history. At the other end, the Quakers allowed just seven, far and away the fewest in program history (the previous mark was nearly double that, at 13).
The season ended with Penn leading the nation's 330 NCAA Division I programs in shutout percentage (.765), third in goals-against average (0.41), sixth in win percentage (.853), and seventh in save percentage (.887). Unfortunately, all of those numbers were not enough to secure a postseason bid.
When the season was over, a record three players received first-team All-Ivy recognition from the coaches -- senior defender Adrienne Lerner, junior goalkeeper Sarah Banks, and junior midfielder Erin Beck. Seniors Marin McDermott and Colleen Barry and sophomore Kathryn Barth were second-team All-Ivy picks, while senior Ursula Lopez-Palm received honorable mention. It was the second time in program history seven women were recognized by the Ancient Eight coaches.
Head Coach Darren Ambrose recently sat down with the Penn Sports Network's Mike Mahoney to discuss the historic season.