PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania women’s soccer team has hit a bit of a speed bump in its season; after starting the season with four straight wins, the Quakers are winless in their last four (three ties and a loss). This weekend brings the first chance at redemption, as the Red and Blue host a pair of games at Rhodes Field. On Friday night, Cornell comes calling for the second Ivy League match of the season at 7 p.m., while on Sunday Penn hosts Fairleigh Dickinson in a non-conference battle at 2 p.m.
The Series with Cornell
The Quakers lost the first six games in this series, back in the 1990s. Since then, Penn is 15-0-1 including 14 wins in a row over the Big Red. Last year, Penn gained a 2-1 win in Ithaca; in fact, three of the last four meetings have ended as 2-1 wins for the Quakers.
Under second-year head coach Pat Farmer, the Big Red (6-2-1) have made vast improvements from a year ago. Last week, they opened the Ivy League campaign with a 2-0 win over Columbia. Caroline Growney leads Cornell with four goals, while Elizabeth Crowell and Rachel Nichols have three goals each. Crowell also has four assists. Midfielder Claire MacManus was a second-team All-Ivy performer last year. In goal, Kelsey Tierney has five starts with a 0.35 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. Tori Christ has four starts, a 1.27 GAA and a .556 save percentage.
The Series with FDU
The Quakers and the Knights are meeting for the first time in women’s soccer.
The Knights (4-5-1) will play Mount St. Mary’s on Friday, before making the trip to Philadelphia on Sunday. FDU has played one Ivy League opponent this season, losing to Columbia 2-0 on September 22. Amanda Goulet is FDU’s only multi-goal scorer, she has two, while six other players have scored once. Connie Lewis has two assists to go with her goal, while Goulet also has two assists. At the other end, Sage DoVale has started all 10 matches and has a 1.46 goals-against average and a .708 save percentage.
*Penn is 27-9-5 overall in the last two-plus seasons with this season’s start, and 31-10-7 over its last 48 matches dating back to the 2010 season. In those 48 matches, Penn has nearly as many shutouts (28) as goals allowed (31).
*Penn was the last team in NCAA Division I to allow a goal this season, as Old Dominion finally dented the Quakers’ net on September 22. This is nothing new to the Quakers; two years ago, they led the nation in shutout percentage (13 in 17 matches) and allowed just seven goals all season.
*Never mind keeping teams off the scoresheet; Penn just isn’t giving teams many chances to score. The Quakers have outshot their opponents by a whopping 140-47 so far this season, and Quaker goalies Kalijah Terilli and Katherine Myhre have been called upon just 16 times to make saves (Terilli 11, Myhre 5).
*Last weekend’s tie with Lehigh was a frustrating one to swallow, as Penn outshot the Mountain Hawks 27-7 (16-2 after halftime) and hit three crossbars in the opening half.
*On offense, Penn has had eight different players score its 14 goals this season.
*Penn has had one scoreless tie this year, and two others where goals were scored. In those two ties, the Quakers spotted the opposition their goals first (2 for ODU, 1 for Lehigh) before coming back to salvage the draw.
*Tahirih Nesmith scored Penn’s lone goal Sunday against Lehigh. It was the freshman defender’s team-leading fourth goal this season.
*Kerry Scalora had the assist on Nesmith’s goal, her third this season, and she also has three goals for a team-high 19 points. Scalora enters the weekend with 13 career goals and 12 career assists for 38 career points.
*Megan York had an assist on Lindsey Sawczuk’s goal at Old Dominion, and is third on the team with four points (1g, 2a). Sawczuk and seniors Brianna Rano and Kathryn Barth each have three points (1g, 1a).
*In addition to York, junior Haley Cooper has two assists this season.
*Not only did Penn win its opening two games on September 6 and 8, the Quakers did so in record fashion. Their combined 8-0 margin of victory was a season best, topping the previous mark of a combined 6-0 margin set by the 1998 squad. (The 1998 squad went on to win its third, fourth and fifth games by 4-0 margins, and had seven shutouts to start the campaign.)
*Perhaps the most impressive stat from Penn’s opening-weekend wins was that seven different women scored, and 13 recorded a point. The only multi-goal scorer was Nesmith.
*Late in the Saint Peter’s match, Nikoletta Georgalis -- a junior walk-on from the track team -- came into the match for Penn to make her collegiate debut; mere minutes after that, she scored her first collegiate goal.
*It was an all-class affair against Mount St. Mary’s on Sunday as the senior Rano, the junior York, and sophomore Elissa Berdini joined the freshman Nesmith in the goal ledger.
*Penn returns two women who earned All-Ivy honors last year, seniors Scalora (first-team forward) and Rano (second-team defender). Scalora was also the 2010 Ivy League and ECAC Rookie of the Year.
*Barth, meanwhile, was a second-team All-Ivy and second-team NSCAA all-region selection two years ago, as a sophomore.
*Scalora led Penn in scoring last year, tallying four goals and three assists for 11 points. Two other returning players, Barth and sophomore Erin Mikolai, had three goals apiece.
*In addition to Mikolai, another sophomore to keep an eye on up front is Berdini. She had two goals and two assists last season.
*Moore will step into the middle of the park, looking to replace the graduated Erin Beck. Another returning candidate for that position is senior Laura Oliver.
*Penn lost its two central defenders from a year ago, All-Ivy pick Alex Dayneka and Erin Thayer. On the other hand, sophomores Caroline Dwyer and Jazmyne Simmons are two women who saw lots of time in the backfield along with Rano last year. Cooper also has experience.
Penn is on the road twice next weekend, facing Columbia in an Ivy League match Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and then Navy on Monday at 3 p.m.