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PHILADELPHIA - Penn reaches the midway point of a five-match homestand to start the 2012 men's soccer season this weekend, welcoming Air Force (Sept. 7, 7:30 p.m.) and Hartford (Sept. 9, 1 p.m.) to Rhodes Field for the first time as part of the Penn Soccer Classic.
The Red and Blue dropped a pair of one-goal matches last weekend to begin the season, falling in double overtime to New Hampshire, 2-1, after a 3-2 loss to Lafayette in the opener.
Penn had three different goal scorers over the opening weekend, with juniors Jonny Dolezal and Alex Reddy each scoring their first career goals and senior Travis Cantrell adding the third. While any team will take goals wherever they come from, Penn will look for increased contributions from forwards Stephen Baker and Duke Lacroix this weekend to earn its first win. Last year, both Baker and Lacroix accounted for five goals apiece but are scoreless through the first weekend. Each has been active, though, with Baker taking 10 shots and Lacroix six over the first two games.
The Quakers will look to avoid their first 0-3 start to a season since 2007 on Friday against the Falcons - a team entering the weekend on its own skid.
Air Force is 0-2-1 to start 2012, with just one goal in three matches to five allowed. After a 3-0 loss at Army in a battle of service academies to begin the campaign, Air Force went to a 0-0 draw with UC Davis before a 2-1 loss in double overtime to Drexel last weekend. Abinadi Samayoa had the goal for Air Force against the Dragons, finally ending Air Force's scoreless streak 347:36 into the season.
Last year, Air Force went 12-6-2, advancing to the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament. The Falcons had a 5-1 start to the season, and finished the regular season on a 4-0-1 run before a win in the first round of the MPSF Tournament. Senior Kevin Durr has twice been named first-team All-MPSF and is coming off a 2011 where he led the Falcons in scoring with 20 points on five goals and 10 assists. Senior forward Garret Getschow was second-team All-MPSF after a team-high eight goals. In goal, senior Matt Underwood returns after an honorable mention all-league season where he posted four shutouts and a 1.02 GAA. The Falcons are a veteran group with eight seniors on the roster, looking to duplicate the successful 2011 season which was Air Force's first winning campaign in eight years.
On Sunday, Penn hosts a Hartford team which enters the weekend with a 2-2-0 record. After a pair of losses at West Virginia and Penn State to start the season, Hartford picked up wins at Fordham and against Central Connecticut State to square its record heading to Philadelphia. The Hawks have scored six goals to a matching six conceded over their first four matches, led by Anthony Santaga and Javoni Simms who each have two goals. David Bernhardsson has one goal and two assists to join Santaga and Simms atop the scoring table early in 2012. Viltsu Tuumi has started all four matches for Hartford in goal, making 15 saves with one shutout and a 1.50 GAA. The Hawks went 8-9-2 in 2011 and entered the 2012 season picked third in the America East preseason poll. The Hawks went on a spirited run to finish 2011, winning five of their last six matches to reach the America East title game for the first time in 12 seasons.