2003 Men's Soccer Season Review

The Red and Blue posted a 6-9-2 overall record in the 2003 season.

Dec. 19, 2003

After a 2002 season that saw the University of Pennsylvania men's soccer team win the Ivy League for the first time in 22 years, the Quakers looked toward the 2003 campaign as a chance to defend their title and to position themselves as one of the elite men's soccer programs in the country. Yet despite their plans, the Red and Blue, like any reigning champion, was seen as the team to defeat, a fact that would ultimately lead to a roller coaster season for the Quakers.

The Red and Blue opened the season strong, posting a 2-2-2 record in the month of September, but the smooth sailing would not last as the Quakers fell on tough times, dropping seven of their final 11 games. However, the season had its high points as well. The Quakers, who finished 6-9-2 overall and 2-5-0 in Ivy play, captured a third-consecutive Philadelphia Soccer Seven (PS7) title, a near-victory against then-No. 2 Maryland and a win over Harvard University to end the season, showing all naysayers that this young Penn team has a bright future ahead of it.

END OF AN ERA
On Nov. 15, 2003, senior Matthew Haefner donned his Red and Blue uniform for the last time, ending one of the most successful goalkeeping careers in Penn history. During his undergraduate career, Haefner, who was named Ivy League Player of the Year in 2002, appeared in 47 contests with 45 starts. The Amherst, N.Y., native was named All-America by both the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and College Soccer News, NSCAA/adidas All-Mid Atlantic, Philadelphia Soccer Seven (PS7) All-Star, as well as All-Ivy.

In addition to his postseason accolades, Haefner also left his mark on the program's record books. He finished his collegiate career with program records in career shutouts (15) - 2003, shutouts in a season (10) - 2002, minutes played in a season (1,598) - 2002, lowest goals against average (GAA) in a season (0.45) - 2002 and highest save percentage in a season (.923) - 2002.

In 2003 alone, Haefner amassed 72 saves en route to a .791 save percentage and a 1.26 GAA. Haefner's season highlights included three shutouts and a season-high 11 saves against then-No. 2 Maryland. His collegiate career ended on a high note, as he was one of 54 student-athletes invited to participate in the adidas/MLS Player Combine, a precursor to the Major League Soccer SuperDraft.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Junior Eric Hallenbeck by example in 2003. As the eldest student-athlete on Penn's defense, Hallenbeck showed why he is one of the most reliable pieces of the Quakers' lineup.

During the 2003 campaign, Hallenbeck, who was one of three student-athletes to start in all 17 contests for Penn, helped hold opponents to one tally or less in 11 of 17 games. In addition to his defensive efforts, which included contributing to a team goals against average (GAA) of 1.19, Hallenbeck served as this year's team tri-captain.

Both the Ancient Eight and the PS7 rewarded Hallenbeck's efforts and talents this season, as the defender was named first-team All-Ivy for the second-consecutive season and a PS7 All-Star for the first time in his career.

TIED AT THE TOP
For the second consecutive year, junior David Maier found himself at the top of the Quakers' scoring leaderboard after posting 11 points on the season. However, unlike the 2002 campaign, Maier does not hold this honor alone. He is joined by classmate Stephen Kroculick, who like Maier, amassed 11 points in 14 games. The duo finished the season fourth in the Ivy League in goals per game (0.36), fifth in points per game (0.79) and goals (5) and ninth in points (11).

Junior Stephen Kroculick received honorable mention for All-Ivy in 2003. Along with David Maier, he led the team in points with 11.


Maier, a forward, recorded three goals and five assists this fall. His first points of the season came against Philadelphia University when he scored a goal and added an assist. Maier had a career-day against Saint Joseph's on Nov. 10, tallying two goals and three assists. For his efforts, the Broadview Heights, Ohio, native was named the PS7 Player of the Week and to the Ivy League Honor Roll for Nov. 10.

Kroculick tallied five goals and an assist en route to receiving honorable mention for All-Ivy. The forward was named to the Ivy League Honor Roll twice this season, first on Sept. 22 after he scored both goals in Penn's 2-2 tie with Loyola College and again on Nov. 17 after he recorded the game-winning goal against Harvard.

THIRD TIME IS A CHARM
With a convincing 7-1 victory over cross-town rival Saint Joseph's University on Nov. 5, the Quakers captured their third-consecutive PS7 title. The Red and Blue, who finished 3-0-1 in the PS7, share the 2003 crown with Drexel University, who also went undefeated in league play.

The Quakers opened their PS7 season with a 1-0 win over Temple University. Sophomore Richard Brushett scored the lone goal for the Quakers, while Haefner recorded three saves and his second shutout of the season. Five days later, the Red and Blue faced their second PS7 opponent of the season when they traveled to La Salle for a mid-week matchup. After 110 minutes of play, Penn walked off the field with a 1-1 tie. Freshman defender Charles Howard scored his first collegiate goal in the contest to help the Red and Blue remain undefeated in league play.

The Quakers would completely dominate in their final two PS7 games of 2003, scoring 12 goals in 180 minutes of play. First up for the Red and Blue was Philadelphia University. Freshman Daniel Cepero made his collegiate debut in net in the contest, as the Quakers came away with a 5-0 victory. Nearly a month later, Penn faced its final PS7 foe, recording a 7-1 romping of the Hawks of Saint Joseph's.

The league title is the third for the Quakers under Head Coach Rudy Fuller. Under his tutelage, the Red and Blue have been virtually unbeatable in PS7 play, posting an 11-1-2 record against Philadelphia opponents since entering into the competition for the league title in 2000.

CHARLES IN CHARGE
The Penn defense received a youthful burst this season. In addition to veteran defenders junior Erik Hallenbeck and sophomore Erik Violante, two newcomers entered the Red and Blue lineup. From day one of the season, the rookie duo of Charles Snyder and Charles Howard stood as a mainstay on the Quakers' backline. Snyder played in 15 contests with 14 starts, while Howard started in all 16 of his appearances.

The duos' combined effort helped the Quakers hold opponents to one goal or less in 11 of 17 games and helped establish a team GAA of 1.19.

In addition to his efforts on defense, Howard also contributed to the Red and Blue's offense. The Portland, Ore., native found the back of the net against La Salle and Dartmouth in 2003.

POWER OF THE PENALTY KICK
The Red and Blue posted a 2-1-1 record in games where a member of the team attempted a penalty kick. Overall, three different Quakers combined for 4-of-4 on penalty kick attempts this season. Sophomore Erik Violante recorded both of his tallies in the one-on-one situation, while senior Nick Severini and junior Matthew Waddell made one apiece.

SHARING THE GLORY
Not one member of the Penn lineup recorded more than one game-winning goal during the 2003 campaign. In fact, six different Quakers tallied go-ahead goals, which allowed several student-athletes to share in the glory of coming through in the clutch.

Sophomores Violante and Brushett led the way early in the season for the Red and Blue, recording their game-winners against Towson (9/19) and Temple (9/24), respectively.

In October, two rookies made their presence felt on the Quaker offense. Derrick Jumper scored the game-winner and his first collegiate goal on Oct. 8, against Philadelphia University, while Howard found the back of the net in Penn's 1-0 victory over Dartmouth on Oct. 18.

Penn's veteran leadership was apparent in the home stretch of the season, as juniors Matthew Waddell and Stephen Kroculick recorded the Red and Blue's final two game-winners of the season. Waddell put the Quakers ahead against Saint Joseph's (11/5) and Kroculick gave the Red and Blue an end of the season boost by leading the team to a 2-1 win over Harvard (11/15.

HOME IS WHERE THE GOAL IS. (OR IS IT?)
Of the 11 student-athletes that scored for the Quakers during the 2003 campaign, five individuals only tallied goals at Rhodes Field. Senior Nick Severini and junior Joe Klein put home field advantage to good use against Philadelphia University (10/8), as they both scored their only goals of the season.

Waddell also let the familiar surrounding help him. He posted all three of his goals this fall in the Quakers' home game against Saint Joseph's (11/5). The story was the same for Maier, as the forward found the back of the net three times for Penn, twice against Saint Joseph's and once against Philadelphia.

Rounding out this group was Jumper, as he first tally, like Severini and Klein, came against Philadelphia University. Exactly a month later, Jumper scored the second goal of his career in Penn's 3-1 loss to Princeton (11/8).

While four Quakers found that home is where the goal is, two other had a different take on the situation. Sophomores Brushett and John Rhodes only recorded goals while they were away from Rhodes Field.

Brushett opened his scoring when he connected on the game-winner in Penn's 1-0 victory over Temple University on Sept. 29. Just over two weeks later, he posted the Quakers' only tally in their loss at Columbia. Rhodes scored his only goal of the fall when the Red and Blue traveled to College Park, Md., to face then-No. 2 Maryland.

NEAR PERFECTION
In Penn's face-off with cross-town rival Saint Joseph's, the Red and Blue put together one of their most complete performances of the season. The Quakers dominated the Hawks, eventually winning, 7-1, while setting season-high marks in four different categories and clinching a third-consecutive PS7 title.

Junior David Maier led the Quakers in assists this season. He posted three helpers in the Quakers' game against Saint Joseph's on Nov. 5.


Led by the individual performances of Waddell, who tallied three goals and an assist, and Maier, who recorded two goals and added three assists, the Quakers posted a season-high 20 points in the contest. In addition, the Red and Blue connected on a third of their 21 shots in the contest en route to seven goals and six assists, all season-highs.

NECK AND NECK WITH THE NATION'S ELITE
While the Quakers' finish in 2003 may not show signs of national dominance, the Red and Blue did prove that they could compete with the best-of-the-best in NCAA Division I soccer. On Oct. 21, the Red and Blue traveled to College Park, Md., to face then-No. 2 Maryland and although they were the obvious underdogs, Penn gave Maryland a run for its money, as the Quakers narrowly missed the tying goal with 16 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Red and Blue were first on the scoreboard behind a ball from Rhodes that found its way into the far side of the goal. The Quakers would take a 1-0 advantage into the half, putting the Terrapins in an unfamiliar position.

Yet despite a valiant defensive effort, which included a season-high 11 saves from goalkeeper Matthew Haefner, the Terrapins found the back of the net twice late in the game. Penn would make a final surge to tie the game with 16 seconds remaining when junior Joshua Duyan attempted a corner kick, which narrowly missed the cage and was ultimately deflected by Maryland's keeper Noah Palmer. While the Quakers may not have come away with a win, they proved that they have the talent and determination needed to compete with the nation's elite.

BRAINS AND BRAWN
For the fourth-consecutive season, the Penn men's soccer team received the NSCAA Team Academic Award. An annual honor, the award is given to teams with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and serves as a true indication of the team's success both on and off the field.

In addition, two Quakers were honored with individual academic accolades. Senior Matthew Haefner received Academic All-Ivy honors for the second-consecutive season, while sophomore Richard Brushett was named to the Verizon Academic All-District II soccer team.


BRIGHT FUTURE STRAIGHT AHEAD
After a 2003 season that saw both the glory of winning and the agony of defeat, this youthful Red and Blue squad will get a fresh start in 2004. In addition to having another year of experience under their belts, the Quakers will return the majority of the team for the 2004 campaign, as they lose only one starter from this season's lineup to graduation - a factor that can only help the Red and Blue as they make their drive back to the top of the Ivy ladder.

Written by Tonia Sabino