The Quakers found their fourth-consecutive winning season after finishing 9-5-3 in 2003.
Dec. 15, 2003
After a 2002 season that saw the University of Pennsylvania women's soccer team play every game as the Ivy League's number one target en route to a third-place finish, the Red and Blue looked to the 2003 campaign to reestablish themselves as a dominant force in the Ancient Eight.
The Quakers opened the season with a five game undefeated streak, but the glory would not last as the Red and Blue fell on tough times, including a period of over 300 minutes without a goal. However, the Quakers would rebound, finishing the 2003 campaign with three-straight wins, including a 3-2 victory over then-No. 20 Princeton University to end the season.
After finishing fourth in the Ivy League with a 9-5-3 overall record and 3-3-1 mark in Ivy play, the Quakers improved to 40-21-10 under Head Coach Darren Ambrose. Since the start of his tenure, Penn has received numerous individual and team accolades and this year was no different. In addition to their fourth-consecutive winning season, the Quakers saw several program records fall, four student-athletes named All-Ivy League and the program's first Verizon Academic All-America first-team selection announced.
SENIOR SENSATION On Nov. 8, 2003, senior Vanessa Scotto stepped onto Rhodes Field for the last time in the Red and Blue, ending a career that will forever be etched in the Penn record books. During her collegiate career, the Red and Blue's veteran goalkeeper established program records in minutes played (4,180:50), lowest goals against average (GAA) in a season (0.54) - 2001, highest save percentage in a season (.898) - 2001, lowest GAA in a career (0.99) and career shutouts (13).
In her final game as a Quaker, Scotto once again proved why she is known as one of the best goalkeeper's in program history. The Pleasanton, Calif., native made a season-high 11 saves against the nationally-ranked Tigers. On the season, Scotto posted a 1.32 GAA and .645 save percentage in 747:52 minutes of play. Her talents were evident on the scoreboard as well. The Quakers were virtually unbeatable with Scotto in net, as she finished the season with a 7-1 record.
STREAK AFTER STREAK The 2003 season consisted of a series of undefeated streaks for the Penn women's soccer team. The Quakers did not lose a game until Sept. 27, when they faced Harvard in their sixth contest of the season. The Red and Blue's loss to the Crimson put an end to a 10 game undefeated streak that dated back to Oct. 19, 2002.
Senior Vanessa Scotto posted a season-high 11 saves against nationally-ranked Princeton to close her career as a Quaker.
The Quakers went on to lose a second match the following week, but rebounded in the next four games, recording three wins and a tie to improve to 6-2-3 on the season. Penn's dreams of continuing without another loss came to an end on Oct. 18, when future Ivy League champion Dartmouth College shutout the Red and Blue, 2-0.
It would take three games for the Quakers to find the winning magic again, but on Oct. 30 the Red and Blue emerged victorious with a 5-2 rout of Lehigh University. The win began a three-game, season-ending win streak that included the Quaker's 3-2 upset of then-No. 20 Princeton.
HAT TRICK HEAVEN If there was an award for scoring the most points in the fewest games, junior Katy Cross would win it hands down. The Claremont, Calif., native scored 33 of her record-setting 38 points this season in six contests. In addition to the hat tricks she posted against UNC Greensboro, Lehigh and Princeton, Cross recorded three points or more in three other contests in 2003.
Cross's efforts ranked her first on the team and in the Ivy League in points and goals for the third-consecutive season. In fact, the forward's performance was so stellar this season that she finished the year among the nation's elite. Cross ranked 11th in NCAA Division I in points per game (2.24) and 13th in NCAA Division I in goals per game (0.94).
OFFENSIVE DEFENDERS The Quakers' back line proved to be the most stable aspect of Penn's roster in 2003. Freshman Cathy Roe, sophomore Robin Watson and junior Jessica Woodward started all 17 games on defense for the Red and Blue and their combined efforts held opponents to one goal or less in 10-of-17 contests, and led to a team GAA of 1.41.
In addition to their defensive contributions this fall, each member of the trio recorded points for the Red and Blue. A 2003 All-Ivy selection, Watson finished sixth on the team in points after tallying three goals in her sophomore campaign. Roe, who was the first freshman to score a goal this season, finished the year with four points (one goal, two assists). Finally, Woodward, the elder of the bunch, posted her third career point with an assist against Lehigh on Oct. 30.
LENDING A HELPING BALL All that juniors Rachelle Snyder and Katy Cross and sophomore Jenna Linden wanted for the 2003 season was to see the ball at the back of their opponent's net and their combined efforts made that happen. The trio set up over half of the Quakers' scores this season, accounting for 17 of the Red and Blue's 31 assists.
The duo of Snyder and Cross led the team with six helpers apiece. The California natives tallied assists in nine of the 13 games that Penn recorded goals in.
There was no sophomore slump for Linden as she picked up right where she left off in 2002. The midfielder finished second on the team with five assists, bringing her career total to 12. Linden is now tied with Snyder for sixth in program history in the category.
ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS In her junior campaign, Katy Cross once again proved why she was named Penn's first-ever Ivy League Player of the Year in 2002. En route to her third-consecutive first-team All-Ivy nod, the forward broke an astonishing six program records, including career goals (42) and career points (104).
Before establishing new marks in Penn's career categories, Cross found herself atop the single game record lists. In the Red and Blue's 5-2 victory over Lehigh on Oct. 30, she tallied four goals and an assist for nine points, breaking teammate Rachelle Snyder's record of eight points in a game and tying her four goal mark. Cross ended the year with 16 goals and 38 points, breaking her own season records of 14 goals and 34 points from 2001.
HOME IS WHERE THE WIN IS The Red and Blue put home-field advantage to good use in the 2003 campaign. The Quakers recorded a 6-2 overall record at Rhodes Field, while outscoring opponents, 15-9, in their home matches. When compared to Penn's road stats, Rhodes Field seems like the place to be. The Red and Blue were outscored, 16-15, away from Penn, en route to a 3-3-3 road mark.
DOUBLE-CROSSED Penn's tag-team of sophomore Carolyn Cross and junior Katy Cross have what it takes to perform well under pressure. The duo combined for six of the Quakers' nine game-winning goals this season.
Carolyn Cross's first game-winning tally came in the Quakers' 2-1 victory over Lafayette on opening day. It would be nearly a month before the Williamsburg, Va., native would record another game-winner. However, Cross would do so in consecutive contests, scoring the go-ahead goal against Cornell on Oct. 3 and Drexel on Oct. 7.
The elder Cross had a season-ending surge of game-winning goals, as she recorded her first in the Red and Blue's Oct. 15 game against Loyola. She would follow that performance with a go-ahead goal in Penn's 5-2 victory over Lehigh on Oct. 30 and nine days later against Princeton in the final game of the season.
ACCOLADES ABOUND For the third-consecutive season, the Penn women'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, several Quakers were honored with individual accolades. Juniors Lydia Bojcun and Katy Cross and sophomores Robin Watson and Jenna Linden were named All-Ivy. Bojcun and Linden received honorable mention, while Watson and Cross were named first-team All-Ivy and Academic All-Ivy.
Sophomore Robin Watson had a career-season in 2003. She was named first-team All-Ivy, as well as Academic All-Ivy.
Cross earned several other postseason accolades following her junior campaign. Beyond her All-Ivy honors, the forward was named second-team NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region, first-team Verizon Academic All-District II and first-team Verizon Academic All-America.
Senior Vanessa Scotto was also recognized for her successes as she was named second-team Verizon Academic All-District II for the first time in her career.
ONLY TIME WILL TELL While their fourth-place Ivy League finish and 9-5-3 overall mark may not have met their expectations, the Red and Blue, who lose only one student-athlete to graduation, will return in 2004 with a youthful and talented squad ready to build on the foundation of seasons past.
Written by Tonia Sabino