PHILADELPHIA Penn entered its home opener against the Lafayette Leopards looking to end a five game losing streak that dated back to the 2006 season. A renewed focus on team defense coupled with an opportune scoring chance resulted in the Quakers first victory of the 2007 campaign.
Penn entered the game having been outshot by their opponents in every game of the season. Against the Leopards, the Quakers made sure it was their chance to be the aggressors. Penn recorded the first six shots of the game, putting all the pressure on Lafayette goalkeeper Courtney Dixon.
With 28:35 gone in the first half, Penn rushed the ball up the left side. Andrea Rockey found herself in position just inside the baseline and fired a shot towards the net. The ball bounced off the post but landed right on the stick of Kara Bolger, almost as if Rockey had planned it. Bolger wasted no time and fired a shot into the back of the net, giving the Quakers a 1-0 lead.
As the 2007 season as shown, coasting to a victory was not a possibility. Lafayette, who was held without a shot in the first half, woke up in the second and heightened the pressure on the Quakers. The Leopards earned four penalty corners, all in the second half. Fortunately for Penn, only one of the corners was converted into a shot on goal.
Lafayette competed hard, attempting to net the equalizer. The Quakers, however, rose to the challenge and thwarted every opportunity. Kathryn Burke was a force on defense. She handled the right side of the field with poise and vision. Burke was quick to an attacker and was able to find an open teammate when needed.
Melissa Black made a key defensive play with 11:30 remaining in the game when she stepped up at midfield and broke up a potential breakout pass that would have sprung a Leopard all alone down the middle of the field.
The final score was still in question right up until the 69:30 mark when the Quaker defense halted one last charge from Lafayette and was able to control the ball the rest of the way.
Head coach Val Cloud was pleased with her team after the win.
“We were persistent in the circle all night,” she said, “Our defense played well as a unit and we were able to put on consistent pressure without fouling. I am extremely happy with how we handled the end of the game.”
With their first win under their belts, the Quakers move on to face Cornell at home on Saturday, September 15 at noon. Penn will look to even its Ivy League record at 1-1 against a Big Red team that is undefeated on the season at 3-0.