Late Drama As Women's Soccer Edges Princeton, 3-2

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PRINCETON, N.J. -On an historic and emotional day at Princeton’s Roberts Stadium, one filled with tears all around, the University of Pennsylvania women’s soccer team made its own history and left its own tears on the field.

They were tears of joy.

Penn was up, 2-0, at halftime of Saturday's match. Princeton tied it, however, the second goal coming with just 4:45 left in regulation when Beth Stella’s effort from the top of the box hit the crossbar, bounced back off diving Penn goalkeeper Kalijah Terilli, and went into the goal.

At that point, you would have been hard-pressed to find a person in the house who felt like the Quakers were going to emerge victorious. That feeling was only exacerbated when Terilli was forced to make a diving save to keep the score tied with less than two minutes to play.

Off that play, though, Terilli booted the ball out to midfield where Penn gained possession. The Quakers quickly strung together a few passes, and before you knew it sophomore Lindsey Sawczuk was sliding a pass between a pair of Princeton defenders to a sprinting Clara Midgley.

The senior made two touches, then slid a left-footed shot past the left side of Princeton’s oncoming goalkeeper, Darcy Hargadon. The ball rolled inside the far post,softly settling intothe side netting, and Midgley was buried under an avalanche of elated teammates at the top of the box.

The Tigers (7-6-3, 3-3-1 Ivy) had 1:39 left to equalize, but the defense held -- dramatically, of course-- and the Quakers got on the bus home from Princeton with a win for the first time under 15-year head coach Darren Ambrose. (In fact, Penn’s last win here came in 1998.) In addition, the Quakers finish the season 8-5-3 overall with a three-match win streak and a four-match unbeaten streak. They also end the Ivy League campaign in a tie for third place at 3-3-1, with a win (at Princeton) and a tie (at Yale) against the teams they tied in the standings.

Following the match, a trip to the Penn bench showed a team that had as much emotion, if not more, as the 2010 squad that emerged from Roberts Stadium with a 0-0 tie and an Ivy League title. It was that kind of game. Tears and hugs abounded, all of the joyous type.

They were justified. Saturday’s game was an emotional affair on a number of levels. Not only was it Princeton’s Senior Day -- the Tigers honored nineof themprior to the match -- but it was also the final time that the Tigers were playing with Julie Shackford as their head coach. The Tigers’ mentor of the last 20 years announced prior to the season that this would be her final one.

In addition, as the teams kicked off Princeton still was looking at the possibility of sharing the Ivy League title. (That possibility would be gone by halftime, as Harvard took care of business in Cambridge to claim its second straight championship.)

With all of that swirling in the air, Penn quickly showed that it was prepared to re-write the script. It was Midgley who did it, of course, scoring in the 11th minute when she re-directed a short cross from Juliana Provini in front of the goal.

Midgley has scored seven goals in the last three seasons. Five of them have come against Princeton -- two as a sophomore, one last year, and two today.

Kaliijah Terilli came up with a huge save about 10 minutes later, when a Princeton shot looked like it was ticketed for the upper 90 inside the left post. Instead, Terilli moved quickly to her right, leapt and was able to push it past the left post before it crossed the line. It was a theme that would replay itself a number of times in the second half.

Erin Mikolai fed Kristen Miller beautifully just before halftime, but the freshman was unable to convert the shot. Mere seconds after that, though, Mikolai took a corner kick from the left side that Kaitlyn Moore headed home from directly in front, and the Quakers took a 2-0 lead into the halftime break.

Princeton got off to a strong start in the second half, but Terilli had as fine a stop as you will see at this level to keep it a shutout early on. That ended up being only a temporary stopgap, however, as she had absolutely no chance when a Princeton header in front went off a defender and past her right side. That made it 2-1, and it was game on with 41 minutes still to go.

Princeton would outshoot Penn 16-2 in the second half. The Quakers were hard-pressed to get the ball, and keeping it was almost out of the question. Terilli continued answering the bell, though, as she ended the night with eight stops -- including that final, all-important one that led to a winner at the other end.

Download: Penn16 (@Princeton).pdf