PHILADELPHIA – Two tough road tests await the University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer team this weekend as the Red and Blue head to Omaha for matches at No. 14 Creighton (Friday, 8:30 p.m. EST)and Nebraska-Omaha (Sun., 3 p.m. EST).
The Quakers (0-0-2) are coming off a pair of ties last weekend to open 2016 – the first time in the storied history of Penn Soccer that a season has opened with back-to-back draws.
Penn will be taking on both opponents this weekend for the first time in program history, making the program’s first trip to Nebraska.
The Red and Blue have shown a bit of a resurgence offensively through the first two games of 2016, netting three goals over their first two games. Last year, Penn needed scored just one goal over its first six games as the Quakers struggled to an 0-5-1 start.
Three different players have scored so far for the Quakers – Aramis Kouzine, Alec Neumann, and Sam Wancowicz. A defender by trade, Wancowicz has been sticking his nose into proceedings at both ends of the field as he leads the team with five shots through two matches.
The Red and Blue have showed depth already this season, with 17 field players having seen minutes – led by Matt Poplawski and Nigel Blackwood who are the only two field players to see all 220 minutes. Five freshmen have made their collegiate debuts, including Dami Omitaomu who has started both matches at wide forward.
In goal, Etan Mabourakh has started and played every minute of the first two matches of 2016. He has made 12 saves – posting an .800 save percentage – and has a GAA of 1.23.
The contest with the No. 14 ranked Bluejays on Friday is another match against a ranked opponent scheduled by Rudy Fuller. Last year, the Quakers played three ranked foes, with an 0-2-1 record – including a 0-0 draw with No. 7 Washington in the season opener.
Penn’s last win over a ranked team was a 1-0 win against No. 13 Brown on October 30, 2010.
The Bluejays are 1-1-0 this season, and are coming off a 1-1 draw with Nebraska-Omaha on Monday … Creighton has a 2-0 win over No. 25 Rutgers to its credit this season … The lone Bluejays loss of 2016 was a 1-0 defeat at No. 2 Clemson … Last year, Creighton posted a NCAA-high 19 wins and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals … This season, Creighton has outshot its opponents, 53-23 … Alex Kapp, a transfer from Boston College, has played every minute in goal and has made 10 saves through three matches … The Bluejays are finding their way a bit after graduating six players – including MAC Hermann Player of the Year finalist Fabian Herbers – the sixth overall selection in the MLS SuperDraft in 2016 … Herbers had 15 goals and 17 assists last year, leading the nation in helpers … Creighton also is replacing two-time BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year Timo Pitter and two other MLS draft picks.
The Mavericks are 2-1-1 entering the weekend, and will take on DePaul Friday night … UNO has wins over San Francisco (3-1) and Drake (3-0) with its loss coming at No. 16 Connecticut (2-0) … The Mavs picked up appoint at No. 8 Creighton on Monday, scoring first and withstanding a 21-6 shot onslaught from the Blue Jays in a heated cross-town rivalry match … Omaha swept the Summit League weekly awards this week, with Fazio Alihodzic (Offensive) and Joseph Ghitis (Defensive) earning recognition … Alihodzic had two goals and two assists last week … Ghitis recorded a shutout and made five saves – including a PK stop – in the draw at Creighton … Six different players have scored for UNO this season … Opponents are just 1-for-3 on PKs against Omaha this season.