PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania men's soccer team took on a tough test in its season debut for 2015, and the defense stood tall in a 0-0 draw with No. 7 Washington.
The back unit was under pressure throughout the match, with the Huskies outshooting the Quakers, 24-7, and having the edge in corner kicks, 13-7.
Senior goalkeeperMax Polkinhornewas ready every time he was called upon, making eight saves for his first clean sheet of the season.
The Quakers were never more in danger of conceding the match than in the final minutes of regulation. Washington earned six corner kicks in the final 3:03 of regulation, forcing Polkinhorne two make a pair of saves and watching a third shot towards goal get blocked. The Red and Blue were able to erase the sixth Washington corner of those final moments with 26 seconds on the clock, sending the match to overtime.
In the first extra frame, Penn outshot Washington, 4-2. The best chances came when Matt Poplawski had a shot from about 20 yards away blocked and moments later Jerel Blades found some space along the left side where he was able to muster a shot off the outside of his foot which was scooped up by Ryan Herman.
In the second overtime period, Washington took the first three shots, but missed the target each time. The Quakers had a look to steal the win in the final seconds, drawing a foul 30 yards from goal. Forrest Clancy lined up for the free kick, but got too much of it and sailed the offering high.
A new-look Quakers club took the field on Friday night, with six different starters on the field from the 2014 season. Four of those starters were newcomers to the lineup in freshmen Gavin Barger, Nigel Blackwood and Erumuse Momohandsophomore transfer Joe Swenson. The two other new starters – Aaron Chen (7th career start) and Griffin Heffner (14th career start) – were busy throughout the night at center back against a Husky squad which had scored four goals in two games to open the season.
Two other newcomers, Jerel Blades and Erik Swenson, came off the bench for the first action as collegiate soccer players.
NOTES: Max Polkinhorne’s sixth career shutout is Penn’s third consecutive shutout in a season opener … The last time Penn played a scoreless draw was 10/12/13 at Columbia … The last time Penn opened a season with a scoreless draw was 9/5/08 at Marquette … The last time Penn shutout a ranked opponent was a 1-0 win over No. 14 Brown (10/30/10) … Rudy Fuller is now 6-9-3 all-time in season openers as head coach of the Quakers … He is 12-3-3 in home openers in his time at Penn … His teams have recorded clean sheets in eight of his 18 season openers …Washington has now gone 312:04 of game play without conceding a goal, dating back to the NCAA Tournament against Michigan State in 2014.
The Quakers are right back to action, heading to the nation’s capital on Sunday to take on American University at 3 p.m.