PHILADELPHIA – All a coach can ask for is that his players take coaching to heart and do their best to execute the game plan accordingly. On Tuesday night, University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer head coach Rudy Fuller can reflect on the second-half adjustments his team made and be pleased as his club erupted for three goals in the final period en route to a 3-0 win over Saint Joseph’s for Penn’s first victory of the 2015 campaign.
At halftime, Coach Fuller was pleased with his team’s effort. The Quakers held a 13-4 edge in shots and a 10-3 advantage in corner kicks. However, he felt that they also had more to give. He implored his charges to hunt at those opportunities in the dangerous areas, to get gritty when it came time to win a ball.
Sophomore Marc Kaizi-Lutu took those instructions to heart. After coming on in the 61st minute, he needed just 3:11 to net his first goal of his career when he dove into a Gavin Barger corner kick and headed in the first goal of the match.
After going 410:56 without a goal dating back to the FIU match September 10, the Quakers exploded for three goals in the final 26:10 of play against the Hawks, improving to 1-5-1 this season.
In the 77th minute, Kaizi-Lutu served the role of set-up man, knocking a ball down at the top of the box and slipping it to an onrushing Austin Kuhn. The sophomore midfielder took a touch and launched a shot just under the crossbar to give Penn a 2-0 lead.
The game was effectively iced in the 89th minute when Erumuse Momoh opened his collegiate account. Momoh charged down the left side in stride, and sent a low ball to the far right post.
Senior goalkeeper Nick Savino made two saves for his first collegiate shutout. Both stops came in the second half, the first just 33 seconds into the final period, and the second coming in the 88th minute and the Hawks looking to mount a late comeback.
Penn took control of the game without the services of two of its tri-captains. Matt Poplawski did not play due to an injury suffered late in last week's match against Penn State. Forward Alec Neumann was limited to just 31 minutes in the first half after he suffered a knock early in the match. Still, a young Red and Blue squad rallied around the circumstances -- no wins in 11 matches and 14 healthy field players -- and found a way to gain some momentum heading into the conference portion of their season.
The Quakers will open Ivy League play on Saturday, hosting Cornell at Rhodes Field. Kickoff for the Ancient Eight season is set for 7 p.m. on the Ivy League Digital Network.