The Penn men’s soccer team has a long and storied tradition. In the early fall of 1905, it was announced that the University would be establishing an “association football” team, which would be ready for play in the spring. With a dozen or so students signed up, the Quakers began practicing the “interesting and very mildly exciting” game that seemed to bear a resemblance to football.
According to an October 1905 issue of the Old Penn Weekly Review, despite popularity of the game in the Philadelphia area, many were skeptical. “[The game] is played to some extent at a few universities...but all efforts that have been made to popularize it either with American students and audiences have been failures.”
But the team forged ahead and on Oct. 24, 1905 the very first organized game of soccer was held on Franklin Field. Nearly 3,000 spectators turned out for the “socker” [sic] match-up between the Pilgrims and Penn Past and Present. The English amateur team proved to be too experienced for the fledgling Quakers as they won 10-0.
With newly elected team captain Harold H. Morris, a medical student who had played soccer at Haverford College as an undergraduate, the Association Football Eleven began to prepare for its next challenge against Toronto University. It was another tough loss for the Quakers, as they fell 5-1 on Franklin Field. The outing, however, was impressive to those who attended.
Two weeks later on Dec. 16, 1905, Penn joined Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, Princeton and Haverford in forming the Intercollegiate Association Football League, the first organized league of its kind.
The intercollegiate soccer season got underway on March 10, 1906 as the Red and Blue matched up with Haverford. The Fords came away with the victory, downing Penn, 2-1. Depsite losing their first game, the Quakers put together a 3-2 record finishing second to Haverford in the league.
That first season set the precedent in a winning tradition built by eleven hardworking, determined athletes. After the Toronto game, the Old Penn Weekly Review noted that “there is no doubt but that the game will grow in interest as our colleges learn to play it,” How very true that statement was as the program has flourished over the past 100 seasons, with six Ivy League championships.
The men’s soccer teamed brought home on of the University’s first Ivy League Championship in 1955. That season, Penn went 5-1 under the leadership of Head Coach Charley Scott, to tie with Harvard for the Ivy reign and forward Gustab Gutierrez became the first of 48 Quakers to earn All-Ivy honors.
Written by Kelly McCarthy, athletic communications assistant