PHILADELPHIA - In an emotional match between old rivals, the University of Pennsylvania women's soccer team came up short against Princeton, 3-2, Saturday night at Rhodes Field.
It was Senior Night at Rhodes, as six Quaker players -- Carolyn Cross, Jessica Keeley, Jenna Linden, Meg Pittman, Jennifer Price and Robin Watson -- played their final matches in a Penn uniform.
The night got off to a good start for the Quakers (8-6-3, 2-3-2 Ivy), when Rachel Fletcher took a lovely cross fromCross and one-timed it from point-blank range in just the seventh minute. However, the Tigers (8-6-2, 5-2-0) equalized on the half-hour when a corner kick was accidentally headed into the Penn goal by a Quaker defender for an own goal.
In the second half,Princeton -- which entered the match still hanging on to hopes of earning the Ivy League title and NCAA bid based on this weekend's results -- notched a pair of goals just 10 minutes apart to take a commanding 3-1 lead. The first came when Emily Behncke collected a ball from Ashley Beyers on the left side and calmly slotted a shot between two Quaker defenders and Keeley into the far corner. The third goal was a long-range effort by Aarti Jain that bounced high off the hard turf and got over Keeley before she could recover.
Penn quickly responded with a goal of its own, asCross notched her team-leading seventh goal of the season with assists going to Natalie Capuano and Tracy Bienenfeld just 1:59 after Princeton's third goal. However, that would be as close as the Quakers would get, as Tiger goalkeeper Emily Vogelzang was equal to every effort after that en route to a five-save performance. For the match, shots were equal at 10 apiece.
"Our hearts are broken," said a visibly emotional Darren Ambrose following the match. "I thought we deserved better, we came out hard and played very well. We got on the wrong side on the scoreboard and had to fight to get back, and we are not a team built to do that this season. But I could not be more proud of our players, they left everything they had on the field tonight and that is all you can ask for as a coach.
"I thought we responded well after going down 3-1," he continued. "We made a change up front that basically told our team we were going to do everything we could do tie and then win this match, and they answered that call. They gave it all they had. I thought we managed the match as well as we could have, and we showed great character."
Written by Mike Mahoney, director of athletic communications