PRINCETON, N.J. -- The Penn women's soccer team scored a stirring 2-2 draw with Loyola Marymount Thursday night at the Princeton Women's Soccer Invitational. The Quakers gave up two quick goals to a lethal Lion team, but came back with goals late in both halves to gain the tie.
"I am so excited to get the result," said head coach Darren Ambrose. "Loyola Marymount has a very athletic side, and they put us back on our heels the first 15-20 minutes. But I was proud of the character we showed in coming back, and especially that it happened with so many young players on the field."
It looked like the speedy Lions were going to run away with the match, as they scored twice in the first 20 minutes. Lori Sims was the goalscorer both times. The first tally came at the 17:03 mark, when Sims took a pass from Kelly Lewandowski and fired a shot that beat Jessica Keeley.
Just 1:44 later, Keeley misplayed a ball that landed a Sims' feet, and the LMU senior was true in pushing it past the Penn goalkeeper into an open goal from 25 yards out.
The two goals seemed to wake the Quakers up, however, and soon they were stringing together passes and making strides toward the LMU goal. That pressure paid off with 2:31 left before halftime, when freshman Natalie Capuano took a pass from Eileen Larkin and sent a left-footed shot that was deflected by a Lion defender and settled in the goal just over the outstretched arms of LMU goalie Joslyn Slovek.
"That goal was critical," said Ambrose. "It turned the momentum in our favor. At halftime we told the players that were right in this game. It really gave us a lift and gave us the confidence heading into the second half."
The second half was a relatively tame affair, as neither side mustered any real threats. That all changed as the final seconds ticked off, though, as a Penn throw-in from a harmless spot near midfield qucikly turned into a Quaker goal. Tracy Bienenfeld sent in a long ball that became a scramble in front of the Loyola Marymount goal. Rachel Fletcher was able to corral the ball and push it into the far corner with just 22 seconds left on the clock.
The overtimes proceeded with drama, the height of it coming with exactly two minutes remaining when Keeley was sent off with a red card after she handled a breakaway attempt by Loyola Marymount. Withwalk-on goalkeeper Britney Binlerstepping between the pipes and the Quakers playinga womandown, LMU had a great opportunity to get the winner with a free kick directly in front from 20 yards out. However, the shot went well wide, and Penn survived for the draw.
"Jessica embodied what this match was about tonight," said Ambrose. "She made a mistake in the first half -- she knows it, we all know it. But she came back and she made a great play that saved the match for us in overtime. She responded so well, I could not be prouder of her effort."
Penn will now play Arizona -- a 2-1 winner over Princeton in Friday's first match -- Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Tigers' Lourie Love Field. The day begins with Princeton and Loyola Marymount at 11 a.m.
- written by Mike Mahoney, Director of Athletic Communications