Women's Soccer Draws James Madison in NCAAs

2007 Women's College Cup bracket

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Penn's NCAA College Cup Notes

PHILADELPHIA - The Penn women’s soccer program is ready to party like it’s 1999 -- although, truth be told, they would rather have a different result.

You see, in 1999 the Quakers earned their first-ever NCAA College Cup bid, and drew James Madison in the first round. The Dukes won that contest, 1-0.

On Monday night, the Penn players waited and waited before seeing their name on the ESPNews screen, as the 64-team College Cup field was announced for this year. When it finally came up, the Quakers had drawn...yup, James Madison.

Friday at 3:30 p.m., they will meet each other at the Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va., in a first-round matchup hosted by West Virginia University. The Mountaineers, who drew a No. 4 seed, will host Navy at 6 p.m. in the other first-round match at that site. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children and students, and are available ahead of time by calling 1-800-WVU-GAME or visiting the Mountaineer ticket office in the WVU Coliseum.

The winners of Friday's matches will then meet Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. in a second-round match, also in Morgantown.

“I think, when we found out we were not going to Penn State, some of the players maybe had dreams of going out to California,” joked head coach Darren Ambrose following the selection show. “This is a little bit more of a trip than maybe we were expecting, but I saw James Madison as a very real first-round possibility for us.

“It was great to see the reaction of the women when they saw our name on that screen,” he continued. “You know your name is going to be up there, but it is still an exciting moment when you actually see it. The anticipation can drive you crazy.”

JMU, playing in the NCAA tournament for the eighth time in the past 13 years, will take a 16-4-1 record into Friday’s game. The Dukes, who received an at-large NCAA berth, are coming off a 2-0 loss to Hofstra last Friday in semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.

This will actually be Penn's third matchup all-time with James Madison; in addition to that 1999 NCAA match, the Quakers droppeda 1-0 decision to the Dukes early in the 2002 season. This is also Penn's third NCAA appearance overall; in 2001, the Quakers fell to Villanova in the first round, 2-0.

"Obviously it is too early to say what our plan will be for this game, but I do not see us changing too much from what we have been doing," said Ambrose. "We have a lot of momentum right now, and we have been playing with a lot of confidence. This is a great opportunity for us, but obviously James Madison is sitting in Harrisonburg thinking the same thing. I anticipate a great match Friday."

Some notes on Penn entering the NCAA College Cup first round...

• Penn is making its third appearance in the national championship tournament; the others came in 1999 (a 1-0 loss to James Madison in the first round) and 2001 (a 2-0 loss to Villanova in the first round).

• Penn will be playing James Madison for the third time in program history; in addition to their 1999 NCAA tilt, the teams met up in 2002, with the Dukes taking a 1-0 decision in Harrisonburg, Va.

• The trip to Morgantown represents a homecoming for Penn assistant coach Ashley Weimer, who played for the Mountaineers before graduating in 2005.

• Penn has no seniors on its roster; in its most recent match, at Harvard, the Quakers started four juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen, and the only two players to come off the bench and play were freshmen.

• Penn has had a successful campaign despite season-ending ACL injuries before the season to junior Nicki White (a second-team All-Ivy back as a sophomore last year) and sophomore Marisa Stock (the second ACL injury of her collegiate career; Stock was the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Jersey as a high school senior in 2005).

• At 13-3-1 overall, Penn has matched the 1999 and 2001 teams for the second-most wins in program history (since 1991). Only the 1997 squad, which went 14-5-0, had more.

• This is Penn’s 11th straight season with a winning record; the Quakers have never had a losing record under eighth-year head coach Darren Ambrose.

• Penn finished 6-1-0 in the Ivy League, tying the best mark in program history, and won the outright Ivy League title for the first time; the Quakers tied for the championship in 2001.

• Penn has won eight of its last nine matches. Prior to a loss at Brown -- where the Bears scored with 18 seconds left in the second overtime -- the Quakers tied a school record for consecutive wins in a season with six.

• Penn played three overtime matches this season, tying Northwestern (1-1), losing to Brown (1-0) and beating Princeton (1-0).

• With 35 goals to date, this year’s team has scored more than any other team in Penn history with two exceptions. Only the 1998 (42) and 2001 (39) teams scored more goals in a campaign.

• Penn leads the Ivy League in overall goals (35), assists (32) and points (102).

• You want to beat Penn this season? Only one ingredient has worked to date: shut them out. The Quakers are 13-0-1 when they score, 0-3-0 when they do not.

• At the other end, Penn has allowed just 13 goals; that continues a trend from last year, when the Quakers allowed 14 goals in 16 matches.

• Penn’s +22 goal differential this season (35-13) is surpassed only by 1998 (42-15, +27) and 2001 (39-13, +26).

• In Ivy play, Penn allowed just four goals in seven matches, giving the Quakers the lowest goals-against average in the League (0.55).

• Penn has allowed just one goal in its last four matches; that goal came with 18 seconds left in the second overtime at Brown.

• Penn has had 10 different women score goals this season, and 12 record points.

• Sophomore Jessica Fuccello scored Penn’s goal against Harvard after being held scoreless against Brown and Princeton; prior to that, she had a five-match goalscoring streak, and all of the goals during that streak were Penn’s first in those matches.

• Fuccello leads the Ivy League in overall goals (11) and points (26). both of those totals tie her for fifth on Penn’s all-time single-season list with Jill Callaghan in 1998.

• Fuccello’s 11 goals have come in 10 different games.

• Fuccello has 20 goals for her short collegiate career; believe it or not, that already places her fifth on Penn’s all-time list.

• Sophomore Jess Rothenheber, meanwhile, is tied for tops among Ivy players in assists (9) and is fourth in points (19).

• With nine assists this season, Rothenheber is tied for second on Penn’s single-season list (with Meg Kinney in 1994); the single-season record of 10 was set in 2001 by the program’s all-time leading scorer, Katy Cross.

• Talk about a dynamic duo: six of Fuccello’s goals this season -- including five of her last six -- have been directly off a Rothenheber pass.

• Sophomore Mara Fintzi is fourth among Ivy players in overall assists (6) and tied for seventh in overall points (14). Fintzi’s assist total is good for eighth on Penn’s all-time single-season list.

• Junior Molly Weir is tied for seventh in overall assists (4) and tied for 10th in overall points (12).

• Four different players have had multi-goal games this season, and each did it just once -- Fintzi (vs. Saint Joseph’s), Weir (vs. Saint Joseph’s), Fuccello (vs. Loyola-Chicago) and Rothenheber (vs. La Salle).

• Junior Natalie Capuano -- already a second-year captain -- has scored three times this season, with the last two coming on penalty kicks.

• Capuano spent time last spring and summer with the U.S. Under-21 National Team; her first stint came at the 2007 Futbol Internacional Championship in Alabama in April, and then she scored a goal during a competition in Germany.

• Sophomore Sara Rose got the shutout last weekend at Harvard, the seventh clean sheet by the Quakers this season; in 11 appearances this season, Rose has a 0.66 goals-against average.

• Of course, one of the reasons Rose -- and classmate Cailly Carroll, who has seven appearances but has been out the last several weeks with a hand injury -- have such gaudy numbers is because of the defense in front of them. In 17 matches this season, the Quaker goalies have been forced to make just 44 saves.

• Opponents have attempted just 128 shots this season (7.5 per game), of which 57 have been on goal (3.3 per game).

• Penn has garnered seven shutouts each of the last four seasons, including this year.

Anatomy of a Season...

Aug. 31 - A sign of things to come? In the season opener, facing a Saint Louis team that was an NCAA College Cup second-round team each of the last two years, the Quakers gain a 1-0 win on a Jessica Fuccello goal.

Sept. 7 - Penn outshoots Michigan State, 12-9, and takes nine corner kicks to one for the Spartans; yet it is MSU that escapes Rhodes Field with a 1-0 win.

Sept. 9 - Just two days later, Mara Fintzi scores twice in the first six minutes to set the tone for the day in a 6-0 win over Saint Joseph’s; Molly Weir rolls up six points in the win, with two goals and two assists.

Sept. 16 - The Quakers meet Loyola-Chicago at the brand-new Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. (home of MLS’s Chicago Fire), and roll to a 5-1 win.

Sept. 23 - Probably the low point of the season, as Penn goes out to the Main Line and gets steamrolled by then-unbeaten Villanova (7-0-2), 4-0.

Sept. 28 - The Ivy season starts with Cornell, and a Big Red own goal provides the margin of victory for the Quakers.

Oct. 6 - the first message match of the season; Fuccello and Natalie Capuano score as Penn goes to New York and knocks off defending Ivy League champion Columbia, 2-1.

Oct. 23 - Penn rolls to a 4-0 win at UMBC, tying a school record for consecutive wins in a single season (6).

Oct. 28 - Penn suffers its first loss in more than a month -- and what will be its only Ivy loss in 2007 -- when Brown scores with just 18 seconds left in the second overtime period for a 1-0 win.

Nov. 3 - With a share of the Ivy title going to the winner, Penn knocks off Princeton in overtime at Rhodes Field, 1-0, when freshman Kristin Kaiser heads home Mara Fintzi’s cross.

Nov. 10 - Penn clinches the Ivy championship outright for the first time in program history with a 1-0 victory at Harvard.

Download: WSOC NCAA Notes.pdf