PHILADELPHIA - Following Monday afternoon's 0-0 draw with Rice, Penn women's soccer coach Darren Ambroselooked unsure as to whetherhe shouldbreathe a sigh of relief at getting a tie or be frustrated at not getting a win.
Itwas probablya little bit of both, as both teams had numerous opportunities that went by the boards in the Quakers' season opener. Rice, an NCAA College Cup team each of the last two years, remains unbeaten at 3-0-1.
"Our fitness was going to be an issue today, we knew that, and it was," said Ambrose under a blazing sun. "That probably kept us from winning the match. By the same token, our heart was able to keep us from losing. We had some chances at the end, but our players were gassed and were unable to finish as they normally would."
It was a youthful squad that stepped onto the field for Penn Monday -- three freshmen started, and as many as six were on the field at the same time. The group was highlighted by goalkeeper Cailly Carroll, who came up with six saves to earn the shutout.
"I was really proud of Cailly," said Ambrose. "We needed this match to answer some questions, and it did. Whether or not we wanted it, we were walking into this match after only a week of preseason, so we had to have the mentality to be ready."
Rice got the best chances in the first half, including a header that beat Carroll but rang off the post back to her so she could smother it and then a breakaway that was thwarted at the last second. At the other end, Natalie Capuano forced a save from Rice goalkeeper Amy McClintock, and then freshman Jessica Fuccello tested the Owl keeper twice before the break -- once on a head, once with a nice outside-of-the-foot re-direction to the far corner.
After an uneventful second half, Penn nearly put things away in just the second minute of overtime when Capuano fed Rachel Fletcher with only McClintock to beat. However, Fletcher could not push the ball past the Rice GK soon enough and she saved it.
In the second overtime, the Quakers got two scares. The first came when a long free kick bounced high and nearly over Carroll's head, but she was able to snare it before it crossed the goalmouth. Just seconds later, Rice's Clory Martin rang a shot off the crossbar, but a Penn defender kicked it harmlessly away.
Penn was outshot by Rice, 14-11, and had four corner kicks to the Owls' six. McClintock matched Carroll in the save column with six stops.
Penn will host the Penn Women's soccer Invitational next Friday and Sunday. The action kicks off Friday at 5 p.m. with Princeton and Richmond, followed by the Quakers and Hofstra at 7:30 p.m.