PHILADELPHIA - Sunday's Ivy League women's soccer opener for Penn and Harvard was a typical Ivy League affair. There was slow going early on, as the two teams tried to find the weaknesses. As the minutes rolled by, though, the pressure turned up.
Things reached a head in the final 20 minutes. To that point, the Quakers and the Crimson had gone relatively cold, with a few chances here and there but nothing too substantial. However, once Harvard's Erin Wylie got the scoring going, things opened up and both teams left it all on the field in a match the Crimson eventually won, 2-1.
Wylie got things going at 71:31 when she took a pass from Kelsi Chan inside the box on the right side, turned and shot it past Penn goalkeeper Cailly Carroll's right.
Nine minutes later, it looked like Harvard (1-6-1, 1-0-0) might seal the deal when Christina Hagner sent a ball in from the right side that was flicked on by Megan Merritt and landed at the feet of a wide-open Rachael Lau. Lau was able to push the ball into the upper corner, beyond Carroll's reach, doubling the Crimson's lead to 2-0.
However, before Harvard's celebration was even finished it was 2-1. Playing with sudden urgency, Penn (4-2-1, 0-1-0) got a free kick from about 40 yards out on the left side. Eileen Larkin sent a ball in that bounced through a few players and onto the head of Jessica Fuccello. The freshman nodded it past Harvard goalkeeper Lauren Mann, and suddenly the Quakers were back in it.
The Quakers then threw everyone forward in a desperate attempt to tie things up, and it almost worked. Molly Weir got behind the Harvard defense, but was denied on the right side by Mann on the breakaway -- the second time Mann got the better of Weir in a one-on-one situation. Just seconds later, Fuccello was in alone, but her shot was pushed aside, and Weir was unable to control the rebound and sent it wide.
Penn's final chance came from long distance, when freshman Jess Rothenheber teed up a 25-yard rocket that was ticketed for the upper corner. Mann was again equal to the challenge, diving and pushing the ball over the crossbar.
For the match, Mann came up with five saves as Penn outshot the Crimson, 17-12. At the other end, Carroll had three stops.
Penn is off until next week, when the Quakers travel to Ithaca, N.Y. to meet Cornell in another Ivy matchup.