PHILADELPHIA - The Penn women's soccer team dropped a tough, 1-0 match to Michigan State Friday night at Rhodes Field. With the loss, the Quakers fell to 2-1-0 on the young season, while the Spartans improved to 2-1-0 with the victory.
Penn lost the match despite outshooting MSU, 12-9, and taking a staggering nine corner kicks to the Spartans' one. However, it was a night where the breaks simply did not go the Quakers' way.
"On the night, I thought we were the better team," said head coach Darren Ambrose. "You look at the opportunities, and I think we held the day in that regard. However, Michigan State is an athletic team from a great conference, and they took advantage of their athleticism and got the goal that mattered. Hats off to them for the win."
Penn had two stellar opportunities in the first 15 minutes of the match, but the efforts turned into a harbinger of how the night would go. Just nine minutes in, sophomore Jessica Fuccello headed a free kick that Michigan State goalkeeper Nicole Galas had to extend to stop. The rebound fell to the feet of Mara Fintzi, but before she could collect it and deposit it Galas was able to corral it.
Just minutes later, Jess Rothenheber lined up a bullet from about 20 yards out that Galas got a hand on and parried off the crossbar. It looked like Fuccello might be in line to convert the rebound, but the ball's hop put her in an awkward position and she could not get a handle.
While Penn dominated most of the early action, Michigan State came to life late in the first half -- a theme that would be repeated in the second stanza. With 13 minutes to go before the break, MSU's Maureen Pawlak shook through the defense and got a wide-open opportunity directly in front of the Penn goal. However, she overshot and put it wide.
The second half started with a corner kick for Penn, and Natalie Capuano nearly put the Quakers up when she headed Rothenheber's corner to the near post. However, a Michigan State defender was on the pole and stopped it from crossing the line, then kicked it away.
Things settled down after that -- in fact, only one more shot the rest of the night would be on goal. That would be Pawlak's scoring effort with just 5:19 left in regulation, which found its way over the line despite a load of traffic. The goal came off a free kick from the right side, which was sent in by Michelle Telebar and re-directed by Lauren Hill before Pawlak finished it.
In a reversal of the first weekend, sophomore Sara Rose was in goal for Penn while classmate Cailly Carroll sat out the match with an injury. Rose finished with three saves. At the other end, Galas was called on for five stops, and also snuffed out numerous Quaker efforts with her size and athleticism.
The Quakers are back in action Sunday afternoon, hosting Saint Joseph's in the final match of a four-game set at home to start the season. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.