PHILADELPHIA - These are heady times for a Penn women’s soccer team that, remember, has no seniors on it and is relying on a lot of freshmen and sophomores.
The Quakers have won six in a row, are 11-2-1 overall (4-0-0 Ivy League), and rank sixth in the latest Mid-Atlantic Region poll conducted by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). In addition, Penn is receiving votes in the NSCAA national rankings.
“Honestly, we have not talked about it at all,” said head coach Darren Ambrose. “I think that is one of the strengths of this team, that they have not taken anything for granted. They know that any of these teams we play can beat us.
“I have been in situations with teams where we have gotten wrapped up in rankings, and it only complicates matters,” he continued. “This team’s only focus right now is Brown on Sunday, and continuing to do the things that we have been doing to get on this run.”
After a trio of weeks involving only Ivy League matches on the weekends, the women went out of conference for a “trap” game Tuesday at UMBC. Fortunately, the Quakers got an early goal, settled in, and rolled to a 4-0 win over the Retrievers to keep the beat going.
This weekend, it is back into Ivy play and a meeting with a Brown team that is never easy to face. Making matters more difficult, the match will take place Sunday in Providence. Although the Bears are 4-8-1 overall, they are 2-2-0 in the Ivy League and coming off a 4-0 whitewashing of Cornell last weekend.
“With this being an Ivy League road match, we really need to step it up,” said Ambrose. “Playing on the road is always tough, especially a team like Brown. They work hard, they come at you, and they have players who are dangerous up front. We will need another outstanding effort.”
Kickoff from Stevenson Field is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.
Some notes entering the weekend...
Penn and Brown kick off for the 17th time Sunday afternoon with the series deadlocked, 7-7-2.
Last year, the Quakers were down 2-0 with 10 minutes to go in Philadelphia, but came back with two late goals to gain the draw.
At 11-2-1, Penn has its most overall wins since the 2001 Ivy League co-championship team went 13-2-3.
Penn has won six matches in a row, which ties the 2001 team for the longest win streak by a Quaker team in a single season. (the 1997 and 1998 teams combined for nine straight wins, bridging wins in the last four games of the 1997 season and five wins to start 1998)
Penn is 4-0-0 in Ivy League play for the first time in program history; the Quakers are currently in first place in the conference, ahead of second-place Princeton which is 3-1-0.
Penn has scored 33 goals this season (compared to 24 in all of 2006); not surprisingly, the Quakers lead the Ivy League in goals, assists and points per game.
Penn’s goal total for this season is already fourth among all seasons in the program’s history; only the 1998 (42 goals), 2001 (39) and 1999 (34) teams are ahead of this year’s squad.
At the other end, Penn (0.84) is one of three Ivy teams with a goals-against average below 1.00, along with Harvard (0.70) and Columbia (0.81).
Sophomore Jessica Fuccello has scored a goal in each of the last five matches; beyond that, each of those goals have been the first scored by the Quakers in those matches. In fact, seven of Fuccello’s 10 goals on the season were Penn’s first in a game.
Fuccello has scored 10 times this season, which ties her for sixth on Penn’s single-season list along with Rachelle Snyder (who scored 10 times in 2001).
Fuccello now has 19 goals for her short collegiate career. Believe it or not, that already places her in a tie for fifth place on Penn’s all-time scoring list with Carolyn Cross (2002-05) and Kellianne Toland (1997-2000).
Fuccello leads the Ivy League in overall goals (0.71) and points (1.71) per game.
Sophomore Jess Rothenheber, meanwhile, remains tops among Ivy players in assists per game (0.57) and is second behind Fuccello in points per game (1.29).
With eight assists this season, Rothenheber is already third on Penn’s single-season list; she needs one to tie Meg Kinney (1994) for second place, and two to tie Katy Cross (2001) for first place.
With her three-point game at UMBC Tuesday, sophomore Mara Fintzi moved up to seventh in the Ivy League in points per game (0.93).
Sophomore Sara Rose has been in goal for the last four matches, earning the win each time. She has an overall goals-against average of 0.82.
Penn and Brown will finish up the Ivy weekend with their Sunday match; Yale (2-2-0) and Columbia (1-2-1) get things started Friday night in New York. On Saturday, Dartmouth (1-2-1) is at Harvard (2-2-0) for an 11 a.m. kickoff, while Cornell (0-4-0) is at Princeton (3-1-0) at 1 p.m.