PHILADELPHIA - Through two weekends of Ivy League play, the Penn women’s soccer team is one of just two squads left undefeated (along with Princeton).
In other words, parity reigns.
On Saturday night, the Quakers host Dartmouth in another important conference match at Rhodes Field. The women will kick off at 5 p.m. in the first half of a doubleheader, as the Penn and Dartmouth men will follow at 7:30 p.m.
“Playing this match at home is very important for us,” said head coach Darren Ambrose. “Like every other team in our league, we expect to win at home. We have been playing well at home this year, and when you perform like we have you tend to get results.”
At 8-2-1 overall, the Quakers have already matched their win total from each of the last two seasons. And the 2-0-0 start in conference play already gives Penn more wins than last year.
“Last year we had experience losing, but this year we are getting experience in winning, and there’s a huge difference,” said Ambrose. “We have gotten a little bit of momentum going, and we need to keep it for this weekend.”
Dartmouth comes to Rhodes Field with a 3-7-1 record, having lost 10 seniors from a team that went 6-1-0 in Ivy play a year ago (12-4-1 overall). Nevertheless, Ambrose is wary of the Big Green.
“I think Dartmouth is a very different team than they were a year ago,” said Ambrose. “However, they are still a good team, Angie Hind is a good coach and she has them well-organized. You know what you are going to get when you play Dartmouth, they are traditionally a physical, hard-working side.”
Some notes heading into the weekend...
Penn and Dartmouth kick off Saturday’s doubleheader with the their 17th meeting in women’s soccer; the Big Green holds an 11-4-1 lead in the series.
Dartmouth has won the last two matches in this series, 1-0 last year in Hanover and 1-0 two years ago here at Rhodes Field.
At 8-2-1, Penn has already matched its win total from each of the last two years. The Quakers have gotten off to a 2-0-0 start in Ivy play in the process.
Penn has already scored 25 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.
At the other end, Penn is one of just three Ivy teams with a goals-against average below 1.00, at 0.89. The others are Columbia (0.61) and Harvard (0.62).
Sophomore Jessica Fuccello scored Penn’s first goal last weekend at Columbia, finishing a free kick from classmate Jess Rothenheber with a header that went back across the goalmouth and into the goal. Later, Mara Fintzi drew a penalty kick, and Natalie Capuano drilled it to give the Quakers a 2-1 win over the defending Ivy champion Lions.
Fuccello has scored seven times this season, giving her 16 goals for her short collegiate career. Believe it or not, that already places her ninth on Penn’s all-time goalscoring list. Next up? Rachelle Snyder and Kelly Stevens, both of whom had 18 career goals. Fuccello leads the Ivy League in overall goals (0.64) and points (1.45) per game.
Rothenheber, meanwhile, is tied for tops among Ivy players in assists per game (0.55).
Sophomore Sara Rose got the start in goal last weekend, and came up with three saves in downing Columbia. You can expect to see her between the pipes again Saturday. Overall, Rose has a 0.87 goals-against average.
Dartmouth went 6-1-0 in the Ivy League last year, finishing behind only Columbia, and went 12-4-1 overall. Ten seniors graduated from that squad, and inexperience and an ambitious early schedule have combined for a slow start.
That said, the Big Green earned its first Ivy victory last weekend at Yale, when Maggie Goldstein scored in the 85th minute. It was her second straight Ivy match with a goal.
In other Ivy League women’s soccer action Saturday, defending champion Columbia is at unbeaten Princeton (1 p.m.); Brown is at Harvard (2:30 p.m.); and Yale hosts Cornell in New Haven, Conn. (4 p.m.).