PHILADELPHIA - The Penn women’s soccer team rolls into Ivy League play this weekend, hosting Harvard Saturday night at 7 p.m. on Rhodes Field. Last year, of course, the Quakers won the Ivy title outright for the first time in program history, and they clinched it with a 1-0 win against this Crimson program. But it is a new season and two new teams.
The Quakers are coming off a 3-0 midweek win over UMBC. Penn was sluggish to start the match, but once they got going they did not look back. Sophomore Kristin Kaiser scored her second goal of the season in the opening half, while juniors Michelle Drugan and Allyson Gordon both notched their first collegiate goals in the second stanza. Sara Rose got the start in goal and made just two saves in collecting the shutout.
One bit of a good news that came out of Penn’s win Wednesday was that junior Jess Rothenheber saw her first action of 2008. Rothenheber was the Quakers’ second-leading scorer a year ago and has been a second-team All-Ivy pick each of the last two years, but was hampered by injuries during the early part of this season. She played about 20 minutes in the win over UMBC.
Prior to Wednesday’s match, the last four teams Penn had played (Villanova, East Carolina, Richmond, Georgetown) entered the week a combined 24-5-3 so far this season, a .797 winning percentage.
Sophomore Sarah Friedman continues to shine for Penn; she has two goals and seven assists, and has figured in nine of the Quakers’ 14 goals this season.
Just seven matches into her sophomore year, Friedman has 12 career assists which ties her for eighth on Penn’s all-time list (with Andrea Callaghan, 1996-99).
Not even halfway through the season, Friedman’s seven assists have her tied for fourth place on Penn’s single-season list.
Friedman entered the week leading all Ivy League players in assists per game (1.17) and was second in points per game (1.83).
Freshman Marin McDermott scored her first collegiate goal at Georgetown; three newcomers have already scored this season for Penn (McDermott, Theresa Yankovich, Ursula Lopez-Palm).
Freshman Caroline Williams and junior Sara Rose split goalkeeping duties last weekend, as Williams faced Richmond and Rose faced Georgetown. Rose then got the shutout Wednesday, making just two saves.
The Crimson are unbeaten in their last six matches after starting the season with a pair of losses on the West Coast. Most recently, Harvard has tied Boston College (1-1) and Fairfield (0-0). Melanie Baskind leads the Crimson with eight points (3g, 2a), followed by Erin Wylie (2-0--4) and last year’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Katherine Sheeleigh (1-2--4). Sheeleigh and Lizzy Nichols were first-team All-Ivy selections in 2007, while Gina Wideroff and goalkeeper Lauren Mann were second-team All-Ivy.
The Penn-Harvard Series
The Crimson have dominated this series overall, with a 12-2-3 lead, but the last seven years have been split evenly at 2-2-3. Last year, of course, the Quakers clinched their outright Ivy title on Harvard’s Ohiri Field with a 1-0 win. The last time these two met on Rhodes Field, two years ago, Harvard came out with a 2-1 win. Believe it or not, Penn has never beaten Harvard on Rhodes Field.
Quoting Head Coach Darren Ambrose
“Harvard has a lot of good young players. I felt like last year they were on the cusp of some good things, and this year they are further along in their experience. We are definitely hosting a team that I think will be among the top in the Ivies this year.”
“Our team is excited, we are looking forward to starting Ivy League play. We have not talked to the team about defending our title, we are approaching it as a new season and this is a new team and this is our first Ivy game.”
“I think we have built up well to this weekend, but obviously the test is still to come on Saturday. The goal has been for us to hit our stride entering Ivy play, and I think we are in a position to do that. We have experienced players who understand the intensity of these games and have been through it before. So I think we are ready to go.”