Penn is playing its Ivy League home opener Sunday, meeting Harvard at 1 p.m. on Rhodes Field.
This is the 16th meeting between the Quakers and the Crimson in women’s soccer, and Harvard has dominated the series, 11-2-2. However, Penn won the 2004 meeting, 1-0, and then the two teams drew last year, 0-0.
Penn is looking to recover from an excrutiating loss Wednesday to Temple, 2-0, in Ambler, Pa. The Quakers fell to the Owls despite outshooting them by a staggering 21-3 count. However, Temple made the most of its chances, converting the two shots it put on net, while at the other end the Owl goalie came up with 14 saves.
Last weekend, Penn defeated UNC-Greensboro (3-2) and East Carolina (1-0) in its first road games of the season. In the win over UNCG, the Quakers gave up two goals before the match was five minutes old, but came back with three of their own to gain the victory.
Prior to that, Penn was unbeaten in its first five matches, the Quakers’ best start since 2001 (that team ended up 13-2-3 and played in the NCAA College Cup first round).
Penn freshman forward Jessica Fuccello was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week and also earned a spot on the SoccerBuzz.com Elite Team of the Week after scoring the match-winning goals in both of the Quakers’ road wins last weekend. They were the first two goals of her collegiate career.
Senior defender Tracy Bienenfeld entered the season with one collegiate goal. She has doubled that in this season alone, scoring the overtime winner against Richmond the last time the Quakers were at home, then following it up with another goal at UNC-Greensboro last Friday. She later assisted Fuccello’s winner at UNCG.
Harvard comes to Rhodes Field still looking for its first win of the 2006 season. The Crimson have endured a daunting early-season schedule, playing teams that are currently ranked No. 5 (Santa Clara), No. 9 (Penn State) and No. 12 (Boston University) in the latest NSCAA national coaches’ poll.
If Harvard’s first-year coach, Erica Walsh, seems like a familiar face to Penn fans, they might remember that she was head coach at another Ivy League school -- Dartmouth -- from 2000-02 and led the Big Green to a pair of Ivy titles during her three-year reign.
Connections: Last year, Walsh was on the coaching staff at Florida State and helped lead the Seminoles to the College Cup semifinal. Her fellow assistant? Mick Statham, who was Darren Ambrose’s assistant here at Penn in 2004 and is now head coach at Lafayette.