PHILADELPHIA - After a season-opening split on the other side of the state, the Penn women’s soccer team is home for a pair of matches this weekend as the Quakers host the Penn Invitational. Penn will entertain Villanova, East Carolina and Hofstra in the event.
The event kicks off Friday at 5 p.m., as East Carolina and Hofstra start the weekend before Penn and Villanova renew their city rivalry at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, Penn will play ECU at 1 p.m., followed by Villanova and Hofstra at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Beset by injuries to several key returnees -- including last year’s two leading scorers, Jessica Fuccello and Jess Rothenheber -- Penn (1-1-0) got off to a slow start last weekend in losing its opener to Big East member Pitt, 3-1. The Quakers responded on Sunday, defeating Robert Morris 3-0 behind two goals from senior Natalie Capuano.
Notes on Penn...
Eight women started both matches last weekend in the Pittsburgh area: seniors Natalie Capuano and Molly Weir; junior Michelle Drugan; sophomores Kaitlin Campbell, Sarah Friedman, Kristin Kaiser and Marisa Schoen; and freshman Marin McDermott.
Another starter in the RMU match was junior Marisa Stock, who has missed almost all of the last two years to knee injuries. She was the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year in 2005.
Capuano’s two-goal game at Robert Morris was her first multi-goal game as a collegian. She had three goals last season, including two on penalty kicks.
Penn started two freshmen in the season opener, McDermott and goalkeeper Caroline Williams.
Freshman Ursula Lopez-Palm scored a goal in her first collegiate match, and added an assist in Sunday’s romp at RMU.
Another freshman, Theresa Yankovich, scored her first collegiate goal against the Colonials.
Friedman was credited with assists on three of Penn’s four goals last weekend. Just two matches into her sophomore season, she has eight for her career.
After Williams played in the opener, junior Sara Rose stepped between the pipes Sunday against Robert Morris. Junior Cailly Carroll continues to be nagged by injuries.
About Villanova: Penn’s Friday opponent comes to Rhodes Field with a 5-0-0 record and is ranked fourth in the NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Region poll. Most recently, the Wildcats hosted San Diego State and La Salle last weekend,winning both matches 3-2. Villanova has four women with three goals apiece this season -- Erin Hardiman, Kaitlin Ryan, Megan Verdeur and Grace Hawkins. Two others, Rachel Schuyler and Justine Wollner, have two each. Hardiman also had eight assists, giving her 14 points this season. Villanova has outscored its opponents, 18-5.
The Series With Villanova: The Wildcats lead the series, 10-0-1, with the only tie coming in 1996. Last year’s match at Villanova (a 4-0 Wildcat win) was the first meeting since 2004.
About East Carolina: The Pirates are Penn's Sundayopponent, and boast a3-1-0 record entering the weekend. Most recently, they endured a 1-0 loss at South Carolina on August 28 and a 2-1 overtime win at UNC-Wilmington last weekend. Five different women have scored for ECU, which boasts a 5-2 scoring edge on its opponents to date.
The Series With ECU: The Quakers own a 2-0 lead in the series, with wins in 1998 and 2006. The last meeting took place at East Carolina, and was a 1-0 decision.
About Hofstra: Hofstra -- which has won the CAA two of the last three years and advanced to the NCAA College Cup second round in 2007 -- began this season 0-2, losing to No. 11 Connecticut 1-0 and No. 9 Penn State 4-1. The Priderebounded last weekend with wins against Ivy foes Columbia (1-0) and Princeton (1-0), and are ranked third in this week's NSCAA Northeast Region poll. Tiffany Yovino has two of Hofstra’s three goals to date, while Diane Caldwell has also scored.
Quoting Head Coach Darren Ambrose
“We want to play good competition, and this weekend will certainly provide that. We know that we are capable of playing at the level of these teams, though, otherwise we wouldn’t schedule these matches. We have made strides since last week, and the goal again this weekend will be to play to the best of our abilities and let the results sort themselves out. I’m not sure we’re yet to the point where we can play 90 minutes at the level we want, but we are getting there and this weekend will help us in that way.”
“The schedule was done by design to set this up as our second weekend. We wanted to use last weekend as a chance to get our feet under us, and I think it worked out exactly as we thought it might.”
“Friday night’s match is one we try to schedule every year. Villanova is a very good side, but I think we match up well with them and should give them a good game. I’m sure that a lot of the women on our team who played in last year’s match will come out and play with some pride.”