PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania women's soccer team is ready to get going with the 2013 season. The Quakers kick things off this weekend with a pair of home matches, hosting Saint Peter's on Friday night and Mount St. Mary's on Sunday. Both games are the first half of a women's/men's doubleheader, and all matches will be played at Penn Park due to the continuing renovation at Rhodes Field.
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This weekend’s matches are historic for a couple of reasons. It not only marks the first time the Penn women’s soccer team has played at Penn Park, but the Sept. 6 start is the latest since the 2003 season.
First Time For Everything
Saint Peter's and Mount St. Mary'sshare a common fact: neither has ever played Penn in women’s soccer.
The Peacocks (0-2-0) are under first-year head coach Rob Bielan. They lost to Wagner on August 23 to start the season, 3-1, and then fell to NJIT last weekend, 3-2. Nicole Tafrow has a goal and an assist so far this season, while Ashley Drozd and Greta Vogel have also scored. At the other end, Molly O’Hanlon has been in the goal; she has a 3.00 GAA and six saves.
The Mount (1-3-0) opened the season with a 1-0 win at UMBC; since then, they have lost to Bucknell (2-0), Temple (1-0) and Towson (4-1). Emma Blair had the goal in the win over UMBC, while Alicia Mirando scored in the loss to Towson on a penalty kick. In goal, Rachel Bourne and Vicky Cocozza have both played 45 minutes in each match. Bourne holds a 1.50 goals against average and a .769 save percentage, while Cocozza -- who started vs. Temple and made nine first-half saves -- has a 2.00 GAA and a .789 save percentage.
*Penn is 23-8-2 overall in the last two seasons, and 27-9-4 over its last 40 matches dating back to the 2010 season. In those 40 matches, Penn has allowed just 26 goals.
*Penn returns two women who earned All-Ivy honors last year, seniors Kerry Scalora (first-team forward) and Brianna Rano (second-team defender). Scalora was also the 2010 Ivy League and ECAC Rookie of the Year. Senior Kathryn Barth was second-team All-Ivy and second-team NSCAA all-region two years ago, as a sophomore.
*Scalora led Penn in scoring last year, tallying four goals and three assists for 11 points. Two other returning players, Barth and Erin Mikolai, had three goals apiece.
*In addition to Mikolai, another sophomore to keep an eye on up front is Elissa Berdini. She had two goals and two assists last season.
*Three other returning players scored twice last year: senior Claire Walker -- who is a captain of this year’s team along with Scalora and Rano -- junior Kaitlyn Moore, and junior Clara Midgley.
*Moore will step into the middle of the park, looking to replace the graduated Erin Beck. Another returning candidate for that position is senior Laura Oliver.
*Penn lost its two central defenders from a year ago, All-Ivy pick Alex Dayneka and Erin Thayer. On the other hand, sophomores Caroline Dwyer and Jazmyne Simmons are two women who saw lots of time in the backfield along with Rano last year. Junior Haley Cooper also has experience.
*The goalkeeper position is also open after the graduation of Sarah Banks. Junior Katherine Myhre saw time in one game last year, she will battle for the spot with sophomore Kalijah Terilli -- who sat out last season due to injury -- and freshman Carrie Crook.