PHILADELPHIA The Penn women’s soccer team kept pressing and pressing, and ultimately broke through to gain a 1-0 win against Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) foe North Carolina State Sunday afternoon at Rhodes Field.
“I am happy with the way we played today,” said Penn head coach Darren Ambrose. “The first half in particular, we did everything right but score. We said to the women at halftime, they needed to make sure to keep N.C. State from countering, and we did that for the most part. We possessed the ball well and defended well all day. A win over an ACC team is always a good thing.”
The Quakers (3-1-1) were rescued by Rachel Fletcher, who finished off a nice combination from the left side with a goal from directly in front. The play was set up by Nicky White, who sent a cross into the box from the left side. Jennifer Price received the ball at the far post, and set a nice one-touch at the feet of the onrushing Fletcher who buried it past a diving Kim Selz.
The goal was Fletcher’s team-leading fourth of the season, and those goals have come in four separate matches.
Penn had several other chances throughout the match, outshooting the Pack 15-5. In the first half, Jenna Linden was sprung for a breakaway, but Selz came out and made it a difficult play for Linden who could not finish. In the second half, Price -- a halftime substitution -- sent a shot toward goal from about 10 yards out that was cleared by a defender. Later on, a Robin Watson header off a corner kick looked ticketed for the back of the net but was kicked away by another N.C. State defender.
At the other end, Jessica Keeley was forced to make just two saves in earning her second-consecutive shutout, but she was called on twice early in the second half to save her team. The first came when she was forced to wander out of the box and win a footrace on a potential N.C. State breakaway, and the second came when the Pack did get a breakaway that she blocked from 12 yards out.
“Jessica did not see a lot of action today, but she made those two big plays when the match was still 0-0,” said Ambrose. “If they score on one of those, it is a completely different match.
“We prepared for this match in a certain way, and I was pleased that we came out and followed through on it,” he continued. “We continue to grow in confidence, and for a team with a lot of young players on the field we are showing maturity and poise. That is important as we get closer to our Ivy opener.”
Penn will open Ivy play next Saturday at Harvard, but prior to that they are back in action Wednesday afternoon, hosting George Mason at 3 p.m. on Rhodes Field.
Written by Mike Mahoney, Director of Athletic Communications