PHILADELPHIA - Penn had dominated Saint Joseph’s in the first two meetings between these city schools, including a rout last year right on this same Rhodes Field.
On paper, Wednesday night’s game had all the elements of another simple win. Penn outshot SJU, 23-7, and put 15 on goal to the Hawks’ two. However, this is a far different Saint Joseph’s team than the Quakers are used to.
Penn took a pair of leads, saw the Hawks equalize on both, and then finally put away their resilient opponent with a pair of late goals to win, 4-2, at Rhodes Field.
Penn (5-3-1) won for the third game in a row, while Saint Joseph’s (6-3-1) saw a seven-match unbeaten streak come to an end.
Both teams had great chances in the game’s opening minutes. Penn nearly struck before the match was a minute old, but Molly Weir could not quite get enough foot on a ball in front and struck a point-blank shot wide. Only minutes later, SJU threatened when they got past Penn goalkeeper Sara Rose; however, Lauren Sawyer’s shot from about 15 yards out on the right side was deflected out of harm’s way by defender Michelle Drugan.
Saint Joseph’s committed just two fouls in the first half, but the first of them was certainly costly. Sarah Friedman made the Hawks pay, rocketing a 30-yard free kick from the right side into the upper left corner that SJU goalkeeper Cara Critchlow had no shot at getting. It was Friedman’s third goal of the season.
The Hawks struck back about 10 minutes later, with a nice buildup that led to Danielle DeBernardo feeding Jen Pfeiffer in front of the Quaker goal. Pfeiffer, SJU’s leading scorer, had no trouble burying the shot past goalkeeper Sara Rose to tie the match. The goal was the first allowed by Penn in more than 200 minutes of game action; the Quakers had entered Wednesday with a two-game shutout streak.
Penn continued to press the action throughout the stanza -- the Quakers would put 10 shots on goal to SJU’s one, and Critchlow had some superb saves to keep the match level. However, the home team’s diligence paid off in the final minute before the halftime whistle when a corner kick by Friedman landed directly at the feet of Natalie Capuano, and she slammed the ball into the goal from just a few yards out.
Saint Joseph’s again drew level early in the second half, winning a ball at midfield and parlaying that into its second goal of the night. This time the cross came fromPfeiffer on the left side, slid across the goalmouth, and an onrushing Maggie Lupinski put it into an open goal.
Once again put together enough to regain the lead, and once again Friedman played a central role. In the 67th minute, she played a long ball from beyond midfield that led Weir on a breakaway, and the senior had the poise to push it past an onrushing Critchlow into the goal. The Quakers later added insurance on another breakaway goal, this time when Mara Fintzi fed freshman Ursula Lopez-Palm with just about eight minutes left.
After being held scoreless in three of Penn's last four matches, Friedman finishedWednesday night with a goal and two assists. With Penn playing only half of its schedule for 2008 so far, Friedman has nine assists which is one shy of the program's single season (set in 2001 by Katy Cross).
Rose went the distance in goal for the Quakers and got the win. At the other end, Critchlow finished the night with 11 saves.
Penn is back in action Saturday night, traveling to Ithaca, N.Y. to face Cornell at 7 p.m.