Head Coach Darren Ambrose interview (Youtube.com)
PHILADELPHIA - The Penn women's soccer team is coming off a historic season in 2011, and with seven starters and 14 letterwinners back the Quakers are hoping for continued success in 2012. The campaign starts this weekend, as Penn hosts James Madison on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and Temple on Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. Both games are the back half of a doubleheader with the Penn men. Admission is free to all soccer contests at Rhodes Field.
The Series with James Madison: The Dukes lead the series, 3-1, but the Quakers got their first win last year, a 1-0 decision in Harrisonburg, Va. as Theresa Yankovich scored. Two of the four meetings between these teams have been in NCAA Championship first-round matches, in 1999 (a 1-0 JMU win in Harrisonburg) and 2007 (a 2-0 Dukes win in Morgantown, W.Va.)
About JMU: The Dukes (2-1-0) are already three matches into their season, with wins over Marshall (2-1 in overtime) and Temple (2-0) sandwiched around a loss to Georgetown (0-1). Captain Kelly Germain has a goal and two assists so far this season and lead JMU with four points, while Lauren Wilson has a goal and an assist. Kelly Kerrigan and Eileen Sechler have JMU's other goals so far in 2012. At the other end, Kate Courter has played every minute and boasts a 0.66 goals-against average with 12 saves.
The Series with Temple: The Quakers and the Owls have met 10 times previously, with both sides holding five wins. Penn has dominated the most recent matchups, winning five in a row before Temple won the most recent meeting which came in the 2006 season.
About Temple: Like James Madison on Friday, Temple (0-2-1) is into its third weekend of regular-season play, giving the Owls a bit of a jump on their Sunday hosts. Temple started the season with a tie at Stony Brook, then lost last weekend to Hofstra and James Madison; the Owls play NJIT on Friday. Jourdan Brill and Kate Yurkovic have Temple's goals so far this season, while goalkeeper Tara Murphy has a 2.00 goals-against average and 26 saves already this season.
*Seven starters and 14 letterwinners overall return this year from last year's historic squad, which went 14-2-1 overall including a 5-1-1 mark in the Ivy League (good for second place behind Harvard). Penn is 9-2-3 in Ivy League play the last two years combined.
*Penn's captains for 2012 are seniors Erin Beck and Alex Dayneka along with junior Claire Walker. Beck is a second-year captain.
*Penn returns three All-Ivy players from a year ago, two first-teamers in Beck and senior goalkeeper Sarah Banks. Junior forward Kathryn Barth was a second-team selection in 2011.
*In addition, Penn figures to be bolstered by the return of junior Kerry Scalora. The 2010 Ivy League and ECAC Rookie of the Year and second-team All-Ivy was injured in the Quakers' sixth game a year ago and missed the remainder of the season.
*Penn returns three of its top four scorers from a year ago in Barth (8g, 8a), sophomore Megan York (5g, 1a) and sophomore Callan Parra (4g, 2a). Yet another sophomore, Clara Midgley, scored four goals.
*Banks started 16 of Penn's 17 matches last year, allowing just five goals for a 0.42 goals-against average that was among the national leaders.
*The defense figures to be led by Dayneka and fellow senior Erin Thayer, who is in her third year starting on the back line and was in the middle last year.
*Junior Brianna Rano saw time on the wing last year as both a midfielder and defender, and her six assists were second among Penn players in 2011.
Last year's team put up some staggering numbers including...
*The best record in program history by percentage (14-2-1, .853).
*The 14 wins tied for most in program history (also 1997) and the two losses tied for fewest in program history (also 2001).
*An eight-match win streak, longest in program history (previous record six).
*The team allowed just seven goals all season, a program record (previous mark 13), and scored 39 goals which was tied for second-most in program history (also 2001).
*Penn posted 13 shutouts in 17 matches, setting a program record and leading the nation at the NCAA Division I level in shutout percentage (.765).
*Penn finished last year third nationally in goals-against average (0.41), sixth in win percentage (.853), and seventh in save percentage (.887).