Women's Soccer Season in Review

2007 Final Stats (PDF)

PHILADELPHIA - When the 2007 season began, Penn head coach Darren Ambrose felt confident he would have a powerful offense with a lot of different weapons.

However, when junior co-captain Nicki White went down with a season-ending injury in the first half-hour of the first preseason practice, the Quaker defense became the great unknown.

Four months later, Ambrose can look back at the angst he may have felt with a little bit of a laugh. Did the defense recover? You bet. With a back line that featured two juniors (Eileen Larkin, Ellen Gregory), a sophomore (Michelle Drugan) and two freshmen (Kaitlin Campbell, Marisa Schoen), the Quakers shut out seven opponents and allowed more than one goal in just two matches. Overall, Penn gave up only 15 goals in 18 matches (a 0.81 goals-against average).

At the other end, the Quakers did exactly what Ambrose expected -- they scored goals. Bunches of them. All told, Penn dented the net 35 times in 2007, a total surpassed only by the program’s 1998 and 2001 teams. In addition, 10 different women scored for the Quakers.

The end result of all this? Unprecedented success.

Penn finished the 2007 season as Ivy League champions, at 6-1-0. It was the Quakers’ second Ivy title in program history -- they shared it in 2001 with Princeton and Dartmouth -- and first outright.

The Quakers went 13-4-1 overall, finishing just shy of the school record for wins in a season (14, set in 1997). Their .750 winning percentage matched the 1999 team for the second-best percentage in a season, behind only the 2001 squad (13-2-3, .806 winning percentage).

All this from a team that had no seniors on the roster, and started a majority of freshmen and sophomores.

“I thought our team did a great job throughout the season of focusing on each game as they came up,” said Ambrose. “They never got ahead of themselves, they concentrated on the task at hand each week and took it one step at a time. In that way, they showed a maturity beyond their years.”

Of course, Ambrose is quick to point out that this team, while young, boasted a lot of experience -- several of the sophomores and juniors were second and even third-year starters. After experiencing growing pains in 2006, they were able to put it together right from the start this fall.

“I think a lot of our players understood what was needed to have success before this season started,” said Ambrose. “And so they got here in August ready to go, and knowing what they needed to do. That experience paid dividends.”

The season got off to a promising start, when Saint Louis came to town and Penn pinned them with a 1-0 defeat. The Billikens were an NCAA-tested group, having advanced to the second round each of the previous two seasons. Following that, Penn drubbed Robert Morris, 4-1.

The following weekend, Penn outplayed Big Ten foe Michigan State, but the Spartans got a late goal and held on for a 1-0 win. The Quakers took out their frustrations on Saint Joseph’s two days later, drilling the Hawks, 6-0.

A trip to Chicago set up a match with another Big Ten opponent, this time Northwestern, and the result was a 1-1 draw. Two days later, playing at the new home of Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire, the Quakers rolled to another victory, this time 5-1 over Loyola-Chicago.

The next weekend began with a 3-1 win over La Salle, setting up a city showdown with then-unbeaten Villanova -- and that is where the wheels fell off. The Wildcats pounded the Quakers, 4-0, putting Penn at 5-2-1 heading into League play.

They say it is darkest before the dawn, however, and Penn recovered from the ‘Nova loss to play some of its best soccer of the year. The next weekend the Quakers shut out both Cornell (1-0) and non-Ivy foe Rider (2-0), and a week after that they made their first statement in Ivy play with a 2-1 win at defending conference champion Columbia.

The next two weekends were critical Ivy matches with perennial powers Dartmouth and Yale, but both were at home. The Quakers took advantage of the familiar surroundings to gain two more 2-1 wins, then followed up the Yale victory with another trouncing, this time 4-0 at UMBC in the final non-conference regular-season match of the season. That put Penn’s winning streak at six, tying a program record, and made the Quakers 11-2-1 overall.

The train got slightly off-track the next weekend, at Brown. The Bears and Quakers went scoreless for nearly the entire match, before Brown scored on a free kick with just 18 seconds left in the second and final overtime period to escape with a 1-0 win.

With the loss, the stage was set for Penn and Princeton to play for the Ivy title -- both teams entered the match at 4-1-0 in League play, with the winner gaining a share of the title as well as the upper hand for the conference’s NCAA automatic bid. With those stakes at play, the teams went into overtime before freshman Kristin Kaiser finished a cross from Mara Fintzi to give Penn the 1-0 win. One week later, the Quakers sealed the outright title with a 1-0 win at Harvard.

Penn was the Ivy’s only team into the 64-team College Cup, and drew James Madison in the first round. The Quakers fell to the Dukes, 2-0, after allowing two goals in a span of just 49 seconds early in the second half at Morgantown, W.Va.

At the end of the season, six Penn women earned All-Ivy honors, including junior Natalie Capuano and sophomore Jessica Fuccello who were both unanimous first-team selections. Sophomores Jess Rothenheber and Fintzi were second-team honorees, while junior Eileen Larkin and freshman Sarah Friedman received honorable mention.

Some notes on the 2007 season...
• At 13-4-1 overall, Penn matched the 1999 and 2001 teams for the second-most wins in program history (since 1991). Only the 1997 squad, which went 14-5-0, had more.

• This was Penn’s 11th straight season with a winning record; the Quakers have never had a losing record under eighth-year head coach Darren Ambrose.

• Penn finished 6-1-0 in the Ivy League, tying the best mark in program history, and won the outright Ivy League title for the first time; the Quakers tied for the championship in 2001.

• Penn won eight of its last nine regular-season matches. Prior to a loss at Brown—where the Bears scored with 18 seconds left in the second overtime—the Quakers tied a school record for consecutive wins in a season with six.

• Penn played three overtime matches this season, tying Northwestern (1-1), losing to Brown (1-0) and beating Princeton (1-0).

• With 35 goals, this year’s team scored more than any other team in Penn history with two exceptions. Only the 1998 (42) and 2001 (39) teams scored more goals in a campaign.

• Penn led the Ivy League in overall goals (35), assists (32) and points (102).

• You wanted to beat Penn this season? There was only one common ingredient: shut them out. The Quakers were 13-0-1 when they scored, 0-4-0 when they did not.

• At the other end, Penn allowed just 15 goals in 18 matches; that continued a trend from last year, when the Quakers allowed 14 goals in 16 matches.

• Penn’s +20 goal differential this season (35-15) was surpassed only by 1998 (42-15, +27) and 2001 (39-13, +26).

• In Ivy play, Penn allowed just four goals in seven matches, giving the Quakers the lowest goals-against average in the League (0.55).

• Penn had 10 different women score goals this season, and 12 record points.

• Sophomore Jessica Fuccello scored Penn’s goal against Harvard after being held scoreless against Brown and Princeton; prior to that, she had a five-match goalscoring streak, and all of the goals during that streak were Penn’s first in those matches.

• Fuccello led the Ivy League in overall goals (11) and points (26); both of those totals tied her for fifth on Penn’s all-time single-season list with Jill Callaghan in 1998.

• Fuccello’s 11 goals came in 10 different games.

• Fuccello has 20 goals for her short collegiate career; believe it or not, that already places her fifth on Penn’s all-time list.

• Sophomore Jess Rothenheber, meanwhile, tied for tops among Ivy players in assists (9) and was fourth in points (19).

• With nine assists this season, Rothenheber tied for second on Penn’s single-season list (with Meg Kinney in 1994); the single-season record of 10 was set in 2001 by the program’s all-time leading scorer, Katy Cross.

• Talk about a dynamic duo: six of Fuccello’s goals this season -- including five of her last six -- were directly off a Rothenheber pass.

• Sophomore Mara Fintzi finished fourth among Ivy players in overall assists (6) and tied for seventh in overall points (14).

• Fintzi’s assist total is good for eighth on Penn’s all-time single-season list.

• Junior Molly Weir was tied for seventh among Ivy players in overall assists (4) and tied for 10th in overall points (12).

• Four different players had multi-goal games this season, and each did it just once -- Fintzi (vs. Saint Joseph’s), Weir (vs. Saint Joseph’s), Fuccello (vs. Loyola-Chicago) and Rothenheber (vs. La Salle).

• Junior Natalie Capuano -- already a second-year captain -- scored three times this season, with the last two coming on penalty kicks.

Download: WSOC Stats FINAL.pdf