PHILADELPHIA – The Nicole Van Dyke coaching era begins for the University of Pennsylvania women’s soccer program on Sunday, as the Quakers host Seton Hall in the first game of the 2015-16 academic year for any Penn team. Kickoff is 1 p.m. on Rhodes Field.
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The Series with Seton Hall
The Quakers hold a 3-0-0 lead over the Pirates, but this is the first matchup between these two programs since 2003. All three of Penn’s wins came by a goal, and they came in 1999 (3-2), 2002 (3-2), and 2003 (1-0).
About Seton Hall
The Pirates (0-2-1) enter the weekend having already played three regular-season matches. They opened last weekend with a tournament at James Madison, falling to William & Mary 5-1 and then the host Dukes 5-0. On Thursday, SHU was at La Salle and tied the Explorers, 1-1. Amanda Gulli had Seton Hall’s only goal at James Madison, on a penalty kick, while Delaney Suarez salvaged the draw on Thursday by scoring off an SHU corner kick with just 13 seconds left in regulation.
*Amazingly, Sunday’s match will mark just the third August match in the 25-year history of the Penn women’s soccer program.
*In fact, by calendar date Sunday’s match will be the earliest in program history -- in both 2007 and 2012 the Quakers opened the season on August 31. That 2007 game ended as a 1-0 win over Saint Louis, while the 2012 match was a 2-1 win over James Madison.
*Despite starting its season later than its opponents every year, Penn has won its opener each of the last four seasons and five of the last six years. Overall, the Quakers are 14-9-1 in openers.
*Penn’s forte in recent years has been its defense, and that figures to remain intact this season. That defense starts at the very back, where Kalijah Terilli has been the mainstay in goal for the last two years. She has been a third-team NSCAA All-Region pick each of the last two years, and was first-team All-Ivy in 2013.
*Terilli enters the season with 12 career shutouts, which is one shy of the program record held by Vanessa Scotto. Terilli’s career goals-against average is 0.78, second behind Sarah Banks (0.75 from 2010-12).
*The defense should once again be shored up by senior Caroline Dwyer. She was shut down after 11 matches last year due to injury, but as a sophomore she was Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year; first-team All-Ivy; first-team NSCAA All-Region; and third-team NSCAA All-America (just the second player in program history to earn NSCAA All-America recognition, after Katy Cross).
*Another anchor on the defense will likely be Paige Lombard. A transfer from the University of Miami (Fla.), she was expected to be in the lineup last year but suffered an injury just before preseason and missed the entire 2014 campaign.
*Junior Tahirih Nesmith was another defender who was shut down early last season due to injury, after just two matches. As a freshman in 2013, though, she received honorable mention All-Ivy recognition after finishing second on the team with nine points (4g, 1a) and serving on a defense that posted 12 shutouts and allowed just eight goals all season.
*In the midfield, expect to see senior Erin Mikolai running the show. She is a two-time All-Ivy honoree, including first-team honors as a sophomore, and was a third-team NSCAA All-Region selection after she led the Quakers in assists (6) last season.
*Penn will be looking to expand its offense this year, after scoring just 19 goals in 16 matches last season. A quick look at the lineup shows just five of those 19 goals returning from a year ago (Anna Estep 2, Lindsey Sawczuk 1, Kristen Miller 1, Olivia Blaber 1).
*Penn’s roster includes 10 newcomers, with nine freshmen -- Romie Boyd, Maddie Dawkins, Cameo Hazlewood, Tori Klevan, Victoria Metelkine, Cami Nwokedi, Sasha Stephens, Kiera Towell, and Allie Trzaska -- as well as Lauren Petite, a transfer from TCU who is listed as a sophomore.