PHILADELPHIA - At the end of the 2006 Penn women’s soccer season, head coach Darren Ambrose said he could not wait to get to the 2007 season.
After spring practices, he feels even more strongly that great things could happen this fall.
“After seeing us play this spring, especially in our matches, I got really excited for the fall,” he said. “I think the women finished the season with a genuine feeling that they could contend for the Ivy title.
“There was a step forward in terms of maturity -- the women are beginning to realize that their work ethic and commitment is not just an August-to-November thing, it is all year. They are understanding that they need to be committed to winning at all times. Practices were very competitive this spring.”
The Quakers played a pair of matches this spring, traveling to Penn State and losing to the perennial national power Nittany Lions, 2-0, before hosting Rutgers and defeating the Scarlet Knights, 1-0. Last season, Penn State finished the season ranked seventh nationally, while Rutgers was ranked 13th; they also went first and second, respectively, in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
“I wanted us to play 90-minute matches against the top two teams in our region, to see where we stood,” said Ambrose. “I think our players gained a lot of confidence from those games.”
Of course, the matches with Penn State and Rutgers were only a minor part of what the spring was about.
“We needed to settle on a system that we think will be the best fit for our team and our players,” said Ambrose. “We wanted to use the spring to try a few different things and get ourselves ready for the fall. We moved a few people around to see how they would fit in different places, and I think we gave the women a good idea of what we are going to do this fall.
“In addition, we developed a sense in them that they are a good team,” he continued. “I think the chemistry within the group moved forward during the spring.”
Ambrose also announced his captains for the 2007 season with the conclusion of spring practices. They will be juniors Natalie Capuano (a second-year captain), Eileen Larkin, and Nicki White.