PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania women’s soccer team is unblemished through three matches, the third time in five years that has happened. The Quakers face a tall task in keeping that record intact this weekend, though, as they make the program’s first trip to South Carolina for a pair of matches including a Friday night showdown against the No. 11 team in the country, Clemson. That match kicks off at 7 p.m. On Sunday, Penn faces USC Upstate at noon.
The Series with Clemson
The Quakers and the Tigers are meeting for the first time in women’s soccer.
Playing out of the formidable ACC, the Tigers (5-0-0) are ranked 11th nationally this week. Among its wins this season, Clemson has beaten current No. 17 South Carolina and also Georgia. Ten different women have already scored this season for the Tigers, led by Salma Anastasio and Alana Hockenhull who have two goals each. At the other end, Kailen Sheridan was named ACC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday for her efforts in the win over Georgia (11 saves).
The Series with USC Upstate
The Quakers and the Spartans are meeting for the first time in women’s soccer.
About USC Upstate
The Spartans (1-4-1) -- who are at Presbyterian on Friday -- enter the weekend having lost three in a row, most recently a 2-1 decision to Radford. USC Upstate’s win came against The Citadel (5-0), while the tie came against Alabama State (3-3).
*This is the fifth time in the 25-year history of the program that Penn has started a campaign 3-0-0. The others were 1998, 2001, 2011, and 2013. (Both the ’98 and ’11 teams went on to go 5-0-0 before a blemish, while the ’13 squad went 4-0-0 before a blemish.)
*Those fast starts were harbingers of solid seasons. The 1998 team finished 11-5-1; the 2001 squad went 13-2-3; the 2011 team went 14-2-1; and the 2013 club went 12-1-4. The 2001 team tied for program’s first Ivy League title, while the 2011 and 2013 teams finished second in the Ancient Eight standings.
*Penn returned just four players who scored last season. None of them have scored yet this season, but seven OTHER players HAVE already scored.
*Of the seven players who have scored, it was the first tally at Penn for six of them. The only one whose goal wasn’t her first was senior Erin Mikolai, who scored last Sunday against Mount St. Mary’s.
*The caveat here is senior defender Paige Lombard; her goal against The Mount was her first at Penn, but her third as a collegian -- she also scored twice at the University of Miami.
*Sophomore Farah Otero-Amad had a goal and an assist in Sunday’s win, her first collegiate points.
*Sophomore Natasha Davenport and freshman Allie Trzaska -- who made her first collegiate start -- had the goals in last Friday’s 2-1 win against previously unbeaten Temple.
*Penn opened its 2015 season -- and the Nicole Van Dyke coaching era -- with a 3-1 win over Seton Hall on August 30. It marked the fifth-straight year the Quakers have won their opener, and the sixth time in seven years.
*Freshman Sasha Stephens scored twice in her collegiate debut, notching Penn’s second and third goals last Sunday. On Monday, she was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week.
*Sophomore transfer Lauren Petite also scored in her collegiate debut; she was on TCU’s roster last year but did not see any match action. Petite’s goal came less than four minutes into the contest.
*By calendar date, this year’s season opener was 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.
*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 -- who shared last Sunday’s shutout with junior Carrie Crook -- owns 12 career solo 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).
*Lombard is expected to be another anchor on defense. 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.
*In the midfield, expect to see the captain, 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.
*Junior Tahirih Nesmith 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.
*Penn’s roster includes 10 newcomers, with nine freshmen -- Stephens, Trzaska, Romie Boyd, Maddie Dawkins, Cameo Hazlewood, Tori Klevan, Victoria Metelkine, Cami Nwokedi, and Kiera Towell -- as well as Petite. (You can make it 11, if you include Lombard who is seeing her first match action this season.)