This weekend, when the women’s soccer team takes on Brown for its final road game of the season, a true clash of styles will ensue — the highest-scoring Ivy team versus the League’s leading defense.
The Quakers (8-4, 2-3 Ivy) bring to the game an offensive mantra as the top scoring team in the Ivy League averaging 2.36 goals per game and outshooting opponents 190-170 this season. The defensive-oriented Bears (5-1-7, 2-3) lead the League in the opposite category, as goalkeeper Brenna Hogue averages the most saves in the conference.
Penn hopes its offense will be enough to overpower the stifling Brown defense when they face off at 3 p.m. Saturday in Providence, R.I.
“We are a pretty good offensive team so it is an interesting match,” Penn coach Darren Ambrose said. “We’ve scored a lot of goals this year. We have given up a few goals also. It should be a good matchup for us though.”
The Quakers have been preparing strategies to capitalize on the strengths and weaknesses of Brown’s team.
“We just need to keep possession of the ball, really make them chase us, and try to spread them out a little bit,” Ambrose said. “If we can do that, it should open up some channels for us to play through.”
The Quakers are coming off an emotional one-goal loss to Yale, in which the team was assessed four yellow cards including an ejection for senior Jessica Fuccello. The loss dropped them into a tie with Brown for sixth place in the Ancient Eight and eliminated them from title contention.
The squad hopes to use the bitter memories of that frustrating defeat to propel it to a victory this weekend.
“It is a shame that the outcome was as it was. We deserved better than [what happened] in the second half,” Ambrose said. “I expect our kids to be emotional. I expect them to come out and fight, play, and compete.”
And to raise the stakes even higher, the Quakers and Bears enter the game with identical Ivy records. While they may just be tied for sixth, a loss for either squad would eliminate all hopes for a winning record in League play.
“We want to win the game,” Ambrose said. “That is the goal of every game and every season. I expect our kids to perform and come out there to beat Brown.”
If history is any indication, the game should come down to the waning moments. After a 2-2 tie in 2006, the last two matches have been 1-0 overtime contests, and the 2007 match took two extra periods to determine a winner.
If the game once again comes down to the final moments, the already-high intensity will be augmented by the presence of two of the Ivy League’s most clutch goal-scorers. Fuccello leads the conference with five game-winning goals, while Brown’s Joyce Chun is close behind, tied for second with three.
Coaches on the Brown side are preparing in anticipation of another nail-biter.
“I think it will be an exciting Ivy battle as it has been the last several years,” Brown coach Phil Pincince said. “It should be a hard fight and an exciting game.”
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