The Penn women’s soccer team knew it needed a win or a tie against Princeton to be crowned Ivy League champions and secure an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
After 110 minutes of soccer — 90 minutes of regulation and two 10 minute overtime periods — the Quakers managed a 0-0 tie, sending Penn into a frenzied celebration.
But the result was in doubt up until the final play.
With just 20 seconds left in the first overtime, a Princeton attacker drew a foul near one of the corner flags. On the ensuing set piece, the ball came in high, and Penn goalkeeper Caroline Williams came off her line to catch it. But a Princeton attacker got her head on the ball first, directing it towards the goal mouth.
However, Penn junior Colleen Barry put herself between the ball and the net — preventing what likely would have been the deciding goal.
“I actually went for the cross and missed. And then Colleen [Barry] saved it straight off the body,” Williams said. “The tiniest person on our team … saved the Ivy League championship for us.”.
In fact, both teams had their chances to end the game in sudden death overtime.
In the first period, Princeton’s Jen Hoy, a sophomore striker from Sellersville, Pa., nearly ended the game after she received a pass in the air near the top of the 18-yard box, chested down past two Penn defenders and tried a shot with the outside of her right foot. That shot missed the right post by just inches.
Striker Ursula Lopez-Palm had Penn’s best chance of the overtime period when she came streaking onto a cross from the right flank. Her strike bounced off the post and Princeton goalkeeper Claire Pinciaro was able to pounce on it before any damage was done.
Throughout the first half, the Quakers were able to dictate play, with much of the action coming from their attacking third. In the second half, Princeton was the aggressor, clearly pushing for a goal.
As coach Darren Ambrose put it, “they had to win; we didn’t have to.” That said, the coach added, “We didn’t come here to sit back and defend.”
Ironically, Penn’s defense has been a key factor in its success all season. Fullbacks Kaitlin Campbell and Adrienne Lerner both played well, breaking up several promising scoring chances.
“Defending is a pride thing,” Campbell said. “We, the back four, knew that we could win this Ivy League [championship] for our team if we just didn’t let in a goal.”
That mentality paid dividends for the Red and Blue.
The last time the Quakers won the Ivy League championship was 2007, when the current seniors were freshman.
“Every one is special and it’s got its own story line” coach Ambrose said.
Later today, Penn will receive their seed for the NCAA tournament and learn which team will be its first opponent.Comments powered by Disqus
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