Women's soccer's shutout streak rolls to Brown
Record-setting Penn defense travels to play Bears this weekend, hopes for Harvard loss
October 27, 2011, 10:45 pm·
Rhino Wang | DP
In 9 hours, 35 minutes and 42 seconds you could take a flight from Philadelphia to Moscow, or you could watch the entire theatrical version of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
But you still wouldn’t see Penn women’s soccer concede a goal.
The past few weeks have highlighted the balanced scoring attack, but when the Quakers head to Brown (10-4-1, 3-2-0 Ivy) this weekend, they will look to continue their total team effort on defense that has helped Penn limit its opponents to six goals in 15 games this year.
“Our coaches tell us when you stick to your solid defensive principles, things will work out,” said senior center back Adrienne Lerner, mentioning hard tackling, keeping players to the outside and winning headers. “They are simple defensive principles. Making sure you carry them out has helped us to success.”
The Quakers (13-2-0, 4-1-0) are sporting a team-record eight-game winning streak and can set a program mark for single-season wins if they can capture six points in their next two games. Even with the surge, however, they remain one game behind league-leading Harvard.
Led by an airtight defense, Penn has prevented opponents from finding the net for the entire month of October, to date.
Penn has thrived on its ability to recover lost possessions. From hunting down a bad pass to quick organization on a turnover, the work rate has allowed the Quakers to tire opponents and has also helped translate to more goals.
“Wherever we lose the ball or wherever the team gains possession, it’s always about can we win the ball back and then filter in behind,” coach Darren Ambrose said. “We’ve always said, ‘The harder you defend the easier the game becomes for you,’ and the team really believes it.”
Although tested, the Quakers haven’t broken and have really tried to stick to their mantra of team defending.
“[We try] coming out knowing what our plan is and sticking to it and adjusting when we need to,” said senior outside defender Colleen Barry, whose gritty attitude has provided a steady force since the start of the season.
Despite tremendous success, Penn may not have enough time to capture a postseason berth. A 2-0 loss at Harvard in their first Ivy League game means that the Quakers won’t be able to secure the automatic bid to NCAA tournament unless Harvard drops one of its final two games against Dartmouth or Columbia, and Penn wins out.
However Penn’s strong performance and unbeaten run have them ranked No. 65 in RPI. It would not be unthinkable to see the Quakers sneak into the tournament with an at-large bid if they win out and a few teams drop down. The last time the Ivy league had two entrants into the NCAA Tournament was in 2008, when Princeton won the Ivy title and Harvard finished the season 9-6-1, yet still made the field.
Nevertheless, the team is keeping things in perspective and staying loose through the long grind of the season.
“When Saturday comes we’ll be ready,” Lerner said. “Getting a result on the road is a really big deal.”
But even as clock keeps ticking, Penn isn’t giving up any goals.