This weekend saw one streak end and another begin for the Penn women’s soccer team. Unfortunately, neither trend bodes well for the Quakers as they prepare for their upcoming California road trip.
A year after the Red and Blue registered 13 shutouts, Penn found itself on the other end of the goose egg, losing, 2-0, against Marist on Friday and falling, 1-0, at Drexel on Sunday.
The Marist loss snapped Penn’s 15-game home winning streak at Rhodes Field, and the two straight shutouts have left the Quakers (2-2) with as many losses as they suffered all of last season.
“We’re just struggling to find our rhythm, that’s all,” coach Darren Ambrose said. “We’ve got some young players. But we’re just not connecting on passes. We can’t find our rhythm, we have kids right now who technically are not getting it done. It’s been that way since the season started and we haven’t fixed it.”
Penn played from behind for most of the way against Marist (5-2), allowing a goal from Jackie Frey less than 10 minutes in.
In addition, the Quakers failed to convert several golden scoring opportunities. A shot from sophomore forward Clara Midgley clanged off the left post late in the first half and freshman midfielder Erin Mikolai very nearly pushed a redirected ball past Marist goalkeeper Andrea Wicks early in the next stanza.
The Quakers took nine more corner kicks than the Red Foxes but never cashed in.
“I thought we should have won that game,” Ambrose said. “We had two headers that we missed from three yards out, we had the keeper to beat and we kicked it wide. No one’s overrunning us. No one’s better than us in the sense of playing the game, they’re just taking advantage of us.”
The first half of the Drexel match saw both teams go back and forth without sustaining much offensive momentum.
Drexel (5-1-1) finally struck paydirt with 16 minutes left in the second half when Jess Lowinger took control of a headed ball at close range and got a shot past Penn goalkeeper Sarah Banks.
A corner kick by Brianna Rano two minutes later landed in the arms of Drexel goalkeeper Eve Badana, and the Quakers struggled to force the issue offensively for the rest of the match.
“At the moment we just don’t have the commitment to make the runs in the box,” Ambrose said. “Two teams have now run through us. Kids have been bigger and stronger and they’re running through us.
“They’re a little bit young up there and they’re getting pushed around. That’s part of the problem.”
One bright spot for the Quakers has been their stinginess on defense, but it hasn’t been enough to offset the anemic offense.
“Most of the shots are coming in 20 to 25 yards out,” Ambrose said. “It’s not like they’re free kicks, no one’s getting much on us.”
But Penn’s chances for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament after missing out last year won’t stop dimming until Ambrose finds someone to step up and attack.
“If you don’t score goals, you don’t win the game,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s why we’re 2-2.”
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