One year after Harvard kept them out of the NCAA tournament, the Penn women’s soccer team finally has a chance at revenge.
The Quakers (3-3) open Ivy League play Friday when they host reigning Ivy champion Harvard (3-2-1).
Penn missed out on an automatic NCAA bid last season by finishing a game behind the Crimson. Harvard was the only Ivy team to beat Penn, 2-0.
“We had an amazing season [last year] and we had a lot of records,” senior Erin Beck said. “But at the end of the day, you don’t have that Ivy title and it stings a little … We know who we’re playing, and I’m sure they know we’re thinking the same thing, so it will be a great game.”
Though the Red and Blue are looking to avenge last season’s loss, there are significant changes on both sides of the ball.
The Quakers graduated seven seniors while Harvard lost Ivy Player of the Year Melanie Baskind, who had both Crimson goals against Penn a season ago.
“Last year’s a different team, totally different group of girls,” coach Darren Ambrose said. “There’s no relevance from this year to last.”
Even though the faces have changed, Beck believes the rivalry remains the same.
“It will definitely be new teams playing each other, but with a lot of the same animosity,” she said.
Both teams, expected to be conference title contenders again, have had up-and-down starts to the season. Penn has dropped three of its last four games, while Harvard is coming off an 8-1 loss, albeit to No. 4 Boston College.
But one thing is clearly in Penn’s favor Friday night — this time, the game is being played at Rhodes Field.
The home team has won the last four meetings between the teams.
“We’re at home, and that’s big for us,” senior Sarah Banks said.
Beck said the trip between Philadelphia and Boston, especially in the middle of the semester, can be “exhausting.”
After what will surely be an emotional, hard-fought game, the Red and Blue have Saturday off before taking on Boise State (4-5-1) on Sunday.
“Sunday games are hard always because you’re coming off that really intense game where you’re emotionally hyped up and you tend to have that emotional hangover,” Banks said. “But our team is really good at moving on.”
The Quakers expect to be as well prepared for Sunday ‘s game as they are for the Harvard match.
“Boise State will be a challenge in that it’s a Sunday game,” Banks said. “But we’ll come out and win. We’ll be ready.”