If the Penn women’s soccer team wants to solidify its status as the team to beat this season, this is the weekend to do it.
After pulling off a final-second victory against Harvard last Friday, the Quakers have put themselves in good position to win the Ivy League championship. The winner of that match has gone on to win the league each of the last three years.
Friday, Penn faces Cornell — one of the weakest teams in the Ivy League — and it has a chance to make a strong statement to the rest of its opponents.
The Big Red have yet to win a game all season and rank last in the league in scoring, assists and goals allowed.
The Quakers not only need to beat Cornell, they need to pull out a decisive victory. Not a last-second victory. Not a close game.
While they controlled much of their match against Harvard, the last-minute goal was not what coach Darren Ambrose would have envisioned.
Following the game, Ambrose joked he was “furious from the sideline,” because he didn’t think junior back Brianna Rano would get to the corner for the corner kick in time. The Quakers struggled putting possessions together and creating scoring opportunities, relying on their defense to keep the Crimson at bay.
“We really want to prove to ourselves that it wasn’t a last-minute goal,” senior captain Erin Beck said. “We’re really looking for this weekend as a moment for our team to really click offensively.”
While the Quakers have almost won several close matches against strong teams, including California and Boise State, both times they fell in 1-0 decisions.
Furthermore, no one has showed clear dominance in the Ivy League yet.
All of the Ancient Eight matches last weekend were decided by one goal. With a goals per game average that is the lowest in the Ivy League — even slightly below that of Cornell — it is clear that Penn needs a strong offensive showing.
“I think a win on the road in the Ivy League makes a statement,” Ambrose said. “I don’t think it has to be a multi-goal victory.”
However, a multi-goal victory against Cornell would show that the Quakers have worked out the offensive kinks, especially the communication between their forwards and midfielders.
“We’ve been very unlucky in front of goal numerous times,” Ambrose said. “Teams are blocking goals on the line. They’ve got to keep going, there’s got to be some persistence and a little bit relentless.”
“All season long we’ve seen how dangerous we can be if we get the ball wide,” Beck said. “We haven’t done it a whole lot, but when we have we’ve had really positive results.”
The Quakers need to find consistency. The match against Cornell will be a time for the offense to find a rhythm and dominate against a weak opponent.
“I take a win,” Ambrose said. “We win by three? Even better.”
But it’s not always just about getting another notch in the win column — it’s about how you do it.
BRETTE TROST is a senior English major from New York, N.Y. She can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com.