With two years of experience under her belt, Brianna Rano is rising to the occasion.
The junior defender currently ranks second on the Penn women’s soccer team in shots with a total of 19 and is tied for first with three assists.
“She is a very industrious workman-type player, and that’s in the highest complimentary ways,” coach Darren Ambrose said. “She shows up every day, she gives the same thing every day. She brings consistency and gives nothing less than everything every practice, and it’s paid off for her. She’s grown leaps and bounds in this program.”
Rano started just one game her freshman year before starting all of her matches as a sophomore. After scoring just one goal in her first two seasons, she knew she had to build on her experience — and it paid off.
“My coaches told me they need a little bit more from me, just because I’ve had a lot of different experiences from my freshman year to my junior year,” Rano said. “It definitely took a lot of work to get to where I am right now, and my coaches realize that.”
Rano has answered her coaches’ call. She may not be the loudest player on the team, but she always knows when to step up and take charge.
And as one of the more experienced upperclassmen, Rano has the potential to help out Penn’s younger players.
“It’s my responsibility as a junior to share my experiences with the freshmen and sophomores and basically tell them how it works,” she said.
One reason Rano has more confidence this year has been a switch to defense which occurred last season because of a teammate’s injury. For Rano, the move was a homecoming.
“I was recruited as a defender,” she said. “That was my position my entire life. When I came, my coach put me at forward, midfield, basically anywhere but defense. So once I was moved to defense I was the happiest girl ever because it has been my home for my entire soccer career.”
Going back to defense contributed to Rano’s improvement, as she could build chemistry with her teammates, especially junior Kathryn Barth.
“When I see her up there and I give her the ball, she is going to do something good with it,” Rano said. “I know I can trust her and give it to her every single time I see her on the field.”
Friday, Rano will be a key factor as the Red and Blue (6-4, 2-0 Ivy) play Columbia (5-5, 2-0 Ivy) at Rhodes Field. Both teams come into the game undefeated in the Ivy League and with a thirst for victory.
“It’s definitely going to be a battle,” Rano said.
For Ambrose, though, the records don’t mean anything.
“The games are fiercely contested,” he said. “Going into it, [our record] doesn’t mean that we’re a favorite or they’re a favorite.”
For the last two years, this matchup has resulted in a victory for the away team. With the game at the friendly confines of Rhodes Field this season, the Quakers are looking forward to breaking that trend.
Though the game is important, it is not the defining match of the season.
“The league isn’t won on Friday,” Ambrose said. “The league is won in November.”