It was a familiar feeling for the Penn men’s soccer team as it left New Haven, Conn., on Saturday.
For the second straight season, the Quakers fell, 2-1, to Yale. They now find themselves at 2-11 on the year and 0-4 in Ivy League play. The Bulldogs (4-7-3, 1-2-1) picked up their first conference win of the year to move into fifth place in the Ivy League.
The squads played a back-and-forth first half in which neither side could find the back of the net. Penn got on the board first when Stephen Baker netted a penalty kick in the 66th minute.
However, as has been an issue all season for the Quakers, a quick equalizer for Yale tied the game less than four minutes later.
“If a goal is scored, you really have to be alert and sharp that next five to 10 minutes,” coach Rudy Fuller said.
When Yale’s Philip Piper picked up a red card in the 79th minute, it appeared that Penn would have an opportunity to pick up its first win since a 7-2 win over Rider last month.
But sometimes too much of an advantage can be a bad thing. Penn was caught on a counter-attack and junior Peter Jacobson put in a second Bulldogs goal with two minutes to play.
“In that situation, the only way a team is going to get opportunities is on the counter,” Fuller said. “We have got some youth on our backline and they are getting better each day, but we got caught on the counter and we were punished for it.”
The loss broke a streak for Baker, who scored the 19th goal of his career in the effort. Entering the contest, Penn had been 12-0 when he scored.
“It’s a team game, and I have been lucky enough to have some great teammates that set me up,” Baker said.
Rather than worrying about individual records and honors, the Quakers want to emphasize team play and finishing the season strong.
Penn has four more opportunities to improve its record, including three Ivy matches, beginning Saturday when Brown comes to town for homecoming.
“We’re excited to get back on the field,” Baker said.
Three of the remaining matches are also at Rhodes Field, although there has been little evidence of a home-field advantage — both of Penn’s win have come on the road.
Defense, an area of concern throughout the season, will remain the focus down the stretch. The Quakers are one of only four Division I teams yet to record a clean sheet.
And while the goal of an Ivy title is long gone, Penn knows its attitude will define what little remains of its season.
“The mindset is going to be the key,” Fuller said. “We can’t let past games affect our next game.”