Penn women's soccer comes out on top in thriller
Quakers trump Drexel, 1-0, in double overtime
September 13, 2013, 8:29 pm·
With 108 minutes gone, Penn women’s soccer forward Kerry Scalora stood over the ball waiting to take her free kick. Just 20 yards from goal, this was the first clean look she had gotten all day.
“When the bubble was over the field, we practiced that same exact shot,” Scalora said. “I was trying to bend the ball and get it into the upper right 90 corner. So that’s what I wanted to do and I executed. It was awesome.”
Scalora, a senior, did her best Beckham impersonation and her goal kept the Quakers’ perfect start to the season intact as Penn defeated Drexel, 1-0, at Penn Park.
But the win was anything but pretty as the Quakers (3-0) scrapped and fought through two halves and nearly two overtimes before they could pull out a result.
“I think it showed a lot of character,” coach Darren Ambrose said. “This is a time when you show your character, this is a time when you show your strengths. They’re a physical team, and I think it showed a lot of character to find a way to win.
“It could have gone either way. We won pretty last week, we won ugly today. It’s a good sign for this team.”
The pace of play and intensity were in stark contrast to last week’s pair of 4-0 wins. With a harried first half and a wide-open second half, the Quakers found in the Dragons (3-3-1) a good barometer of how they must sometimes play if they hope to win an Ivy title.
“This game was really important because we weren’t really tested in the back last weekend,” senior midfield Claire Walker said. “We knew that Drexel was going to be more organized and have a real counter-attack. We still had a bunch of girls rotating in the back line and there was not let down.”
Ambrose started a similar squad as last week and continued to rotate the squad throughout the contest. Sophomore Kalijah Terilli started in goal for the Quakers and was aggressive in the first half. Still, Terilli was rarely tested as the Dragons were content to shot from outside the box.
The Quakers had a handful of good chances in the first 45 minutes, but their first real opportunity came as freshman Lindsey Swaczuk played senior Brianna Rano into the corner. Rano took one step over and played in a dangerous cross, which bounced around in the box but was cleared right back to her before she misifired over the goal.
Penn’s defense held constant throughout regulation and was led by Walker, who shook off a scary knock when she collided with Drexel’s Lauren Stollar and Terilli at the top of the box.
“The first half was all over the place, we just weren’t playing like we usually do,” Walker said. “Good first touches in and out of the middle, out of the back our services weren’t as good as last weekend. [Afterwards] we were really looking to calm down keep the ball and move it.”
As the game progressed, chances for both teams became more apparent. In the 70th minute, junior forward Megan York ran on to a flicked head, and with a smart pass found Rano at the corner of the 18-yard box. Rano got off a quick shot with her left foot that forced a diving save from Drexel’s keeper.
Penn, which utilized its outside forwards to great success over the course of the game, enjoyed three free kicks with just minutes remaining in the second half but was unable to convert. Drexel came right back down and tried to play through the middle, nearly scoring in the initial moments of overtime.
“The commitment to defense was excellent,” Ambrose said. “They got a quality about them that’s special.”
But even with all that defense, Penn still needed a way to break through. And with just under two minutes remaining in the second overtime, Scalora made no mistake and buried the free kick.