Modi | Yes, Penn women's soccer can still win the Ivy
October 16, 2013, 8:05 pm · Updated October 16, 2013, 11:46 pm·
Joshua Ng | DP
After Penn’s loss at Harvard three weeks ago, its Ivy hopes seemed to be shattered.
But today, the Quakers are still in the running.
Coming up on the third week of Ivy play, Penn currently sits in third place behind Harvard and Brown. Last year’s winner, Princeton, stands at the foot of the table. The Crimson and the Bears were both in the middle of the pack last year.
When it comes to Ancient Eight soccer, it is both a blessing and a curse to be sitting in third, but there are two reasons why Penn still has a chance:
Parity and longevity.
“I think it is unique in that there is no tournament in that regard,” coach Darren Ambrose said at the beginning of the campaign. “All it takes is a bad bounce and a bad call, and it can change someone who was a favorite to win it and suddenly they finish mid-table.”
While the Quakers definitely have a shot at winning the title, it won’t be easy and they’ll definitely need help. The last two years have seen two teams who went unbeaten in league play “claim the crown.” That means that the Crimson and the Bears will need to fall in order for the Quakers to have a chance this year.
Coincidentally, the result of this weekend’s match between Harvard and Brown will most likely have the greatest impact on the title race.
But all the Quakers can do is take care of themselves.
“I think we go into it with the same approach: we don’t set ourselves up for failure … we try and forge a path each week,” Ambrose said.
And, to a large extent, they have.
Winning their last five games ensures the Red and Blue will carry sufficient momentum into their home tilt with Dartmouth over the weekend.
During that run, Penn’s four shutouts erased the memories of its only loss against Harvard and fueled speculation that this is one of the best defensive teams in Ambrose’s tenure, a high compliment considering the consistent stinginess that his squads have played with over the years.
You can credit sophomore goalkeeper Kalijah Terilli, who has stepped into the role as netminder and made her presence felt, or senior center back Claire Walker, who has helped a young backline gel.
But if you know anything about Penn’s defensive success, you realize it’s a product of its effort all over the field to win balls and mark opponents intelligently.
If it is a wholehearted defensive effort that will keep them in games, then it is their opportunistic play that will help them finish.
And opportunistic Penn has been. While the defense has shut out opponents on eight separate occasions, the offense has pulled out five 1-0 victories, twice waiting until overtime before finally converting.
So yes, they sit in third. Yes, they need some help. But in a league that is constantly changing, can they realistically win the Ivy League?
I say yes.
SUSHAAN MODI is a senior international studies and business major from Demarest, N.J., and is a former sports editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.