Penn men's soccer beat Big Green to grab share of Ivy lead
Lacroix notches two goals, including one on a penalty kick in win
October 19, 2013, 11:50 pm·
Patrick Hulce | DP
Saturday started off as an inauspiciously rainy evening at Rhodes Field, but as the rain subsided, the prospects of Penn men’s soccer cleared along with the weather.
The Quakers maintained their undefeated Ivy League record with a 3-0 victory over Dartmouth (4-3-4, 0-3 Ivy).
The game started off sloppy for the Quakers (5-6-1, 2-0-1). Despite its intentions to focus on maintaining possession, Penn was unable to hold onto the ball for much of the game’s opening.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” coach Rudy Fuller said. “But Dartmouth is a good team. Their backs were against the wall. They made it difficult for us.”
That all changed in the 15th minute, when junior forward Duke Lacroix made a dynamic run out of the midfield and sent a perfectly timed ball to freshman forward Alec Neumann. Neumann slid the ball past Dartmouth’s goalie for his first goal since Sept. 8.
“It’s only a matter of time with any one of the four [forwards],” Fuller said. “They’re gonna get goals.”
As the half went on, the Quakers settled down and possessed the ball more frequently. Meanwhile, an increasingly frustrated Big Green squad made several mental mistakes that allowed Penn to move away from its counter-oriented start.
Throughout the choppy first half, Penn relied heavily on the intense and physical play of its midfield — most notably junior Louis Schott, who always seemed to be around the ball.
“We were trying to work hard in the midfield, win our battles and get the ball up to the guys up top,” Schott said. “If we can win our matchups, we’ll win the game.”
Penn senior goalie Tyler Kinn, who started ahead of sophomore Max Polkinhorne for the second straight game, showed sure hands throughout the first half, making key saves near the end of the half to maintain Penn’s lead.
“We’ve got two good goalkeepers,” Fuller said. “A week and a half ago, Max picked up a little knock. We’re gonna ride the hot hand.”
At the beginning of the second half, the game opened up dramatically. Tired legs on Penn’s defense allowed for members of the Big Green, like junior forward Stefan Defregger, to attack the Penn goal more efficiently.
The Quakers, however, held on thanks to their consistently solid defensive positioning and communication, and Penn balanced the game’s momentum with aggressive play from junior midfielder Kamar Saint-Louis and sophomore midfielder Forrest Clancy.
Despite the Big Green’s continued offensive advances, the pair of Neumann and Lacroix capitalized on the counter-attack once again in the 65th minute, as Lacroix tapped the ball in after an aggressive move by his forward partner.
The chemistry between the two was evident throughout the match, as the pair created two more scoring chances in the minutes following Penn’s second goal.
“Our styles of play really complement each other,” Lacroix said. “We just got it going tonight.”
The Quakers tacked on a third goal in the 78th minute on a Lacroix penalty kick after senior Nicky Yin was fouled in the box. The score was icing on the cake as Penn cruised for the rest of the game en route to a 3-0 victory.
Although Lacroix stood out as the star of the game with two goals and an assist, Penn’s continued Ivy success was the result of total team progress.
“We took our lumps earlier in the season against some very good competition,” Fuller said. “But we are a better team for it.”
The Quakers will look to continue their Ancient Eight success next Saturday at home against Yale.