Ziebelman | Plenty of questions surrounding Penn men's soccer's decision-making at Columbia
October 15, 2013, 8:11 pm · Updated October 15, 2013, 8:41 pm·
Meredith Stern | DP
A 0-0 tie in double overtime against Columbia. The Penn men’s soccer team has a chance to win the game with a penalty kick and the man that steps up to take it has recorded only one assist in four years.
Senior midfielder Austin Kinn misses the kick and the Red and Blue leave the game with a disappointing scoreless tie.
Why did Kinn take the shot?
“Cause he ran up to the ball quicker than anybody else,” coach Rudy Fuller said.
Is that the reasoning you want in a critical situation?
With no second chances in a tied overtime game, you want the guy taking the kick to be one who has produced before and someone you know you can count on. Not a wild card.
And a wild card is exactly what Kinn was.
Before this season, Kinn had played in 30 matches and never recorded a point. This season, he has played in every game and recorded the first point of his college career on an assist against Stony Brook in the Quakers’ opening game.
Yes — he is a senior with plenty of game experience, but almost no production.
Why did they put their faith in someone who has never really come through?
“In that situation it’s my belief that we can’t pick guys from the sideline,” Fuller said. “We don’t know what they’re feeling like, what their legs are feeling like, what their confidence is like.
“So with our group typically we are looking for who wants the shot. That means a lot. It means they’re confident, they are feeling fresh and as soon as the whistle blew and the ref pointed at the spot Austin ran up and grabbed the ball and we were like, ‘Great.’
“Didn’t even think twice about it.”
While enthusiasm is applauded, should it really be the only factor in an overtime Ivy League game?
We aren’t in a youth league.
There is no shortage of talent or experience on that field and when it’s crunch time, you turn to your solid guys.
Someone like captains junior forward Duke Lacroix or senior forward Stephen Baker. Lacroix is currently tied for scoring the most goals this season and has started in every game played in his Penn career.
With 14 goals and seven assists in 44 games, he is the guy you turn to.
If Baker’s your pick, then you have someone with three full seasons under his belt and 21 goals to show from them.
These two have been Penn’s critical players for their entire collegiate careers. These are the guys you turn to three minutes into the second overtime with a chance to take the game.
The Quakers have been plagued with late goals resulting in losses and finally changed their luck in their Ivy opener against Cornell. They had a chance to continue the trend this past weekend and blew it.
Last Saturday, Penn played in the Lions’ den. This was the third game this year that went into overtime. None of them have resulted in a win for the Red and Blue.
Is this an improvement on last year’s season? Without a doubt.
Does that justify giving up a critical opportunity for a second Ivy win? No.
“It would’ve been nice to get the three points,” Kinn said after the tie. “But we’re satisfied with one.”
With Ivy competition so strong, every team is in contention to take
the title. The extra two points the Quakers could have gotten had they won the game might come back to be the difference between their first Ivy title since 2008 and just another season.
A tough out-of-conference schedule and some key freshmen seemed to have changed the men’s soccer team’s luck, but poor judgment seems to be impeding its success.
Alexis Ziebelman is a College sophomore from New York and is an associate sports editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.