msoccer

Junior midfielder Matt Poplawski saw his shot in the 86th minute sail high, thus continuing Penn's scoring woes in 2015.

Photo: Thomas Munson

The streak goes on.

After opening its season with a draw and two losses, Penn men’s soccer looked to get on track in a midweek matchup with crosstown foe Drexel on Tuesday night. However, despite stout play from their backline and backup goalkeeper, the Quakers fell victim to a Dragons’ goal in the 63rd minute and couldn’t respond over the final third of the match in a 1-0 defeat.

Since an impressive draw against then-No. 7 Washington on Sept. 4, Penn (0-3-1) has dropped three consecutive matches by a combined 8-1 score. Four straight contests without a win to begin the campaign is the Quakers’ worst start to a season since 2012, when the Red and Blue went winless in their first seven matches.

The two squads began their matchup with a balanced first half, one that saw neither team assert itself on the offensive end. However, despite Penn’s prowess on defense, the Dragons (1-5) managed to maintain more possession in the second frame, eventually netting the winner on a back-post header from sophomore Colin McGlynn.

“Unfortunately, no one is pleased by losing to Drexel,” coach Rudy Fuller said. “But it was a case of two teams really needing a win.”

While the Quakers only managed six shots throughout the entire game — with just two of those shots on goal — Fuller saw a level of comfort in his team that hadn’t been apparent in each of its two previous matches, losses to American and Florida International.

“I think the team was far more comfortable tonight,” he said. “I think we were far more sound defensively, and we generated a number of good chances. So all in all, [it was] a step in the right direction.”

While the Red and Blue had a difficult time applying pressure in Drexel’s attacking third, the play of backup goalkeeper Etan Mabourakh, who was filling in for senior Max Polkinhorne after the latter suffered an injury against FIU, was particularly noteworthy. The Plantation, Fla., native made three saves and allowed only one score, despite the Dragons tallying 13 shots.

“He came in untested against FIU because Max went out injured,” Fuller said. “And if we’re being honest, it was a shaky performance against FIU. I think he would say the same thing. But I think tonight, he was much more sure of himself. He had a great command of his box and I think he organized well.”

Although the numbers may not show it, the Quakers seemed to have been more fluid offensively than in their previous two losses. Junior midfielder Matt Poplawski had three of Penn’s six shots, including one in the 86th minute from 25 yards out that nearly knotted the score, but went high.

“I think we generated more chances tonight than probably the first three games combined, so that’s a positive,” Fuller said. “On the negative side, we didn’t capitalize on any of those chances and I think that is probably a case of guys being a little tight, because we haven’t been putting the ball in the back of the net.”

The Quakers will next be in action seeking their first win on Sunday when they host 23rd-ranked Big 5 rival Temple at Rhodes Field.

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