If you're going to come at the queens, you best not miss.
Unfortunately for Penn women's soccer, the squad allowed too many opportunities to its opponent on Saturday, conceding 25 shots en route to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of two-time defending Ivy League champion Harvard.
The Quakers (4-2-2, 0-1-0 Ivy) had high hopes for their first Ancient Eight contest of the season. After last year's disappointing Ivy campaign, one that included a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of the Crimson at Rhodes Field, Penn looked at Saturday's contest as an opportunity to continue the momentum from a strong non-conference season.
But things up in Cambridge, Mass., didn't go quite as planned.
Without senior goalkeeper Kalijah Terilli for the fourth consecutive game, Penn was forced to rely upon junior Carrie Crook between the pipes. The latter did well in making nine saves, but Harvard's attack was relentless, outshooting the Quakers, 25-5.
Despite the constant pressure from the Crimson (3-6-1, 1-0-0), Penn's backline held on for the majority of the first half, even though the squad managed only one shot to Harvard's 11. But only 27 seconds before intermission, Brooke Dickens scored off a rebound, sending a ball into the upper half of the net to put the Crimson in front.
"We might have lost focus on two set pieces and couldn't get the ball cleared, but outside of that, we played them pretty evenly," coach Nicole Van Dyke said after the game. "It might not show up on the shot count, but overall we did a good job.
"We didn't get the result, but there are plenty of soccer games left to be played."
Shortly after halftime, Harvard made the Quakers pay once again, as Joan Fleischman scored off a cross from Haley Washburn to double the lead in the 59th minute.
While Penn couldn't find the back of the net on its end, it did manage to hold Crimson junior Margaret Purce scoreless. The 2013 Ivy League Player of the Year and 2014 first team All-Ivy selection notched seven shots, but could not repeat her two-goal performance from the teams' matchup last year.
Although the Quakers dropped their conference opener for the third straight season, Van Dyke doesn't think there will be much of a hangover for the squad as it prepares for the remainder of its season.
"I think, all in all, it's a good trip for us. Going into it, we knew we were playing against a tough opponent. They have experience playing at the NCAA Tournament level, and we tried to focus on having a good performance.
"I think one thing we've tried to do this season is not put an emphasis on a particular school or game. And what we told the team after the game [on Saturday] is that this cannot define who we are. The journey is not a straight line, there are going to be hiccups, but hopefully we learn from it and can get back to our winning ways."
The Red and Blue are next in action against Cornell on Friday at Rhodes Field.
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