womenssoccer

Senior Caroline Dwyer nearly gave the Quakers a dramatic win in overtime, but her shot was cleared by the Harvard defense - one of many missed opportunities for Penn in a frustrating 1-1 draw on Saturday.

Photo: Julio Sosa

It was a dark night at Rhodes Field on Saturday — and not just because the lights went out.

After grabbing the lead early in the second half and waiting through two game delays due to technical trouble, Penn women’s soccer came within 19 seconds of registering its first Ivy League win of the season. However, Dartmouth scored in the 90th minute to send the game to a scoreless overtime, and the Red and Blue had to accept their fifth draw of the season, including their third in Ivy play.

The Quakers (5-3-5, 0-1-3 Ivy) began the game with what has become their customary level of offensive pressure, racking up eight shots on goal before halftime. However, like several games that Penn has played in the past few weeks, the squad was unable to capitalize on any of its initial chances, despite dangerous moments in the Big Green goal area.

“It was good to see that we are continuing to get good shots off, and that’s something we have to keep working with,” freshman Allie Trzaska said. “You never know when a bounce will go your way or when someone will make that little extra effort to get on the end of a ball, so we just have to keep pressing to create those chances.”

Yet while the Quakers were unable to find the back of the net in the opening frame, Dartmouth (7-3-3, 0-2-2) struggled even more mightily at the other end of the field to manufacture scoring opportunities. Penn’s defense — which entered the match ranked 26th nationally in goals against average — continued to limit chances and junior goalkeeper Carrie Crook was forced to make only one save in the first half.

“There wasn’t as much energy in the first half as I would have liked, but I thought that we still did all of the little things that we needed to,” coach Nicole Van Dyke said.

“We know what we are capable of when we score and area able to jump on teams, so I just told everyone to go out and get that goal as early as we can.”

Penn’s offensive persistence would finally be rewarded in the second half, thanks to a spectacular strike by Olivia Blaber. In the 53rd minute, the junior received a pass 25 yards out from freshman Cami Nwokedi and fired a shot that buried itself in the top corner of the net for her first goal of the season.

While this put the Quakers on the board first, it also seemed to energize Dartmouth, who proceeded to take the offensive initiative for the first time in the game.

“Blaber did an amazing job tonight and scored a really nice goal for us,” Van Dyke said “After that, I think Dartmouth really came alive and started playing some nice soccer and made it much more challenging for us to keep the ball and control the game”

What also made it difficult to control the rhythm of the game for Penn was the fact that twice during the second half, the lighting system at Rhodes Field failed, forcing the teams to endure two 20-minute game delays while the technical issues were sorted out.

Each time the lights came back on, it was Dartmouth who seemed to control the tempo of the game.

And just when it seemed that Penn was about to hold on to claim its first Ivy win of the season, the Big Green finally broke through. With 19 seconds remaining on the clock, Dartmouth’s senior defender Jill Dayneka headed home a free kick, sending the game to overtime and leaving the Quakers’ defense stunned.

“After something like that happens, you kind of have to just regroup, get everyone’s spirits up and bring back that intensity that you had,” Trzaska said.

Penn did in fact respond well to the shock of extra time, and it was the Quakers who manufactured the most dangerous chance of the overtime period, but senior Caroline Dwyer’s shot was cleared off the line by a Dartmouth defender. Much like the rest of Penn’s night, the effort came close, but was not quite enough, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

With their third tie in Ivy play, the Quakers are now tied for fifth in the conferenceand will host Yale next weekend, a game that Penn will need to win to keep pace with rest of the Ancient Eight.

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