It’s been a rough season for the Quakers, but they’ll certainly be entering their final home game of the year on a high note.
Penn soccer will celebrate Senior Night on Saturday when the team takes on Princeton in the 2015 Rhodes Field finale. The Red and Blue are coming off Tuesday’s thrilling double-overtime road win against West Virginia.
The Quakers found themselves behind the Mountaineers early, allowing two goals in the game’s first 30 minutes. But junior Alec Neumann got Penn back in the game by putting home his own rebound in the 38th minute. Sophomore Sam Wancowicz brought the Quakers level with a chip shot in the 60th minute.
“We gave up two goals pretty early, but I thought we were still playing pretty well when we gave up those goals,” sophomore midfielder Austin Kuhn said. “We definitely kept our heads up and played with a lot of confidence for the rest of the first half and second half.
Senior goalie Max Polkinhorne kept the Red and Blue alive with some key saves down the stretch and into the sudden-death overtime periods, and Wancowicz struck again with a header in the 106th minute for the golden goal that sealed Penn’s first win in its last six matches.
“It was a great team performance,” Wancowicz said. “Obviously going down 2-0 is rough, but winning 3-2 shows a lot of guts and effort, which is what we talk about a lot in the locker room and is good to see out on the field.”
The Tigers (8-5-2, 1-3-1 Ivy) are carrying some momentum into Saturday’s matchup as well, having shut out Drexel on Tuesday in a 4-0 win.
The Quakers (3-9-2, 1-3-1) will, of course, use the season’s final home game to honor the team’s seniors for their contributions over the last four years. But even though Penn is out of the Ivy title race, expect the focus to be on winning rather than ceremony for a Red and Blue squad that has made it very clear they do not intend to simply play out the string.
“What it comes down to is the culture and the habits of the program have to stay consistent,” Penn coach Rudy Fuller said before last week’s 2-1 loss to Brown. “You can’t just be at your best or try on 72-degree sunny days or when there’s something to play for.”
Both Penn and Princeton have struggled mightily in league play this season, and each team will be chasing its mere second league win against its hated rival on Saturday. With football and field hockey also hosting the Tigers this Homecoming weekend, the atmosphere around campus should be electric.
“They’re our rivals so we have to be ready for it,” Kuhn said. “It’s only my second Homecoming, but it should be a good crowd and be an exciting game to play in.”
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