Another day, another draw.
On Saturday, mere hours after Penn football triumphed in front of a raucous home crowd, the women’s soccer team faced Princeton on Rhodes Field. The game, like so many for the Quakers this season, ended in a draw, as both teams failed to score through regulation and in the two overtime periods.
The match marked the conclusion of a tumultuous season for the Red and Blue, as Penn (6-4-6, 1-2-4 Ivy) set a program record for draws throughout the year. Despite strong showings in non-conference play, the Quakers could never seem to get over the hump against Ivy League opponents, only winning their matchup against Yale.
But Saturday was another reminder of the long-term potential the team brought into its Ancient Eight slate.
Having already clinched the Ivy League title and an NCAA tournament bid, Princeton (13-3-1) outshot Penn, 14-10, as the two teams fought tooth and nail to the finish.
Star senior goalkeeper Kalijah Terilli had an outstanding performance in the net in only her second start since returning from an injury. Her effort was part of a strong defensive showing by the Quakers, who shut down the Tigers’ 24th-ranked offense and leading Ivy scorer Tyler Lussi.
As it was in so many games this season, the real problem was on the other side of the pitch.
The Red and Blue, though constantly attacking, only recorded one real scoring chance, as freshman Sasha Stephens tracked down a ball drifting out of bounds and came across through the penalty box for a dangerous shot at goal.
Nevertheless, coach Nicole Van Dyke praised her players for their fight in the match and over the course of the season.
“We’re very organized, we’re hard to play against. We take it game by game. We did the same thing against No. 11 Clemson. We keep the ball,” Van Dyke said, “Today wasn’t one of the most fluid soccer games, but it was one of those games [where] you have to grind out and battle.”
The matchup against Princeton also marked the end of the careers of several seniors on the team. Caroline Dwyer, Shannon Hennessy and Erin Mikolai were honored before the game in front of a large crowd of friends, family and supporters.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Mikolai of her last match with Penn. “It’s great obviously because my whole career was a blast, and I had a really good family behind me. But it kind of sucks because soccer is over, and it’s not going to hit me until next week when I’m not out here playing and practicing with [the team].”
Van Dyke also reflected on the significant contributions of her seniors throughout what was her first season at the helm.
“I think our seniors have done a tremendous job this year. It’s a new coach — a new style — and they’ve laid a foundation and the group has really bought in,” Van Dyke said. “The seniors showed they want to win and that they were adaptable.
“You look at Caroline Dwyer moving up to play forward, and she embraced it. Shannon [Hennessy] has been so consistent in the back line. Mikolai had a great game tonight. The rest of the team sees that.”
Looking ahead to next year, the Quakers have reason for hope. Though she is a senior, Terilli is eligible to return for a full season. Stephens, who has twice been named Ivy League Rookie of the Week, will have yet another year to develop.
On top of that, the team conceded only 11 goals this season and outshot their opponents in all but three of its matches. For Penn to truly improve, however, it needs to turn those shots into goals.
Because next year, just like in 2015, draws are simply not going to cut it.
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