It was a trial by fire for Penn women’s soccer this weekend, as they fell victim to a powerful Maryland side led by a familiar face under the sweltering heat at Rhodes Field.
Former Harvard head coach Ray Leone led the Terrapins into University City as they overpowered the Quakers on Sunday afternoon 3-1.
Maryland (2-1-1) struck first when a costly error by senior goalkeeper Carrie Crook allowed the first goal of the game in the sixth minute. The Terps continued to bring the pressure before sophomore Cassie Phillips gave Maryland a 2-0 lead after just 12 minutes.
“Obviously the first 10 minutes of the game is something we have to be better at,” head coach Nicole Van Dyke said. “We’ll have to get sharper as the season rolls on.”
Heading into halftime down 2-0, the Red and Blue (0-1-0) knew they would have to dig deep if they wanted to come away with the victory.
“We went into halftime saying 2-0 was the most dangerous score line,” freshman midfielder Emily Sands said. “Just one goal puts the pressure back on the other team.”
The Quakers came out with a purpose in the second half. By putting pressure on the defense and spreading the ball around the field, a breakthrough felt imminent. With the younger players looking to the upperclassmen for leadership, senior forward Olivia Blaber put Penn within striking distance after hammering home a rebounded shot in the 70th minute of the game.
“We were really pounding them inside,” Blaber said. “Everyone could feel it was coming and I was just in the right place and was able to put it away.”
Unfortunately for the Quakers, the one goal difference wouldn’t last long as Maryland immediately struck back — just one minute later — to ensure the final scoreline of 3-1. Despite the unfavorable score, Van Dyke sees a lot to be proud of heading forward.
“We held them to just one shot in the second half,” Van Dyke said. “After they scored [their second goal] we were by far the better team, but they were just sharper than us.”
Penn’s second half approach to be more aggressive on offense paid dividends by allowing for many chances, but each time Maryland was able to beat back the opportunities for goals. After being outshot, 4-3, in the first 45 minutes of the game, the Red and Blue roared back with a staggering 9-1 advantage in shots and a 2-0 lead in corners.
With the freshmen barely having time to get acclimated to campus life and playing with their teammates, a little rustiness was expected. Now that they have some experience under their belt, the team should be primed for a much better performance when they host Robert Morris next Sunday at Rhodes Field.
The Quakers will have a full week to make sure they are all fully acclimated to each other before facing the Colonials (0-4).
“I definitely think we’ve made incredible strides and everyone’s really excited to get out there and play the next game,” Blaber said. “We still have a long way before Ivies, but it will come up fast.”
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