Two games into the 2016 season, Penn men’s soccer is undefeated. It’s also winless. For the first time in program history, the Quakers have begun their slate of games with a pair of draws — a 2-2 effort against American on Friday, followed by a 1-1 affair at Seton Hall on Monday.
After being held to a single goal in their first six matches of 2015, the Red and Blue (0-0-2) matched that total in the 37th minute of the year when junior right back Sam Wancowicz chested down a long ball and rifled it past the American keeper to put his team up, 1-0.
“I decided, ‘Why not?’” Wancowicz said, “tried to go through a couple people, I took a shot, and fortunately, it went in.”
Just a few minutes later, the Eagles (1-0-2) capitalized on a corner kick to level the game at 1-1.
“With that lack of communication, switching off at the corner kick, we should have been 1-0 up at halftime,” Wancowicz lamented.
After halftime, the Quakers were put under a long period of pressure, which ultimately led to an American goal in the 53rd minute. Rather than let their chins down, though, the team was quick to respond.
Freshman debutant Dami Omitaomu ran down the wing after the restart, beat his opponent into the box, and was then dragged down by him, winning his side a penalty kick. Senior forward Alec Neumann put the penalty into the back of the net to tie the game up again at 2-2. While there were more chances, the scoreline ultimately held for the rest of regulation and the two overtime periods.
“We would love to have finished out with a win,” Omitaomu said. “But this is a good way to build. We will learn from this, and move on.”
Sunday, it seemed the Quakers had a ready-made chance to build off of the 2-2 draw. Just seven minutes into the contest, sophomore midfielder Patrick Burd was sent off with a straight red card after stomping on Penn junior Sam Wancowicz — leading to the first of several near-brawls on the evening — and Seton Hall (1-2-1) was forced to play a man down for the duration of play.
Despite the disadvantage, however, it was the Pirates who struck first. A perfectly placed through ball was followed by a somehow more perfect shot from Jonathan Jimenez, who found the top right corner of the goal over Penn sophomore goalkeeper Etan Mabourakh’s arms.
The Pirates maintained control throughout much oft he first half, but the Red and Blue took only a one-goal deficit into the half. Out of the break, the Quakers came to life — tying things up when freshman Arty Kouzine emerged from chaos in the box to find the equalizer.
“I felt like if we had a different makeup of our roster — maybe if we had sever or eight seniors on the field — then it would have been a little bit different,” Penn coach Rudy Fuller noted. “But we were still trying to feel our way through it.”
Penn threatened for much of the rest of the game but never could find the net again, leaving a feeling of dissatisfaction in the air.
“We really wanted to try and get a better result here but for the second time in a row, they showed some resiliency and grit,” Fuller noted.
Draws in hand, the undefeated Quakers will seek their first win of the year as they head to Nebraska for a pair of games this coming weekend.
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