It took them seven games, but Penn men’s soccer finally got it done in regulation Saturday. Emphatically.
After getting their first win of the season against La Salle in double overtime last week, the Quakers were looking to put their recent stretch of overtime battles behind them as they welcomed Drexel to Rhodes Field on a perfect night for soccer.
When the dust settled, the result was picture perfect for the Quakers. Senior Alec Neumann had a hat trick by halftime and the Red and Blue never looked back, adding goals from Sam Wancowicz and Sam Hefter in a commanding 5-0 blowout of the Dragons (1-5-2).
The sheer amount of goals was a departure from the previous six games this year, during which the Quakers (2-1-4) managed only a total of seven goals. As Penn coach Rudy Fuller put it, “I don’t think we were shooting any differently. You just have nights like this where you take your chances. And we were due.”
Penn most certainly was due for some offensive production; they entered the game as the Ivy League leaders in shots, but third worst in goals per game. That changed on Saturday in a big way.
“All five were good team goals. ... I think that what we really harped on this week was winning the box: being first, being aggressive ... and I think that paid off tonight,” Neumann said.
It paid off handsomely for Neumann, whose hat trick came in a span of 17 minutes in the first half. He seemed to be in the right place at the right time all game, finding the ball with space in the box early and often. His positioning was key on his first goal, which was less about him finding the ball and more the ball finding him. Either way, he pounced on the opportunity when the ball squirted out of a mad scramble in front of goal in the 23rd minute.
He didn’t have to wait long to get a second — under two minutes — when a scintillating run by freshman Dami Omitaomu ended with an assist for him and a second goal for Neumann. Omitaomu is the one of five players — and the only freshman — to have started all seven games.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “Clicking with the team, trying to get goals, trying to help the team win. ... It’s really boosted my confidence. It’s a good feeling.”
The third came on from a great piece of midfield play from the Quakers. After forcing a turnover at midfield, sophomore Gideon Metrikin played a tantalizing through ball to — guess who — Alec Neumann, who stepped around the last defender and applied the finish.
The second half followed much of the same script on the score sheet, but the game took a bit of a nasty turn for a sequence or two. A series of hard tackles and dangerous challenges between Drexel’s Colin McGlynn and Penn junior Sam Wancowicz led to a yellow card for the Drexel midfielder.
Much to the consternation of the Drexel players and fans, the referee saw nothing wrong with Wancowitz’s role in the play. Continuing the theme of “winning the box,” the Quaker right back promptly scored a goal eerily similar to the first one, finishing off another scramble in front of net with a Penn goal.
The Drexel frustrations which had begun to boil over in the McGlynn-Wancowicz tussle continued five minutes later as Jameson Detweiler was booked for another hard foul on Wancowicz.
In the 86th minute, freshman and Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Week Sam Hefter finished the scoring by heading home a Brandon Bartel free kick. It was Bartel’s second assist of the night.
“I think we’ve gotten better each game. I think we’re learning that the next step is all effort... just putting in the effort and time [in practice],” Neumann said.
And this time, they got the result.
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