Two games. Four goals. Four scorers. Two wins.
Penn women’s soccer knew this weekend would be a grind, playing in its first two-game weekend set of the season. The Quakers also knew that if they wanted to secure wins over Lafayette and Delaware, they’d have to rely on an array of different players.
The plan worked. With a pair of 2-1 decisions, the Red and Blue took down the previously undefeated Leopards at home on Friday before downing the Blue Hens in their first road contest on Sunday.
In both matches, the Quakers (3-1-0) held a 2-0 lead before the 35th minute, and in both matches the defense held up when it looked like their opponent might tie things.
On Friday, things developed slowly with Penn controlling possession and keeping play mainly in the midfield. In a 10-minute span, however, things quickly changed.
In the 22nd minute, senior forward Olivia Blaber found the net with a header off a cross from freshman midfielder Emily Sands. Then, in the 31st minute, senior defender Riann Winget launched a rocket off of a cross from sophomore Sasha Stephens to log her first career goal.
“Riann coming up clutch there, I feel like that’s what this year is going to be about,” Penn coach Nicole Van Dyke said. “Just different people stepping up at different times. We’re not a team full of superstars, we’re a team of great players. We’re not relying on one or two people.”
They took the two-goal lead into the half, but the Quakers quickly ran the risk of becoming complacent. Lafayette (3-2-2) logged a 65th-minute goal and looked several times late in the game like they would find the equalizer.
“We have three goals that we came out of this game with,” Winget explained. “We wanted to put goals in, we wanted to put our stamp on the game early — we wanted to play the way we want to play — and then we wanted to keep a shut out, which we didn’t do on this game, so it’s going to be a goal for the next game as well.”
But the defense, anchored by freshman Kitty Qu in goal, held firm.
They would be asked to do the same on Sunday.
Taking a day trip to Delaware (1-7-0), Penn quickly got ahead as Sands found the net against heady winds in the 11th minute, and it became 2-0 when freshman forward Emma Loving scored her team-best third goal of the year in the 26th minute.
It seemed as though things were going to be smooth sailing for the Red and Blue — until Delaware converted on a penalty called in the 45th minute, taking some wind out of Van Dyke’s squad.
“In the second half, as we came out, I think we just tried to play a little bit smarter than them. ... We sat behind the ball a little bit and just tried to stay organized defensively and we just had to grind it out,” Van Dyke said.
Indeed, the defense held firm in the second half. Though the Blue Hens had several opportunities — including a pair of corners in the last 10 minutes — Qu refused to let another shot by, and the Quakers held on to sweep their first two-game weekend of the year.
Penn will have to run through a similar gauntlet once more — against Towson and Drexel next weekend — and then the real challenge starts: Ivy play.
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