emilySands

Although Penn lost 1-0, Sophomore midfielder Emily Sands created many of the Quakers' chances. 

Photo: Angel Fan

They need the ball to get into the back of the net. 

Bad.

Penn women’s soccer failed to convert any of the chances it created in a 1-0 loss to Bucknell Sunday night, leaving the team goalless in four of its first five games of the season. 

The loss was remarkably frustrating for the Quakers, precisely because they’re so desperate for a goal. They outshot the Bison (2-5) by a margin of 14 to eight, and they earned 10 corner kicks compared to the Bison’s one. 

Penn (0-3-2) put the pressure on Bucknell all night long. For long periods of time, chance after chance gave the Quakers hope that they would secure their first win of the season. Unfortunately for them, no one could convert the several golden opportunities they produced. 

“I think we started feeling like we had to rush things,” coach Nicole Van Dyke said. “We obviously have to have a little bit more maturity in the game….you have to score goals.” 

Most of the Quakers’ attacking moves either started or ended with Emily Sands. 

The sophomore, who was fielded at the start of the game at the front of the Quakers’ attack, curled an effort from outside the 18-yard box inches wide of the far post just three minutes into the game. It was the first of several chances for her on the night — and it wasn’t the closest she came to scoring. 

In the 27th minute, Penn earned a corner and creatively fed the ball into the box via the ground, finding Sands at the top of the penalty area. The sophomore ripped a shot headed straight for goal, but a Bison defender blocked the effort just before it hit the target. The ball bounced out for another corner, and the Quakers tried the same thing — this time, Sands’ attempt wasn’t blocked, but it was flashed just wide once again. 

That one minute just about summed up the whole match and maybe even the season thus far for the Red and Blue: whether through last-ditch defending or narrowly-missed shots, they just haven’t been able to find the back of the net. 

Sands totalled six shots on the night, catching the eyes of fans and Van Dyke alike. 

“Emily Sands came to play,” Van Dyke said. “She worked defensively, offensively...she was great tonight.”

Ultimately, her performance wasn’t enough to secure her team a win. As the game wore on, and the Quakers grew more frustrated, things tensed up with the Bison sensing they were one lucky shot or successful counter-attack away from stealing a victory. 

Bucknell did score a goal at the very end of the first half — though it was disallowed as the forward was offsides. The Bison’s attack kept riding the line all night, however, and one ball put a forward through with just over 10 minutes left in the game. Her resulting looping shot over rookie keeper Ashley Gabor gave the visitors the lead they would not relinquish. 

It was cruel fate for the hosts, who were the better side all night. Several players impressed over the 90-minute affair.

One rookie in particular sliced and diced defenders for much of the night, creating several chances through her take-ons and crosses. 

Freshman Katharine Larson started the game on the bench, with last season’s leading scorer Emma Loving being favored over her in the right wing position. But Van Dyke saw the need for a change in tactics mid-game, and Larson, once given the chance, didn’t disappoint. In her 50 minutes on the pitch, she created about as much as anyone else did in 90 — even if no chance was ever finished. 

“We’ve won our 50-50s, we’ve worked hard during practice, now it’s just a matter of putting the ball in the back of the net,” Larson said.

Penn will have another chance to find its second goal and first win of the season against Delaware. With a loyal crowd at Rhodes Field to support them against the Blue Hens (2-2-2), all eyes will wait to see if the Quakers can break their duck in the seven o’clock Monday night fixture. 

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