After losing its first two matches of the season by identical 2-0 scorelines against Monmouth and Bowling Green last weekend, Penn men’s soccer will look to rebound this Sunday at home against Seton Hall.
Last Friday against Monmouth, Penn (0-0-2) quickly established themselves as the more aggressive team. At halftime, the Red and Blue had doubled the Hawks’ total shots 6-3. Penn finished the game with three more shots too, but Monmouth managed to make the most of its opportunities, converting two of its three shots on target into goals.
It was a different story, but the same result in the weekend’s second game against Bowling Green. The Quakers struggled to find scoring opportunities in the early goings, but had several promising chances by the game’s end. Unfortunately for Penn, it’s best chance ended in disappointment after sophomore forward Sam Hefter broke away late in the game for a one on one with the Falcons’ goalie. Not only did Hefter fail to score, but he also earned himself a red card after making unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper.
On the other end, Bowling Green built its two-goal lead early in the second half after scoring two goals within a five-minute span.
If Penn wants to flip the script against Seton Hall (1-2-1) and win its first game of the season, some of the Quakers’ shots will have to start landing between the posts. Despite combining for 16 overall shots so far, only three of those have been on target and none have found the back of the net.
This will be no easy task against Seton Hall’s stingy defense. Through four games so far, the Pirates have only allowed four total goals — including a shutout victory in the team’s most recent matchup against Sacred Heart.
"I think when you talk about the attacking side of things, a lot of it is continuity and comfort-level," coach Rudy Fuller said. "Three of the front six are new, so those relationships and those connections need time to develop."
It also does not help that the Red and Blue will need to play without Hefter, who will be forced to sit out after his ejection against Bowling Green. Though Hefter did not start either of the first two matches, he provided valuable rest for Penn’s other strikers.
"It will be interesting. I mean we could come out with a different look, I think we’ll look to different players," coach Fuller said.
Of course, stopping Seton Hall’s scoring attack will not be easy either. In the win over Sacred Heart, three different Pirates — sophomore Jonathan Jimenez, senior Mario Prata and junior Gabriel Viola — all recorded both a goal and assist in the game.
If Penn is able to come through and win this game, not only will it be the Quakers’ first win of the season, but it will also mark a major improvement from 2016 when it took Penn five games to get in the win column.
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