Penn women’s soccer had a hard-fought weekend on the West Coast as they took on two non-conference teams.
With it being their first weekend on the road, the team performed well while working out some of their early season kinks. Friday night's contest with UC Irvine ended in a scoreless, double-overtime draw, while Sunday's contest against UC Riverside resulted in a 1-1 tie.
“I think the team did amazing. Obviously we didn’t get the result we wanted but we’re still undefeated on the road. We’re getting a lot better every game and we have our first goal under our belt,” senior midfielder Erica Higa said.
Kitty Qu, the sophomore starting goalkeeper, played a pivotal role for the squad. With UC Irvine (1-1-2) having a massive shot advantage (19-4 by game's end) over the Quakers (0-2-2), Qu made key saves in the nail-biting moments to keep her squad in the game.
However, Qu is optimistic she won't be called on to deal with so many shots going forward. With the new defensive line being mostly underclassmen, Qu believes that there is a lot of room for improvement in the back from the goalkeeping perspective.
“We need to improve on our organization,” Qu explained. “We have a young back line that hasn’t really played together, but I thought that people really stepped up. We did well blocking passing lanes and preventing through balls and focused on playing together, so that was a big part of our results.”
Qu saved all eight of UC Irvine's shots on target to keep her clean sheet intact on Friday night. In the 105th minute, the Anteaters were granted a corner and Qu made back-to-back saves to keep their opponents off the scoreboard.
Later in the weekend, the Red and Blue found themselves in another tough matchup against UC Riverdale (2-2-2). The game ended in a 1-1 draw, with the Highlanders responding with a goal in the second half after Higa scored the Quakers' first (and to-date, only) goal of the season in the first half.
“We need to finish our chances. We got some good chances, so we just need to work on being more clinical in front of the goal. We are working out the kinks but overall we are improving every game,” Higa said.
After a pair of 1-0 losses the previous week, Penn came into these games hungry for a victory. Although they did not come out with clean wins, the ties still leave them in a solid place heading into their upcoming matchups.
“[The goal] was the icing on the cake," Higa added. "We deserved it. It could have been anyone. We were working our butts off and it was just a matter of who was going to do it and when. It was a little bit too long coming, but it was good to get some results."
Overall, Higa and Qu both felt positive about the team’s performance and know results will only get better as the team continues to play together throughout the season.
“We want more results but that will come with hard work and winning individual battles. Major props to Allie Trzaska and Megan Lloyd this weekend,” Higa said. “They both played 220 minutes each and were winning all of the balls in the midfield. It is key to capitalize on those first and second balls.”
After a tough weekend in California, the Quakers will look forward to the chance to get their first win against Bucknell this Saturday at Rhodes Field.
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