jadyn_wilenski

Freshman defender Jadyn Wilenski has been one of several key freshman on a stellar defensive unit that is averaging less than a goal against per game.

Photo: Chase Sutton

For Penn women's soccer, it's all about defense. 

The Quakers (5-6-3, 3-1-1 Ivy) have only allowed 10 goals thus far through 14 games this season. Throughout the season, the team's focus has remained on the defensive side of the ball, as coach Nicole Van Dyke and her staff have implemented a new system centered around defense.  

The defensive players have an immense leadership role that echoes throughout the squad on and off the field. The more experienced players have worked alongside the younger players and have given the freshman a steady support system on which they can rely. 

"One of the biggest things they have taught me is to just to play without thinking about any other pressures and to play for each other," freshman Jadyn Wilensky said.  

The youthful backline has been a stable presence throughout a season in which the offense has generally struggled.

Photo: Chase Sutton

"We have such a young backline where we have just been able to develop with each other and also develop as a team," Wilensky said.  

The defensive mentality truly resonates throughout the team, as even the forwards are eager to help on defense. 

"At first, it put me out of my comfort zone a little bit because I was so used to everything being attack," junior forward Sasha Stephens said. "But once we started, I realized the importance of it and focused more on getting better in that aspect." 

"I think they've seen so much and they've grown so much together that they're very confident and they believe in the way they play," Van Dyke said. "We're very good defensively, we defend from the top to the bottom, everyone knows their role, it's not just our back four." 

Photo: Zach Sheldon

The Quakers travel to Providence this weekend to face Brown (10-4, 3-2) in a crucial Ivy League contest. With only two games remaining to prove themselves as title contenders, this match is vital for the Red and Blue, who are currently in third place in the Ivy League standings, only one point ahead of their upcoming opponent. 

The team is confident in their abilities, however, and will leave everything out on the field.  

"I think we're playing well, the kids are training well, we're scoring goals — it's just another opportunity for us," Van Dyke said. "We're excited because Brown is another team that plays three at the back, and we've done well against team with three at the back."

The Quakers will look to take advantage of that Brown backline to gain as much momentum as possible going into their season finale against Princeton.   

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