austin_kuhn

Penn men's soccer senior Austin Kuhn is hoping to a win over rival Princeton in his second-to-last game for the Red and Blue.

Photo: Peter Ribeiro

Just two games remain in the passionate careers of seniors Austin Kuhn, Joe Swenson and Sam Wancowicz.

This Saturday, the Penn men’s soccer team is facing Princeton at Rhodes Field in what should be an exciting addition to homecoming weekend. 

The Quakers (3-11-1, 1-3-1 Ivy) are at the tail end of a developmental season. With 11 freshmen entering the program this year, this season was about much more than wins and losses. Instead, the Red and Blue have been focused on improving every game.

The game plan for the Quakers is the same it has been all season: put themselves in a position to succeed and execute the given opportunities. 

“I think the past couple of weeks this group has turned a corner,” coach Rudy Fuller said. “We’ve had far more consistency in our performances than we had earlier in the year. In each of those games, they’ve put themselves in a position to get in the zone. We just need to continue to do that.” 

On the other side, the Princeton Tigers (5-6-3, 1-2-2 Ivy) are a team sitting in the middle of the pack of the Ivy League. The Tigers currently reside in fifth place and are hunting for a win to propel them into a top four finish entering their final two matches of the season. 

But, this game is about much more than soccer. 

This game is about honoring the tireless effort and incredible leadership of the three graduating seniors, Kuhn, Swenson and Wancowicz.

All three are an integral part of the leadership of this team. Kuhn and Wancowicz are two of the three captains on the team, with Wancowicz becoming a captain as early as his junior season. Additionally, Swenson has been a vital part of the offense since transferring to Penn his junior year. The small graduating senior class has taken this role to help mold the very young Penn roster.

“Especially this year you gotta have an impact on the younger guys because there’s only two upperclassmen,” Kuhn said. “You have a pretty big responsibility to have the team moving in the right direction for next season and for years to come.”

Dating back to freshmen season for Kuhn and Wancowicz and junior year for Swenson, the three men have been a lively addition to the team both of an off the field. On the field they have contributed with numerous goals and defensive stops. Simultaneously, they have developed special connections with teammates and staff. Additionally, not only teammates but also hallmates in their house, the three have formed a close bond as the only two departing seniors on the team and have had fun doing it.

“[My favorite memory] is Dartmouth my freshmen year,” Kuhn said. “Both of us actually scored. We were at Dartmouth and we won 2-1.”

When they leave the program, they will leave the team to a multitude of young talent. This season, they have taken pride and responsibility in being an example to follow for the very large 11 person freshmen class.

“I think [this season] was more about setting an example for the younger kids, getting the culture right, getting the locker room right,” Wancowicz said. “I think we’ve done a really good job of that and we’re in a good spot moving forward after we’re gone.”

In addition to senior night, the game on Saturday will be played as a charity game to support Grassroot Soccer — fitting for the final home game of the two caring seniors. 

Grassroot Soccer is an organization which utilizes soccer to assist youth in overcoming their greatest health challenges. The team goal is to raise $2500 for the organization, which would then be able to provide 100 at-risk youth the education they need. The team is already halfway to its goal.

Both a charity match and senior night, this game is sure to be one to remember. 

As the Quakers take the field this weekend, the three seniors will look to put an exclamation point on their incredible careers with Penn soccer. 

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