Penn blows by St. Joe’s, remains undefeated
Frosh Duke Lacroix scores two goals, earns Ivy Rookie of the Week
September 6, 2011, 10:54 pm · Updated September 7, 2011, 12:14 am·
Christina Wu | DP
The art of goal-scoring is supposedly one that takes time, patience and experience.
But don’t tell that to freshman men’s soccer standout Duke Lacroix, who busted loose in his second career game and notched his first two collegiate goals. His play, combined with three other first-time scorers, paced Penn in a comfortable 5-1 victory over visiting St. Joseph’s.
Although the Quakers (2-0) eventually ran away with the match, things didn’t start well for the Red and Blue as they fell behind the Hawks (0-2) early on a 19th-minute goal by freshman Jake Nelson.
Penn coach Rudy Fuller was unimpressed by his team’s early struggles.
“We clearly weren’t at our best for the start,” Fuller told Penn Athletics.
Lacroix cited tired legs — the Quakers shut out La Salle, 2-0, Friday night — and a lack of conditioning as a possible culprit for the slow start.
“It was brutal,” Lacroix told Penn Athletics in a post game interview. “We were sluggish, played slow and were content with [just] keeping the ball.”
The Red and Blue responded with some strong offensive pressure, totaling 19 shots, four on goal, in the first half.
In the 41st minute, freshman attacker Agyeman Botchway tallied his first career goal off a corner from senior midfielder Christian Barreiro. Just two minutes later, Penn took the lead when senior midfielder Nick Unger found the twine from 25 yards out.
Even with a lead going into halftime, Fuller wasn’t comfortable.
“It really took us pulling everything together at halftime to sort ourselves out,” he said.
After the half, the Red and Blue were indeed a different team — they kept up the offensive pressure and turned chances into scores.
Lacroix notched his first goal in the 65th minute with a beautiful run across the box and cross-body finish. Then with just six seconds remaining in the match, Lacroix punched in his second goal — also unassisted — to seal the 5-1 victory. Lacroix earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors.
“It feels great,” Lacroix said of scoring his first two goals. “I’ve been frustrated recently, the past couple games, unable to finish a couple goals. But the second half of today’s game I really felt like we stepped it up, the entire team played with a lot of energy.”
The Quakers enter the season with a much-heralded recruiting class. Lacroix is one of several freshmen who saw time on the U.S. Under-18 National Team. With so many newcomers playing meaningful minutes and contributing from the start, the Red and Blue’s present and future look bright as they attempt to return to the NCAA tournament.
Another impact freshman is goalkeeper Max Kurtzman, who logged eight saves in Penn’s victory over La Salle Friday and two over St. Joe’s. He replaces Ben Berg, who graduated with 114 career saves.
Despite the success of his squad and his new recruits — and after earning his 100th and 101st career wins at Penn — Fuller wasn’t ready to draw too much from the win.
“It’s nice to be 2-0, but we know we’ve got a long way to go … to really get ourselves to championship level.”