For the Penn men's soccer team, growing pains isn't just an '80s TV show starring Kirk Cameron. Growing pains are also the trials and tribulations that a young team faces during the course of the season. The Quakers have encountered these problems all season, most recently in a 2-1 loss to St. Francis on Wednesday. Penn (0-2-2, 0-1 Ivy League) failed in its fourth attempt at a win this season despite dominating much of the game. The Quakers hope to have learned something from the defeat as they face a tough battle with Cornell (2-3, 0-1) tomorrow at Rhodes Field. "It was a team that we should have beaten," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said of the St. Francis game. "We knew what we had to do to be successful but weren't able to execute until we were down 1-0". The Quakers have been struggling with their scoring throughout the season but Fuller and the players are now looking at another problem area -- starting the game too slow. "They were ready right from the opening kickoff," Penn freshman Nathan Kennedy said. "They caught us on our heels and scored quickly. St. Francis' first goal came within the first four minutes of the game. This issue of bad starts for Penn is not new. Against George Mason, the Quakers allowed a goal only one minute and twenty-one seconds into the second half, and in their game versus James Madison, the opposition scored quickly just after Penn had netted a goal. "We as coaches are talking about what we can do to better prepare the team," Fuller said. "But what it comes down to is that each individual gets ready for games differently. So there's no across-the-board solution." The Quakers need to come out stronger against Cornell. The Big Red are also hungry for their first Ivy win after a 3-1 loss to Princeton last week. "They're smaller but a more skillful team," Penn senior co-captain Reggie Brown said. "They have great play in the midfield and forward positions." Two players the Quakers must watch are juniors Richard Stimpson and Adam Skumawitz. Stimpson is a two- time All-Ivy honoree while Skumawitz is a defenseman-turned-forward. "Those two players playing up top are the guys we need to keep a close eye on," Fuller said. "They have other good players as well and they're going to come out strong." Last year against Cornell, Penn lost 1-0 in Ithaca. Goalie Mike O'Connor made four saves but the Quakers couldn't find the net as the Big Red scored midway through the second half. Cornell is coming off a win at home against Colgate. The squad defeated the Red Raiders 1-0 on a Stimpson goal with 10 minutes left in regulation. Senior goalie Dan Demaine recorded his second career shutout. "They, like us, are a younger team who is also looking for their first Ivy win," Fuller said. "I expect a difficult game that will make us a better team." Along with the growing pains that challenging games may bring come positive aspects as well. The play of the freshman continues to improve with each game. Freshman William Libby scored Penn's lone goal in the loss to St. Francis. "The fact that these young players continue to play hard despite setbacks says a lot about this group," Fuller said. However, if the Quakers come out slowly on Saturday, the setbacks could continue. "Each player needs to figure out what buttons he needs to press to get ready before the whistle blows," Fuller said. If Penn comes out ready to play against Cornell and the freshman keep maturing, the growing pains might be short-lived.Comments powered by Disqus
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