Mike McElwain's goal made the difference as Penn moved within one of its '98 win total. It wasn't pretty, but the Penn men's soccer team has its first winning streak of the season. After a 1-0 victory over Philadelphia University yesterday at Rhodes Field, the Quakers have won two in a row and three of their last four games. "We're feeling good about our play right now," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "So much of college soccer is how a team is feeling about itself and with each week that has passed, the guys have gained more and more confidence." The way Penn (3-4-2) started out the game against Philadelphia (7-4-2), a win did not seem like it was in the cards. In the first half the Quakers were outshot 4-0 and were beaten in every offensive category. "In the first half, I figured we'd open ahead," Philadelphia coach John Dunlop said. "We figured it would be a one or two-goal game." In the second half, however, the Quakers came out with more intensity and dominated for most of the second frame. Three minutes after halftime, Penn recorded its first shot of the game when senior Jason Karageorge hit the ball from 35 yards out toward the top right corner. Rams goalie Mike Hamilton made a nice save but that set up a corner kick, which Penn sophomore Evan Anderson headed at Hamilton for the Quakers' second shot. This flurry set the stage for what was to be a Penn-dominated half. "We really had difficulty getting the ball under control in the first half," Fuller said. "But we absorbed a lot, stayed organized and did OK defensively. We talked at halftime about showing a bit more of our soccer and that's what happened." After a few more close calls for the Quakers -- including freshman Robb Jankura's shot that sailed just wide of the goal and another Karageorge bomb from 40 yards out -- the Red and Blue finally netted one. With just under 10 minutes left in regulation, Penn freshman William Libby got a hold of the ball on the edge of the goal box, took the ball down the left side and crossed it to Mike McElwain, who shot the ball between the diving goalie and the near post. "Billy had a great cross," McElwain said. "I was lucky enough to be in the box. I got the ball, pushed it past a defender and just shot away." McElwain's goal was the second for him of the season and the third of his career, and proved to be the game winner, as Penn and Philadelphia played to a draw for the remainder of the game. "It definitely was not one of the prettiest games of the year," Quakers co-captain Mike O'Connor said. "But throughout the game, we made sure to control the things we could and not have any breakdowns on team defense. We knew a goal was going to come, so we didn't really worry about getting the chances -- we just made sure the defense stayed strong." In net, O'Connor benefitted from the defense's strong play in the second half, as the Quakers allowed the Rams to take just three shots after the break. O'Connor, who finished with four saves, recorded his fourth shutout of the season. Along with the tough defense and persistent offense came a physical game from both squads. Seven yellow cards and two red cards were distributed during the course of the match. David Bonder received a red card for Penn while Adam Pollack received a red card for the Rams following a late-game altercation. The two players were penalized as a result of a minor fight shortly after the Penn goal had been scored. "There were some reckless tackles," Fuller said. "I don't think it was dirty or with intent to injure, but it was just a sloppy game." O'Connor, however, said that the intensity was due to the two team's close proximity to one another. "Anytime two city teams go at it, it's pretty much a rough game," he said. "But the ref was pretty much calling everything, and keeping it under control, but it's going to happen." The Quakers are now one game below .500 and have just one win less than their 1998 total (four) with eight games to play. While they have no more games remaining against Philadelphia teams, the Quakers resume play Saturday against Old Dominion and play their next Ivy game a week later at home against Brown.Comments powered by Disqus
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