While the Quakers have equaled their '98 win total, they look forward to 2000. As the Penn men's soccer team takes the field for the last time this season at Harvard on Saturday, it will play having answered many questions that were raised in the beginning of the year. While their final record may not be better than last year's, the Quakers (4-10-1, 0-5-1 Ivy League) are much improved over the '98 squad. Penn's record in 1998 was 4-11-1, 0-6-1 in the Ivy League. "We do have a better team," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "We definitely let some games slip away that we should have won, which would have significantly improved our record, but we're working hard to keep this program moving in the right direction." The close games that Fuller referred to occurred frequently this season. The first and probably most disappointing game was a 2-1 loss to St. Francis in the fourth game of the year. The Quakers came out flat and St. Francis took a quick 2-0 lead. Penn fought back with a goal in the second half but ran out of time before it could get the equalizer. "I thought we were better than them last year and we beat them 3-0 and I thought we were better than them this year," Fuller said. "It's a good lesson for the younger guys to learn that you have to come ready to play against every team." Penn followed up the loss to St. Francis with close defeats later in the season at the hands of Columbia, Old Dominion and Brown. Most recently, the Quakers lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Princeton. In that game, a questionable call inside the penalty box gave the Tigers a game-winning penalty kick with a minute to go. "The only two teams that I felt played on a higher level than us were Yale and UMBC," Penn co-captain Reggie Brown said. "We lost five or six games that we had the lead in and that will change as the team has more experience." These frustrations can be all but erased with a win on Saturday. The Quakers have not won an Ivy contest in over a year and a half and a victory would be beneficial for the entire team, from the seniors down to the freshmen. "It's important to send the seniors off on a winning note and [it] lets them put their stamp on a program that's getting turned around," Fuller said. "And it's good for the younger guys to send a message that we're a team to be reckoned with next season." Beating Harvard (4-8-2, 2-3-0), however, will be no small feat. The Crimson are a talented team with two great players. Seniors Armando Petrucelli and Will Hench lead the team with six goals and four assists and three goals and two assists, respectively. "Harvard is having a season similar to ours," Fuller said. "They're better than their record indicates and at this point, there's nothing to play for but pride." Regardless of what happens in the last game, the coaching staff is confident that next year's team will show improvement over this year's squad. "We're trying to start stacking a good recruiting class on a good recruiting class on a good recruiting class," Fuller said. "It's going very well right now, but we won't know until a couple of months from now, so we have to be patient." Fuller also wants to improve upon last year's off-season training program. When he arrived at Penn in the spring of 1998, the off-season program left a lot to be desired. While there was definite progress last spring, he believes that much more can be done. "Getting guys out to play in the spring, lifting religiously and being dedicated to continually improving as individuals and as a team are all things I would hope to see a significant improvement in this off-season," he said. The off-season, however, is still one game away. For now, the Quakers still have a shot at picking up their first Ivy win since 1997.Comments powered by Disqus
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