After one very successful season, Andy nelson called it quits yesterday in favor of the Pac-10 powerhouse. After just one year at the helm of the Penn women's soccer team, coach Andy Nelson abruptly resigned yesterday to take the top job at reigning Pac-10 champion Stanford. "The program is a big-time program, top 10 in the country, but still a very academic school like Penn," Nelson said. "But there's also the possibility to use scholarships. It's just a super opportunity." Nelson's move is the latest in a chain of coaching changes that began when the United States women's national team won the World Cup last summer. National team coach Tony DiCicco stepped down in November to spend more time with his family. Virginia coach April Heinrichs was named as his successor, and Stanford coach Steve Swanson replaced her at Virginia. Now Nelson will lead the Cardinal, only a season after leading the Quakers to their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. "Andy brought us to the next level," said Penn junior midfielder Kelli Toland, who was first team All-Ivy this fall. "The NCAA is a great accomplishment." The Quakers had plenty of great accomplishments over the course of Nelson's one-year tenure. Penn went 6-1 in the Ivy League a season after compiling an uninspiring 1-5-1 mark in the Ancient Eight. The Red and Blue were also undefeated in seven home games, never allowing a goal on the Rhodes Field pitch. Freshman goalie Katherine Hunt tied a Penn record with 10 shutouts during the season. There was plenty of offensive support, though, as Toland was the Ivy League's leading scorer with eight goals and seven assists. "I really enjoyed the players," Nelson said. "That's the thing that I'll miss the most. I really enjoyed working with them. I was lucky to work with a great group of kids." But even though Penn had a lot of success in his short time here, Nelson feels like he is leaving some unfinished business behind on the west bank of the Schuylkill. "To be honest, I did expect to be here for a minimum of five years," Nelson said. "But sometimes, when opportunities come up, you can't really time them the way you'd like to time them, and it ended up in a funny way." The departing coach regretted that he will not be able to lead the Quakers to the Ivy League title, but said he felt the Red and Blue can continue to contend for the crown and may become a top-20 team with some added work in spots. While Nelson moves on to his third head coaching job in three years -- he was at Division III Wellesley in 1998 -- the Quakers will have their third coach in that same span. Although Nelson's sudden move is a shock to the Quakers, it does not create an entirely unfamiliar situation, as it was when Patrick Baker left Penn for Florida State after the '98 season. "We've been through spring before without a coach," Toland said. "We can do it again. I feel like our team will be committed." As surprising as Nelson's decision to go to Stanford is, the Quakers' reaction of determination to continue is not going to make anyone, least of all Nelson, do a double-take. "They were very surprised, [but] I thought they took it well," Nelson said. "I thought they took it with a lot of maturity and a lot of resolve. They're not going to let this be in any way a drawback. It'll be a challenge, but it'll make them tighter and stronger as a team." The parting of ways was as pleasant as it was abrupt for the players and the departing coach. "It was a shock to everyone," Toland said. "But it's an amazing opportunity for him. A great school in a beautiful place We're all excited for him, but it was definitely a shock."Comments powered by Disqus
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