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M Soccer v St. Francis #3 Chris Kan

In its second and most recent game of the season, the Penn men's soccer team fell 4-1 to American last Sunday. But both players and Penn coach Rudy Fuller alike will tell you that the Quakers had it in them to win the match. This weekend, the Red and Blue will have a chance to prove that they can beat teams in the Colonial Athletic Association -- the challenging league that includes American -- when they face Richmond and East Carolina in the Nike Challenge Cup, held at Richmond today and tomorrow. "We took a lot away from the American game, [it] being a game we thought we should have won," Penn junior goalie Jeff Groeber said. "We have to not have any mental breakdowns and stay strong, and hopefully we'll get a victory this time." The tournament, which includes Penn, Richmond, East Carolina and St. Bonaventure, requires that each school play two games. A points system will determine the champion. Three points are awarded for a win, one point for a tie and zero points for a loss. Should head-to-head results fail to determine a champion, goal differential would be used as a tie-breaker. Richmond and East Carolina, the schools the Quakers will face, appear to be the toughest of the lot. The Spiders, who will play Penn today, were 1998 CAA champions. They currently carry a 2-2 record, which includes a 1-0 victory over Yale on September 8 and, most recently, a 2-1 loss to Brown on Sunday. East Carolina, which will face the Quakers tomorrow, is currently 2-1-1, with recent wins over Central Florida and UNC-Asheville. "Both games will be challenging," Fuller said. "Richmond is as good or better than American, and East Carolina will be another challenging game." But playing competitive teams like these are just what Penn needs in order to warm up for the Ivy season, which begins next Friday at Cornell. This weekend, the Quakers, who have been plagued with pesky injuries since the preseason, are faced with filling the position of sophomore midfielder Nathan Kennedy, who dislocated his knee in practice this week and will be out for an undetermined length of time. Though it has not yet been decided who will take Kennedy's starting spot, Fuller claims that the team is deeper than it has ever been before, and believes several Quakers are up for the challenge -- especially freshmen Louis Lazar and Nick Severini, as well as sophomore Niko Vittas. "A big key for us [this weekend] is to fill Nate's spot," Groeber said. "[It's] a huge loss for us, but our younger players should do a good job." Coming off last Sunday's loss to American, the Quakers focused on working the ball to the forwards and maintaining possession in this week's practices. Penn senior captain Henry Chen believes that his team has already improved in the week-old season. Although the Quakers were victorious in their season opener against St. Francis last Friday, the Red Flash got the ball behind Penn's defense more than the Quakers would have liked. But despite their loss to American, Chen feels that both teams were basically playing on the same level. "We know we can score. It's just a matter of finishing off our chances," Chen said. "It's just a matter of time before we're scoring three or four goals a game. I think it's coming this weekend."

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