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She may not be the biggest or most intimidating player on the field, but Penn women's soccer captain Kelli Toland knows how to get results with skill, leadership and a little humor. "Kelli's always got something to say; she's always positive, always chirping," Penn coach Darren Ambrose said, accompanying his last word with a grin. Like any standout, Toland was introduced very early in life to the sport that would become her passion. Her older brother and sister were both soccer players, and Kelli began to follow in their footsteps at the age of five. As Toland sharpened her skills over the years, the Penn captain qualified for a number of youth all-star teams, including six appearances on a prestigious regional team, which featured the top athletes from the Northeast. Though championships and honors have abounded in Toland's high school and collegiate career, the 1999 Academic All-Ivy representative maintains that a key to her success is enjoying what she is doing. "[My family] always taught me that soccer is fun," Toland said. "I'll laugh during games, even serious ones. You have to remember it's just a game." That philosophy, combined with her brilliant talent, has earned the Northeast Philly native first team All-Ivy honors twice, and a spot on the All-Freshman team for the Mid-Atlantic region three years ago. Toland also took the league scoring title last year when she recorded 23 points, the second-highest season total in Penn history. The midfielder is undoubtedly among the league's best at her position. Aside from her jovial and upbeat demeanor on the field, the Quakers senior also credits her success and level of enthusiasm while playing the game to some very special relationships. For one thing, her two biggest fans are almost always in attendance. "My parents have only missed three games, home or away, in three years," Toland said. And she never has to stray far from her closest friends or housemates, whether she's home at Rhodes Field or away at Dartmouth. Her teammates fit both of these descriptions. "The friendships that I've made have been the best part of playing [soccer for Penn]," Toland said. Though she displays a clever wit and an inviting smile on the field, that is not to suggest that Penn's captain lacks intensity. Her competitiveness is unparalleled. "The bottom line with Kelli is that she wants to win at everything she does," Ambrose said. "The girls look up to her because she doesn't quit. She's a fighter." "She will never lose," senior co-captain Ashley Kjar added, referring to her teammate's will to win. And for someone who appreciates victory so much, watching her Penn team mature around her over the past few years has been extremely gratifying. "I feel a sense of pride to have not even been here for four years and see us improve so much," Toland said. That being said, there is more work to be done. As the adage goes, with winning comes higher expectations, and the Quakers look to follow up their first-ever NCAA appearance with an even stronger season. "I think [Kelli] still feels she has a lot to prove," Ambrose said. "I think she feels that the team doesn't get the respect it deserves, and Kelli takes that personally." Two games into her senior season, Toland expects another strong year from her Penn team. The Red and Blue's quest for success continues this afternoon at Rhodes Field against Drexel.

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