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m soccer v st francsis; #5

Vengeance was the order of the day. And the Penn men's soccer exacted it by winning its first game of the season over St. Francis (Pa.), 1-0, on Friday. The Red Flash edged the Quakers last fall, 2-1, in a game several Penn players came to regard as one of the most disappointing matches of the season. As a result, the Quakers were determined to open their 2000 campaign by avenging one of last fall's disappointments. But the momentum from Friday's victory did not carry over to yesterday, when the Red and Blue traveled to Washington, D.C., to see American run away with a 4-1 victory. On Friday, Penn midfielder Alex Maasry's goal -- assisted by Penn sophomore Nathan Kennedy -- 40 minutes into the first half sealed the Quakers' first victory of the season, but both Maasry and Penn coach Rudy Fuller believe the Red and Blue's performance on the field was less than stellar. "I'm happy because we got the result," Fuller said. "The bottom line is to win, and the guys did what they had to do to get the win. But I think to a man on the team everybody will tell you that we can play much better." Though Penn lengthened the Red Flash's losing streak, bringing St. Francis to 0-3 this season, the team from Loretto, Pa., is no bunch of pushovers. The Red Flash, led by defenders Matt Rosenfeld, Radik Szadorski and Emanuel Iorianni and forward Mike Giardetti, consistently challenged the Quakers. Giardetti repeatedly tested Penn goalie Jeff Groeber, bombarding the Quakers net with a bevy of quality shots. But it was a Giardetti mental lapse that was partially responsible for the Red Flash's loss. Fifteen minutes into the second half, the St. Francis sophomore bounced a shot off the top of the crossbar, and his coach thinks that was the game's crucial mistake. "We played really well for about 89 minutes, and then we lacked concentration for one second by one of our underclassmen [Giardetti]," St. Francis coach Fernando Barboto said. "And that one second cost us a goal, and that cost us the game." But as much as Barboto may think otherwise, it wasn't just Giardetti's second-long concentration lapse that shut out the Red Flash. Penn goalie Jeff Groeber solidly defended the Quakers' goal against a number of solid chances. "I think we won this game because of Jeff Groeber," Penn senior captain Henry Chen said. "If he didn't make all those outstanding saves, we would have easily lost this game. I think we can say we rode on his shoulders." Just as Giardetti kept Groeber on his toes, Penn's Alex Maasry consistently challenged St. Francis goalie Joe Alianiello. While the Quakers appeared to be comfortable setting up goals, sharper execution could have given them a more impressive margin of victory. Even though winning the first game of the season gave the Quakers confidence, they faced a much tougher opponent on Sunday, when they traveled to Washington, D.C., to play American University. The Eagles boast an impressive record over the past few years. They've poked their heads into the national rankings over the past few years and made the NCAA Elite Eight in 1997. Penn started out strong, controlling the ball for the first 20 minutes of the game. But the Quakers eventually let down on defense and allowed the Eagles to score late in the first half, and again early on in the second half. With American up 2-0, Penn made something of a charge. Assisted by Penn midfielder Eric Mandel, Penn junior Sam Chamovitz scored what turned out to be the Red and Blue's only goal of the contest. Chamovitz's goal seemed to give Penn some momentum, but the Quakers failed to score again. As in Friday's game against St. Francis, the Quakers only managed to get one ball past the pipes. The Eagles, however, didn't have this problem, pulling off a total of three goals in the second half, to finish off Penn, 4-1. Penn junior John Salvucci believes that the Quakers loss is partly due to timing, as American is only Penn's second game of the season. "They play fast, and that's what we need to improve on," Salvucci said. "If we played [American] towards the end of the season, it would be a completely different game. It's early in the season, and we're still learning." Chamovitz, an All-Patriot League transfer from Bucknell, wasn't the only Quakers player to make an impressive debut this weekend. Penn freshman Louis Lazar came off the bench in both of this weekend's games to rave reviews. "[Lazar] has given us a tremendous spark and is really making a case to get in the top 11," Fuller said. "Louie and Sammy [Chamovitz] were the men of the [American] match.

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