Going into yesterday's game at Stony Brook, the Penn women's soccer team found itself in an unfamiliar situation. After a 1999 season that saw the Quakers stand near the top of the Ivy League and advance to their first-ever NCAA Tournament, expectations ran high for the 2000 version of the Red and Blue. However, after a tough loss to archrival and Ivy League powerhouse Harvard this past weekend, Penn dropped to 2-2 and found itself looking up in the Ancient Eight standings. A loss to Stony Brook would have sent the Quakers tumbling under .500 heading into the thick of their Ivy League schedule. But the Red and Blue showed why they are a premier soccer team, proving their resilience in a 3-0 trouncing of the Seawolves yesterday on Long Island. "It's good to get a win after a tough loss," sophomore forward Heidi Nichols said. "It got our morale up going into a crucial game this weekend." The win over Stony Brook yesterday marked the Quakers' second shutout of the season and another outstanding defensive performance. "We once again defended superbly," Penn coach Darren Ambrose said. "I'm really pleased with how we are defending in the midfield and in the back." Anchoring the defense was freshman goalkeeper Vanessa Scotto, who got the starting nod over sophomore Katherine Hunt after Hunt gave up two goals and took the loss against the Crimson on Saturday. Scotto turned in a strong performance, pulling in three saves and notching her second shutout of the season. Also playing well and leading Penn's defense were central defenders junior Sarah Campbell and senior Ashley Kjar. "They [Campbell and Kjar] did a fantastic job of holding us together and a very good job of reading what the other team was doing," Ambrose said. But while the Quakers defense was strong, their offense had a bit of trouble finishing scoring opportunities and beating the Seawolves' pesky off-sides trap. Nevertheless, Penn found the back of the net on three occasions, which was more than enough support for the Red and Blue backfield. Junior forward Sabrina Fenton got the Quakers on the board in the 15th minute. Fenton received the ball from senior co-captain Kelli Toland on a through-ball that broke the off-sides trap before beating Stony Brook goalkeeper Renee Pelletier. With two minutes remaining in the half, freshman forward Ayla Gustafson fired a shot under Pelletier and into the goal to put the Quakers up 2-0 heading into halftime. In the beginning of the second half, Penn created a bevy of scoring chances in an excellent 25- minute spurt. And early in the second half, Nichols gave the Quakers their third and final goal of the contest on what Ambrose called "a great individual effort." After receiving a header from freshman midfielder Heather Issing, the sophomore forward used her body to shield off pressure before scoring her second goal of the season. Nichols, out for three weeks with a sprained ankle earlier in the season, has returned as a force for the Quakers. "She's coming back and making a difference every time she steps on the field," Ambrose said. "I'm feeling good now," Nichols added. "It was frustrating in the beginning, but now I'm excited to be a part of the team again." The victory over Stony Brook yesterday should be a momentum booster for the Quakers as they head into their second Ivy League contest this weekend. "The win was really important because it keeps everyone positive going into Cornell," Kjar said.Comments powered by Disqus
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