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heidi nichols; w soccer v drexel

The script was followed perfectly. Another strong home defensive performance. Another balanced offensive attack. Another shutout victory for the Penn women's soccer team. And yes, the game was played at Rhodes Field. With a 4-0 win over Drexel yesterday, the Quakers extended their home winning streak to nine. The team has allowed only one goal during this streak, which began with Penn's first home game of last season. It's almost becoming automatic. Penn controlled the contest from the very start, maintaining possession for the better part of the game and pushing the Dragons back on their heels. The Quakers got on the board just five minutes into the game with a nicely executed give-and-go by senior Angela Konstantaras and Kelli Toland. Toland dished it to Konstantaras on the right wing before receiving it back at the top of the 18-yard box. The senior captain then found the top left corner of the net to put the Quakers up 1-0. "Combination play is something that we've been working on," Toland said. "We've played together for four years, so we know each other's playing styles." The Red and Blue put another one in the back of the net with 12 minutes left in the half on a Toland through-ball to junior forward Sabrina Fenton. The goal gave the Quakers a 2-0 margin, a lead that they would take into the half. The second half brought more of the same for the Red and Blue as they continued to shut down the Drexel offensive attack while penetrating their defense at will. Before the Dragons could even catch their breath, Konstantaras juked out Drexel junior defender Katie Daniels on the right side with a hesitation move that left Daniels dazed and confused. The senior midfielder then crossed it into the middle to find wide-open junior defender Sarah Campbell, who put the Quakers up 3-0 just two minutes into the second half. "[Penn] Coach [Darren Ambrose] has been working with me to stay wide and then dump it in to whoever is open," Konstantaras said. Eight minutes later, Toland notched her second assist of the game to sophomore forward Heidi Nichols to complete the Penn goal scoring. "We keep on building and playing better and better than the game before," senior co-captain Ashley Kjar said after the win. The victory marked the eighth shutout in the last nine home games for the Quakers. The defense, anchored by Campbell and Kjar in the middle, allowed minimal offensive pressure and controlled the pace of the game. Newcomer freshman goalie Vanessa Scotto notched her second shutout of the season while recording five saves. "We defended as well as we have at any time since preseason," said Ambrose, who, with the win, improved to 2-1 in his head coaching career. "We gave up possession in the first half, but we quickly solved that problem." "I'm really happy with our defense," Toland added. "We played 90 minutes of great defense, which is very encouraging." But more important than anything is the incredible home-field advantage that the Quakers have created for themselves. They have not lost a game at Rhodes Field since 1998, which will bode very well for them as they host three-time defending Ivy League champion Harvard to kick off Ancient Eight competition this Saturday. "We're going in on a really high note," Ambrose said. "They [Harvard] are coming into Rhodes, so the pressure is more on them than us." "Rhodes Field is all about pride," Toland said. "All energy, all heart, all commitment." But more than that, Rhodes Field is all about Penn winning.

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