How long ago that disheartening loss to the Harvard Crimson seems now. It may have just been last Saturday that the Penn women's soccer team was dealt a crushing blow by Harvard, but so much has happened since then. Especially in the last 24 hours. The Quakers defeated Cornell by a score of 2-1 at Ithaca, N.Y., yesterday afternoon, while the Crimson -- the Red and Blue's hated league rival -- dropped a decision by the same count at Brown. Penn coach Darren Ambrose insists that the Ivy League was neither won nor lost after the Crimson scored two late goals to top the Quakers 2-1 at Rhodes Field. But the fact that both teams would be back on even ground after just one subsequent Ivy League match is a welcome surprise for the Quakers. The Red and Blue, after having their nine-game home winning streak snapped a week ago, have now won two straight games away from Rhodes Field. Penn routed the Stony Brook Seawolves on Long Island on Wednesday, 3-0. Beating the Big Red -- by far the more impressive of the two wins -- gave the Quakers their first Ivy victory of the young season and the first with Ambrose at the helm. "It's such a confidence builder to beat an Ivy League team on the road," Penn freshman Heather Issing said. Both Penn and Cornell were held scoreless in the first half, perhaps in part due to wet and cool playing conditions. The Quakers came out the stronger club in the second period, though. Penn sophomore midfielder Heidi Nichols registered the first goal of the match at the 53:05 mark, with an assist from senior midfielder Aidan Viggiano. The Red and Blue added some insurance in the 77th minute, courtesy of a brilliant unassisted goal by sophomore midfielder Jen Valentine, coming from beyond the 18-yard box. It turned out to secure the Quakers' win, as Cornell came back with a goal of its own in the closing minutes. Big Red junior midfielder Sarah Olsen found the back of the net with 2:50 remaining in the contest. Things then got a little too close for comfort for the Quakers as a shot by Cornell's Ellen Daly sailed just over the crossbar less than a minute later. "We need to keep our momentum up for the full 90 minutes," Issing said. This now looks to be an ongoing concern for Penn, after it self-destructed in a similar spot against Harvard last week, surrendering two goals in less than a minute. This time, however, the Quakers were able to hold on, and they'll tell you it's all about the bottom line. Standing up to Cornell's late flurry was Penn freshman goalkeeper Vanessa Scotto, who turned in another solid effort. Scotto has earned the starting role for the time being and has performed well, allowing just one goal in her last two starts. At the first sign of trouble with Scotto, Ambrose might be encouraged to turn back to sophomore Katherine Hunt, but this sort of goalkeeper controversy appears to be healthy for the Quakers. "It's good motivation to work my butt off at practice," Scotto said. "I'm a competitive person; I love it." The Red and Blue have been tenacious in recent games. They refuse to let that queasy sensation they acquired after the Harvard loss escape them completely. It's their driving force, serving as a constant reminder of how awful it feels to lose a critical game. "We have to keep that sour taste in our mouth to keep us motivated," Scotto said. The Quakers will be able to salivate over an Ivy League victory for an entire week, though, as Penn will not again be in action until they battle Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon up north in Hanover, N.H.Comments powered by Disqus
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