Kelli Toland sat on the bench and watched helplessly as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The senior co-captain could only glance up at the scoreboard. Yale 4, Penn 2. It was the Penn women's soccer team's second consecutive road loss and the second straight game in which Toland saw her minutes severely limited due to a stress reaction in her right ankle. Penn's season was taking a turn for the worse, and there was not much that the Quakers' All-Ivy midfielder could do about it. "It's just disappointing that I can't be out there with them," Toland said. "It's frustating to watch and know that I can't be with my teammates." Toland will not see any action today when the Quakers (7-5-1) welcome Villanova to Rhodes Field at 3:30 p.m., with the hope that she will be able to return to the lineup when the Red and Blue host Brown on Saturday. "It feels better than it has," Toland said. "There are times when it really hurts, but I'm hoping to be ready for Brown." Toland's ankle injury, however, is not the only injury plaguing the Red and Blue currently. Senior midfielder Aidan Viggiano had to leave Saturday's game with a shin contusion, and senior co-captain Ashley Kjar and sophomore forward Heidi Nichols played through pain. "I hate excuses, but we have a lot of injuries," Penn assistant coach Michelyne Pinard said. "I don't know if anyone is 100 percent healthy. And when you're playing good teams like Yale, you need everyone to be healthy." The beaten-up Quakers will try to fight through those injuries when the Wildcats (10-8) come to Rhodes this afternoon. Only Toland will miss the game due to injury. "This is especially hard for Kelli because she is a senior," Pinard said. "This is one of her last games at Rhodes, and she won't be playing. "She is so committed to the team and the program. It's emotionally pretty tough for her right now." However, just because the senior leader is out of the lineup doesn't mean she stops performing her role as captain. "She still has an important impact on the team," said senior midfielder Angela Konstantaras, who has helped to fill the void in Toland's absence. "Even from the bench she provides an element of leadership. She's still very supportive and vocal." The Quakers will look to come out victorious today despite the loss of their captain. They will face a Villanova squad that is 10-8 on the season and 2-4 in Big East play. The Wildcats -- currently in sixth place in the Mid-Atlantic region of the Big East conference -- are coming off a two-game winning streak, but have played their last six games at home. Today's trip to West Philadelphia will be the first time the Wildcats have left the Main Line since October 1. Combine this with the Quakers' usually dominant play at Rhodes Field and it looks as if the Red and Blue have a distinct advantage. "[Villanova is] organized in the back and have a lot of speed," Pinard said. "It's going to be a battle." The Quakers will also look to remain perfect against Philadelphia-area schools. While little has gone right for the Red and Blue in Ancient Eight competition this year, Penn is undefeated against city rivals -- defeating both St. Joe's and Drexel in September. A win against Villanova today would give the Quakers a claim to regional bragging rights. "You always want to play well and beat close inner-town rivals," Pinard said. The bottom line for the Quakers is that the season is far from being over. No matter how disappointed the team is with its subpar league record, it will continue to play hard and try to run the table in its final four games. "Did we expect more from the season? Absolutely," Pinard said. "But we're hoping to finish off the season on a strong note and help build the program for the future."Comments powered by Disqus
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