This ain't no trip to Jiffy Lube. As the Penn men's soccer team (3-4, 0-2 Ivy) embarks on a two-week, three-game stretch against non-conference opponents -- beginning today against Lafayette at 3:30 p.m. at Rhodes Field -- one cannot help but think of the words "tune-up." Indeed, while the Quakers -- a team in search of consistency at the beginning of the season -- have displayed two strong efforts in a row, they are still looking for the ability to synchronize the two facets of their game -- a potent offense and a strong defense. Against Temple last Tuesday, Penn was able to do just that, but at Dartmouth on Saturday -- a 1-0 loss -- all it could muster was the latter half of the equation. Penn coach Rudy Fuller knows his team has yet to put it all together over a stretch of several games, even though he balks at dipping into the vocabulary of the auto maintenance industry when referring to the next three games. "I would hesitate to use the word Otune-up,'" Fuller said. "I think [the next three games are] an opportunity to get things rolling. We're a team right now that is still trying to play at a high level consistently, and we feel like we've put two good games back to back, and we want to put a third right next to those two." Against Lafayette, the Quakers have a good chance at that third strong game in a row. The Leopards are a sickly 1-7 on the year and have been outscored 15-4 in those eight games. But Lafayette's record might be a bit deceptive -- four of its seven losses have ended 1-0. Two of those 1-0 losses came at the hands of two of Penn's Ivy League foes -- Brown on September 8 and Yale on September 10. Both games were played at the Adidas Classic in Providence, R.I. Lafayette's lone win came at Easton, Pa., on September 23, in a 1-0 overtime triumph over Philadelphia University. The Leopards' leading scorer is freshman forward Jamie Mullarkey, who has one goal -- the winner in the victory over Philadelphia -- and two assists. Three other players have one goal apiece. "[Lafayette's skill level] is about average," Fuller said. "I don't think they have anybody outstanding, but I don't think they have many holes. I think they're a solid team." Fuller, however, thinks that Penn should emerge victorious tomorrow. "I would definitely think we would be favored to win," he said. "I hope our guys are going in with the right attitude." Penn's right attitude would probably include staying vigilant throughout the entire game. Eight of the goals that have been scored on Lafayette this season have come in the second halves of games, as opposed to seven in the first halves and overtimes of games. This suggests that if the Quakers can press well into the game tomorrow, they have an excellent shot at victory. With a win tomorrow, the Quakers would not only match their win total from last season -- four -- they would rise to the .500 mark, with a chance to rise above it presenting itself on Sunday, when they play La Salle.Comments powered by Disqus
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