For over three years, the Penn men's soccer team has wandered through a desert of Ivy winlessness. All the while, it has seen mirages of oases of Ivy, only to have them turn to sand and sift through its fingers. And before the Quakers can enter the land of milk and honey, they must first travel to and conquer the land of Skull and Bones. Tonight at 7 p.m., the Quakers will try their luck again in a match under the lights with Yale at the aptly named Yale Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium. If past trips to Yale -- which shares an identical 5-6-1 overall record with the Quakers but is 1-2 in the Ivies -- are any indication, Penn will have its hands full tonight. On the eve of Halloween last year, the Quakers travelled to the wilds of Connecticut, then had their hats handed to them in a 3-0 loss. Despite the daunting prospect of beating the Elis on their home field, junior Penn goalkeeper Jeff Groeber is keeping up his usual confident demeanor. "I remember playing there last year," he said. "It was a night game also, and they get a good crowd, and it's really hard playing there. I'm looking forward to going up there and having their fans being loud and yelling, and playing a good team at their home field at night. I'm really looking forward to that challenge." The Quakers are coming off of a disappointing 2-1 loss to Lehigh on Tuesday. The defeat, which came at Rhodes Field, snapped the Quakers' home unbeaten streak and gave the Red and Blue reason to get fired up. "I think the loss to Lehigh kind of woke us up a little bit," Groeber said. "We felt we were the better team, and we felt we should have won. It showed us we have to go out there and give a hard effort every game. I think it opened our eyes a little bit, and hopefully we'll go out [tonight] and respond against Yale, and come strong." It is difficult to imagine the Quakers not at least being competitive with the Elis tomorrow night. After all, Yale lost at Dartmouth by a score of 1-0, just as Penn did. But perhaps the most impressive wrinkle in the Elis' season is the fact that they travelled to Cornell on September 30 and beat them handily, 3-0. The Quakers, on the other hand, were embarrassed in Ithaca by the Big Red in their Ivy opener, 4-2. The Elis, who lost to Harvard last Saturday, have a balanced attack led by midfielder/forward Jay Alberts, who has three goals and two assists in 12 games. Alberts is also tied for the team lead in scoring in Ivy matches, notching a goal and two assists against Cornell, Dartmouth and Harvard. Midfielder Brian Lavin has two goals in Ivy play so far this season. Last year, Yale won the Ivy League championship and managed to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before having its season ended by intra-state rival UConn. While the Elis are not nearly as strong as they were last year, they are still a talented, dangerous team. Yet, Yale is weaker than it was last year, while the Quakers have clearly improved upon their 1999 counterparts -- suggesting that this year's contest will probably be closer than the 3-0, never-in-doubt game the two teams played last year. "I think Yale is doing pretty good this year," Groeber said. "I think they have a good squad. It's an Ivy League game, so it should be a really hard-fought game, a good game.... We're looking to go out there and just play a hard game, [and] most importantly, put together a full 90 minutes."Comments powered by Disqus
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