There were 10 minutes remaining in the game and things looked bleak for the Penn women's soccer team. The Quakers were in the midst of playing one of their worst games of the season, unable to score a goal against a clearly inferior opponent in American University. To make matters worse, senior co-captain midfielder Kelli Toland was sidelined for a good portion of the game with a stress fracture in her right ankle -- the first time she had watched from the bench all season. But midway through the second half, Toland was called into the game to do one job and one job only -- to lead her team to victory. She did exactly that, as Penn walked away with a 1-0 victory. Almost as soon as she stepped onto the field, Toland received a pass from fellow senior and co-captain Ashley Kjar and broke away toward the goal. Fighting the pain in her ankle, she fired a shot under American goalkeeper Jackie Sierodzinski and into the net. "I just feel good to be able to help my team win," Toland said. "No matter who scored, it just feels good to be able to walk away from the game with a win." It took 80 minutes, but the Quakers were finally able to get on the scoreboard. Immediately after breaking the scoreless deadlock, Toland limped to the sideline. Her teammates took care of the rest, shutting down the Eagles for the final 10 minutes just as they had done all game. Toland had done her job. She had done what she was called to do. "That's why she's the captain," senior midfielder Angela Konstantaras said. "We needed someone to step up and she took that responsibility." "She did her job as a captain," Penn coach Darren Ambrose said simply. The victory improved the Quakers to 6-3-1 on the season, while boosting their Rhodes Field record to 3-1. But despite the victory, the game left a bad taste in the mouth of many of the Quakers. "It was absolutely ugly," Ambrose said bluntly. "We went from playing one of the best games of the year to possibly the worst." Yesterday's game, however, was quite similar to the 0-0 draw at Navy on Sunday in that Penn showed offensive control of both games from start to finish. In yesterday's victory, the Quakers outshot the Eagles by a staggering margin of 21-2. But Ambrose was quick to point out that the shots were not dangerous and that the team should have been able to put more goals on the scoreboard. "We're not committed enough in front of the goal," Ambrose said. "We're incredibly frustrated right now -- we can't continue to go through games and play the way that we are playing." Like their coach, the rest of the Quakers were also disappointed with the way they played. "I'm happy with the win, but the game showed us the things that we have to work on, mainly finishing once we're in the box," Toland said. Konstantaras was quick to point out what she thought the problems were. "We were all playing our own individual games and we were a little sluggish, not at all in sync with each other," she said. "It was all a mental breakdown -- we weren't ready to play." The Quakers realize that if they play the same way as they did yesterday, they cannot expect an easy win this weekend in a Rhodes Field battle against Ivy rival Columbia. But Penn is hoping to bounce back and even its Ancient Eight record to 2-2 against a Columbia team that is currently 0-3 and sitting alone in the Ivy League basement. Despite the Lions' record, the Quakers realize that every Ivy League game is a battle. "Columbia is always a tough game," Toland said. "They're aggressive and fast. We're just gonna have to match them." And to match the Lions, the Quakers know that they have to put up a better performance than yesterday's game. "We need to show up ready to play," Konstantaras said. "We can't lose anymore -- today was definitely a wake-up call."Comments powered by Disqus
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