The Penn women's soccer team was prepared to rally to another win yesterday, coming off a 2-1 league victory over Columbia. But their problems putting the ball in the net struck yet again, leaving them shut out by Loyola (Md.), 1-0. Penn coach Darren Ambrose did not foresee many problems going into the game. "When we stepped out, we stepped out playing aggressively, the way we played against Columbia," he said. But 12 minutes into the game, Loyola's Sarah Lindenman scored with a soft shot that bounced off of Penn goalkeeper Vanessa Scotto and into the net. "At that point, the wind was taken out of our sails," Ambrose said. That shot, from which Penn could not recover, was to be the only goal earned by either team on the afternoon. Despite the fact that the Quakers outshot the Greyhounds two-to-one and, by Ambrose's estimation, had possession 70 percent of the game, no one was able to put the ball in the goal. According to Penn sophomore Jennifer Valentine, who attempted one unsuccessful shot, it was incredibly frustrating for the team not to take advantage of any of its six opportunities to score. The low rate of shooting accuracy is the same story the Quakers have seen all year. As Ambrose sees it, Penn had the "spark" it has needed to go from just getting the ball across the face of the goal to get "that lucky bounce into the net," but it just didn't work out that way. Penn's inability to score was augmented by the uniquely difficult field conditions in Baltimore. On top of the fact that the grass was slick from rain, the field was only 68 yards wide, 10 yards narrower than Rhodes. Ambrose admitted that the lack of space had a negative impact on his team. The more pressing issue, however, was a leadership vacuum. Penn senior captain Kelli Toland was injured with a stress reaction on Saturday in the game against Columbia. Her presence was sorely missed on the field against the Greyhounds, not only because of her ability to quarterback the offense and to create scoring opportunities, but also because of her role as a verbal and emotional leader of the team. After Loyola scored in the first half, Penn was unable to recover mentally. According to Ambrose, no one filled in for Toland as the leader to boost the team's morale. This was the deciding factor that turned Lindenman's goal into the game-winner, when it might have been a temporary set back on another day. Quakers freshman Heather Issing, who had two fruitless shots on goal, also attributed the loss to the team's attitude. "I think we needed leadership on the field," she said. "We needed someone to step up and have the mentality to put the ball in the back of the net." Still, Ambrose is not pessimistic about the team's prospects this weekend at Yale. If anything, he believes that the Quakers will learn a lesson from the loss. "They didn't like the taste in their mouths at the end of this game," Ambrose said. "The challenge will be tough, but the response to adversity separates the good teams from the great teams." If yesterday's loss wasn't enough of a "wake-up call," as Issing put it, there is also the hope that a rested Toland will return to play against the Elis. Toland's emotional presence on the field, along with a team free from distractions such as injuries and midterms, are what Ambrose is counting on to pull his Quakers out of their low scoring rut as the season enters its stretch run.Comments powered by Disqus
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