Darren Ambrose didn't see any reason to worry at halftime. Even with his team trailing 1-0 and his star midfielder hobbled with an ankle injury, the Penn women's soccer coach knew his Quakers (7-3-1, 2-2-0 Ivy League) would come back. And they did exactly that, notching two second-half goals to down the visiting Columbia Lions (3-7-2, 0-4-0), 2-1, on a sun-splashed Rhodes Field early Saturday afternoon. "This was a gut-check game," Ambrose said. "This was a character game. In the second half, we came out so fast and so fired up, [Columbia] didn't know what hit them. "I think we deserved the game. I think we're the better team, and we really came out to play." As they have been for the past several games, the Quakers offensively dominated the contest from the opening whistle, out-shooting the Lions, 16-4. It's just that for the first 45 minutes, Columbia midfielder Erica Woda was the only player on the field to score, knocking the ball off Penn goalie Katherine Hunt's hands and into the net in the 29th minute. In the second half, however, Quakers midfielder Angela Konstantaras and forward Heather Taylor each sent shots past Columbia goalie Janine Ierardi to secure the victory for Penn. "We had a slow start, but we definitely responded and came back really hard and played together as a team," Konstantaras said. "We had great defense, and we're starting to put away more of our opportunities." In addition to trailing at the half, however, the Quakers were also faced with the difficult situation of going on with a less-than-full-strength Kelli Toland. A first team All-Ivy midfielder and the Quakers' leading scorer, Toland left the game with 18 minutes and six seconds remaining in the first half. Toland, who has been suffering from a stress reaction in her right ankle, re-entered the game at the start of the second half but limped off to the sideline less than three minutes later. Ambrose said that he will try to get Toland as many minutes as possible in upcoming games, but noted that she has been playing through an incredible amount of pain recently. "She definitely makes a big impact every time she steps on the field, but at this point, we have great people that come off the bench," Konstantaras said. "They took the responsibility for themselves, and they definitely played a great game." In fact, throughout the entire game on Saturday, the Quakers put pressure on the Columbia goal, and they finally broke through when Konstantaras took a pass from Ashley Kjar, sped through the Lions defense and sent a rocket past Ierardi with 36:01 left in the half. Taylor then put the Quakers up when she deposited a cross from Aidan Viggiano into the net in the 79th minute. After Viggiano passed the ball, a scramble resulted before the net and Taylor nailed it home when Ierardi dropped the ball. "I kinda pushed her actually," Taylor said. "I pushed her and she dropped the ball, so I knocked it in." While the Quakers did emerge victorious on Saturday, they know they must still work on finishing off their scoring chances. Although Penn is 3-0-1 in its last four games and has outshot each of its opponents by wide margins, the Red and Blue have scored just four goals. In order to combat this problem before the Columbia game, Ambrose had his players concentrate on shooting in practice on both Thursday and Friday. Still, it is something on which the Quakers know they must improve. "It's something we're going to have to work on," Konstantaras said. "It's not going to come back all in one game. But I'll tell you what, it's improving every game and every practice. Hopefully by the time the next game comes, we'll get more." The Quakers will have the chance to increase their output this afternoon when they travel to Baltimore to take on Loyola (11-4).Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.