A final push for the NCAA Tournament might have come up short for the Penn women's soccer team, but the Quakers will be playing in the postseason for the third time in four years anyway. The Quakers (8-8-1) were rewarded for their respectable efforts during the 2000 season with a berth in the considerably smaller ECAC Tournament. Penn, as the No. 2 seed in the four-team playoff, will take on Northeastern (11-6-1) tomorrow at 2 p.m. on Sweeney Field in Boston. In the other matchup, top-seeded St. John's will battle three seed Lafayette. The two winners tomorrow will play for the ECAC championship on Sunday. "Any postseason's better than no postseason," Penn junior Sabrina Fenton said. Last week saw the Red and Blue's emotions range from ecstasy to disillusionment. Penn disposed of Lehigh in the final game of the year at Rhodes Field by a score of 5-0. The Quakers then lost, 1-0, three days later at Princeton to conclude their regular season. The games held special sentimental importance to the five Penn seniors. Unsure whether the loss against the Tigers might be their last match ever, these Quakers in particular were assuaged by a Monday evening phone call from the ECAC selection committee. "Whether you deserve it or not, you always feel fortunate to get in," said Fenton, who pointed to the fact that Brown, the Ivy League's third-place team, was surprisingly denied a spot in the NCAAs. "This is a great opportunity for us," sophomore defender Leigh Castergine said. "Everyone's looking to end the season on a high note." The Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., native will not be making the trip up to Boston later today, though. She, as well as five other Quakers, will have to remain at home due to either sickness or injury. Castergine has been ill for the past few games, and though her condition has improved significantly of late, she was prevented from playing in about half of Penn's games. She contends that this is the time of year, though, in which minor injuries, sickness and downright lethargy must be combatted. "We've been working out since the second week of August," she said, underscoring her team's undying commitment. "A few girls are still sick, but they're pushing for it." One of those athletes who is still recovering from an injury, but will undoubtedly play tomorrow, is Penn's senior co-captain Kelli Toland. Toland suffered a stress reaction in her ankle earlier this season, forcing her to miss a couple of crucial contests. An ECAC championship this weekend, however, will not be the only accomplishment within the star midfielder's grasp. Toland currently has notched 58 career points in a Penn uniform. One more either tomorrow or Sunday -- if the Quakers should advance -- would mean tying Jill Callaghan, who graduated in May, to become the second-leading scorer in Penn history. Callaghan's twin sister, Andrea, owns the all-time Penn mark with 68 points. Whether or not Toland achieves such a distinction in her final weekend with Penn, however, she has already been bestowed with a league honor. The senior, along with junior defender Sarah Campbell, was named to the All-Ivy second team. Midfielder Angela Konstantaras and co-captain defender Ashley Kjar, both seniors, received honorable mentions. "I'm very proud of them for getting the recognition they really deserve," Fenton said. Northeastern will present several new challenges to young and old alike tomorrow. The first will be detectable the second the game begins. The Huskies play on the artificial turf of Sweeney Field, a playing surface uncommon to most of the Quakers, who prepared for this anomaly by practicing last night on the turf of Franklin Field. Also, Northeastern plays what is almost soccer's version of the loathed neutral zone trap, as it's known in the NHL. Unlike many of Penn's opponents this year, the Huskies are not particularly quick, and they rely on a possession game that involves deep kicks from midfield and trying to draw the opposition offsides. The Red and Blue are confident entering the tournament and know that this can be a terrific way to cap off their year. "I definitely think that this is winnable," Fenton said. "It's going to be a really good way to say goodbye to the seniors."Comments powered by Disqus
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