For most living things, symmetry is biologically preferable. For the seniors of the Penn men's soccer team -- and ultimately, for the entire Penn men's soccer program -- symmetry is critical. Over three years ago, on September 13, 1997, the Quakers beat Harvard, 1-0. It was the first Ivy League match for Penn's current seniors. The Quakers have not won an Ivy match since that day. Now, with their final collegiate game staring them in their faces, Penn seniors Henry Chen, Mike McElwain and Austin Deng hope that their careers will bookend themselves. With a win against Harvard tomorrow at Rhodes Field, Penn's elder statesmen, having experienced no other Ancient Eight success, will have begun their careers and ended their careers with victories over the Crimson. Considering that Harvard has been almost as shaky in league play as Penn has been this year, the Quakers think they have an excellent shot to knock off the men in dark red. "There's no doubt in my mind that we're going to beat Harvard on Saturday," said McElwain, who actually didn't make the trip in 1997 when Penn last won an Ivy match. Harvard is 7-8-1 overall and 1-5 in the Ivies. Its only Ivy win this year came at the expense of Yale, the team that embarrassed Penn to the tune of 6-0. But it must be noted that the Crimson were able to defeat their ancient rivals at home in Boston, whereas Yale trounced the Quakers in New Haven, Conn. "They're very similar to us," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said of Harvard and the season it is experiencing. "Both teams are bottom-heavy, which means that they are heavily weighted towards the freshman and sophomore class. Both teams are trying to get themselves back in position to contend for an Ivy League title, so I'm expecting a pretty good game." Further, Penn's home-field advantage on Saturday afternoon should be augmented by a raucous, vociferous Homecoming crowd. "Homecoming weekend should be a great crowd," Fuller said. "[It] sounds like it's going to be a good day. It's an Ivy League game, [and we] are going to be up to begin with. But when you throw in what a great weekend it's going to be, and what a big game it's going to be, I would expect [us] to come out flying." McElwain put it more succinctly. "We're definitely going to be playing our hardest," he said. "If we can't win on Saturday, when are we going to win?" On the field, Harvard is helmed by senior captain and forward Ryan Kelly, who leads the team with 15 points -- five goals and five assists -- and scored the Crimsons' only goal in a 2-1 loss to Columbia last weekend on a penalty kick. Kelly has also been named to the weekly Ivy League honor roll numerous times this season. Crimson goalkeeper Dan Mejias is eighth in the Ivy League in goals against average with a mark of 1.36, besting Penn goalkeeper Jeff Groeber's 2.37. Last year, during Penn's season finale at Harvard on November 13, the Crimson jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Quakers roared back and took a 3-2 advantage. But Harvard scored twice in the final 20 minutes, sending Penn back to Philadelphia with a 4-3 loss. A win tomorrow would bolster what has been a disappointing year for the Quakers and send the program into the netherworld of the offseason on a positive note -- something critical to a program that looks to make a big leap next year. "I'd like to get a 'W,'" Fuller said. "It would be a great way to send our seniors off and a great way to end our season. I think there's a lot to play for. "Our guys certainly were expecting to do better this year. I think they feel like they have something to prove." "I think it's time for us to win an Ivy game," McElwain added. "Everyone just wants to go out and end it with a win."Comments powered by Disqus
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