So much for odds. Neither rain, nor sprain, nor dreaded artificial turf could prevent the Penn women's soccer team from delivering the the 2000 ECAC Championship. The Quakers (10-8-1), who had long been hampered by injuries and were forced to battle the elements on an unfamiliar surface, still emerged victorious from the four-squad tournament this past weekend. This was the second time in four years that the Red and Blue have captured the ECAC crown. "It's great to win a tournament," Penn coach Darren Ambrose said. "It's given us a great way to end the season, not just on a winning note, but with the way we played." Penn, the No. 2 seed in the four-team invitational event, won the championship by defeating host Northeastern (11-6), 3-1, on Saturday and top-seeded St. John's (11-8) in a 1-0 shutout yesterday in Boston. In what can be understandably labeled as an up-and-down season, the Red and Blue ended their 2000 campaign with a sweet taste in their mouths. That might not have been obvious at the outset, though. The first 30 minutes of Saturday afternoon's game featured some tense moments for the Quakers. Penn jumped out to an early lead courtesy of a Heather Issing goal just 2:15 into the match, but Ambrose saw his team falter a bit in the first half and head into the break knotted at one. "We lacked a little desire and I challenged some individuals," he said. "We came out and absolutely dominated the second half." It was apparently a couple of freshmen who were most stirred by their coach's halftime speech, as two first-year players connected on the Quakers' second goal, which was recorded in the 54th minute of play. Anne Laughlin scored her first-ever collegiate goal with an assist from fellow freshman Ashley Glaubach. Fittingly, it was senior co-captain Kelli Toland who made Penn history in notching an important insurance goal. Toland put away a pass from sophomore Heather Taylor, as the two combined on a two-on-one break. The score gave Toland 60 career points, nudging her past Jill Callaghan's 59 in the record books for second place in school history. Meanwhile, before Penn stepped onto the damp turf of Parsons Field, the St. John's Red Storm had also won in convincing fashion, blanking Lafayette, 3-0. That set the stage for a clash of the top two seeds at 1 p.m. yesterday. Penn prevailed, making a second-half goal from tournament MVP Angela Konstantaras stand. "At times this year, she was unstoppable," Ambrose said. "She scored one [yesterday] and created another six or seven chances in the two games." Konstantaras saw this title as a sort of vindication for some missed opportunities during the regular season, and the weekend was especially sweet to her. "I'm elated by it," the senior said. "It's definitely a great way to end my career at Penn." Ambrose agreed that this was special for the five Penn seniors -- although Aidan Viggiano did not make the trip due to injury -- and he indicated that some of the burden had been lifted off of his team's shoulders. "It takes away a little bit of the sting of not challenging for the Ivies at the end," he said. Ambrose believed that if his squad hadn't been invited to the ECACs, then his team would have been the best 8-8 team in the nation. "I think this weekend provided us with a great opportunity," Konstantaras said. "I wanted to leave it all on the field." The question for Penn's seniors now is how long it is before ecstasy morphs into reminiscing. How long before the finality of this all sets in? "I don't think it's hit us yet," Konstantaras said. "This has been the best four years of my life." Without this weekend, the Quakers would have had to stomach a heartwrenching 1-0 loss to Princeton heading into the offseason. Now, the Red and Blue can reflect back on 2000 as the year that they were ECAC champions.Comments powered by Disqus
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