After a 2-0 blanking of Cornell Saturday at Rhodes Field, the Penn women's soccer team has now kept its opponents off the scoreboard in five of the team's six wins.
Obviously, the recipe for success that coach Darren Ambrose has whipped up is yielding great results.
His formula has an "attacking by defending" approach that calls for a large dose of a bend-but-don't-break defense, held together by the superb netminding of sophomore goalkeeper Vanessa Scotto.
The Quakers (6-1-1) followed this portion of the recipe almost step-by-step en route to last weekend's win over the Big Red, as although Cornell threatened to score several times, the Red and Blue defense did not crack.
"[The defense] has come a long way from the beginning of the season," Penn junior defender Jen Valentine said. "The more we play together, the more comfortable we are, and Vanessa has done a great job of stepping it up."
Of course, a key ingredient to any team's success is offensive punch, which has been aptly supplied by the Penn freshmen this season, with the offensive prowess of Katy Cross and Rachelle Snyder being staples in the recipe for every Quakers win.
At halftime though, this vital element was missing, as Penn failed to put one in the net and went into the half in a scoreless tie.
Eventually, the key offensive ingredient was provided. This time, though, the essential dose of offense was added by a different source than usual -- juniors Heather Taylor and Jen Valentine.
The Quakers' formerly silent upperclassmen, at least in terms of offensive production, made some noise on Saturday.
Taylor and Valentine not only scored their first goals of the season, but earned the first tallies for any Penn upperclassmen this year.
"It was awesome to spread it around like that," Taylor said. "I've been really frustrated, so it was great to finally have the ball cross the line."
Still, freshman phenoms Snyder and Cross definitely made their presence felt. Snyder put pressure on the Cornell defense all day with her speed and Cross gave the Big Red's back line fits with her excellent ball control and precision passing.
In fact, it was Cross's perfect through-ball to the streaking Taylor that led to the junior's game-winner with 38:18 left.
Ambrose had a hand in this goal, making a sage halftime decision to take advantage of Cross's ball control skills -- he took her off the front line and moved her to the midfield so she could get more touches.
"We weren't able to run in the first half and she is so dangerous when she is running, so we wanted to get the ball to her feet so she could make things happen for us," Ambrose said.
And it was Snyder's one-on-one confrontation with Cornell goalie Katie Thomas that led to the penalty kick that Valentine cashed in for an insurance goal with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Still, the Quakers' veterans realized the significance of securing the first Ivy win of the season and made sure they directly contributed to that end.
"The upperclassmen rise to the challenge in Ivy competition and set the example," Ambrose said. "And the freshmen are learning from that."Comments powered by Disqus
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