While you would be hard-pressed to call the Penn women's soccer squad a group of grizzled veterans, they're hardly the new kids on the block.
With a 2-0 record to start the year, the Quakers - who don't have a single senior on their roster - have relied on crafty shot-
making and solid play in goal to try to improve over last year's 8-5-3 finish.
After posting victories over Saint Louis and Robert Morris to start the year, the Quakers now look to this weekend, when they will face Michigan State and perennial rival St. Joseph's.
If Penn can come out with two wins, it will be the first time since 1998 that the Quakers started off 4-0.
The Spartans, who hail from the Big Ten, enter tonight's match with a 2-1 record. They are fresh off a win at home over Syracuse.
The Hawks are 1-1, after being outshot by Delaware 30-6 in their last contest. They fell hard to the Blue Hens, 7-0.
Penn coach Darren Ambrose hopes his players are ready to face a physical opponent when they step on the field this evening against the Spartans.
"Michigan State is in a really good conference," sophomore goalkeeper Cailly Carroll said. "It's going to be a big team - all the girls are going to be big."
"Michigan State are probably as athletic a team as we're going to see," Ambrose added. "They are probably going to give us our biggest test so far - I think they do a lot of things well."
As one of Ambrose's starters, Carroll, will not be able to help out. She has an 86 percent save percentage, but will miss the game with a forehead injury.
The Quakers may not have been able to get off to such a hot start without the added boost of this year's crop of freshmen. One key rookie contributor has been Kaitlin Campbell. Earning Ivy Rookie of the Week honors for her efforts, Campbell leads the team in assists with two.
"I didn't really think I would be in this position coming into this season," Campbell said. "It's just sort of a surprise for me, but I'm glad I'm in a position to do that."
Sophomore Jessica Fuccello, who leads the Quakers in goals (two) and shots on goal (five) has her own ideas on why her team has gotten off to such an auspicious start.
"Definitely fitness was one of the [reasons]," the Ivy League's Player of the Week said. "Last year we didn't come into the season as fit as we could've been, but this year we came in knowing we had to be fit [because we knew we were] playing a really tough schedule."
"We talked a lot in the spring about what it was going to take to be better," Ambrose said. "There were a lot of kids who needed to be fitter . The overall attitude and the belief they have in themselves has been a lot stronger than it has ever been."
Fuccello is also feeling bullish about the team this year. When asked about her opponents, she turned the conversation inward.
"I'm not really worried about the other teams," she said. "We just have to come out and we have to worry about ourselves, because I think if we play up to our ability, we could beat any team on our schedule."Comments powered by Disqus
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