By Brian Finkel
Just don't lose.
A draw is all it will take for the women's soccer team to finally have the Ivy League title all to itself.
After clinching a share of the Ivy League championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA postseason with a win over Princeton last Saturday night, the Quakers prepare to wrap up their regular season slate tomorrow with a match at Harvard (10-5-1, 3-3-0 Ivy).
The Quakers (12-3-1, 5-1) are proud of the fact that they have captured a share of the Ancient Eight crown and secured an NCAA bid, but this is not a team that is prone to resting on its laurels.
Penn coach Darren Ambrose knows that the Red and Blue will be fired up and ready when they face the Crimson tomorrow.
"They're all very, very competitive kids," he said. "They've achieved an incredible amount, but there's still the icing on the cake. Ultimately, if you're going to win the league, you want to win it outright."
Sophomore forward Jessica Fuccello, who leads the team in goals with 10, knows her squad could become the first group of Quakers to do just that. They shared the honors with Dartmouth in 2001.
"We definitely do not want to share the title," she said. "I think it's going to motivate us a lot to keep our momentum going."
As the Quakers get set to face Harvard and as they look ahead to the uncharted waters of the NCAAs, they will seek steady leadership from some of their seasoned veterans. Ambrose knows exactly who he expects to step up.
"The same as we've done all year, [we're going to look to] Natalie Capuano and Eileen Larkin - they've been fantastic," he said.
Tomorrow's game promises to be a challenge. The Crimson, who defeated the Quakers last year by a 2-1 margin, return goalie Lauren Mann, who has nine shutouts in 15 games. Harvard will also bring freshman standout Katherine Sheeleigh, who leads her team in goals with eight.
Ambrose is ready for a battle.
"They're a good team," he said. "I have a lot of respect for them - I always have.
"And they've got good players."
Despite early injuries to several key players, Ambrose stressed that the players who have started the season are all healthy now - when it matters most.
"No one's in a cast, no one's out for the season, no one's out for the next game," Ambrose said. "There's no single major injury right now."
With health on its side, Penn is poised to cement its status as the lone Ivy champ.
And don't question the Quakers' excitement.
"It's probably one of the best feelings . ever," Fuccello said.Comments powered by Disqus
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