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Midfielder Sarah Friedman (8) dribbles the ball past her marker, Erin Hardiman (2). The Quakers, who were 2-0 up at one stage in the game, eventually lost 2-3 to the visitors at Rhodes Field. Credit: Alvin Loke

The veterans of the women's soccer team may be feeling a little lopsided these days.

Their current record of 6-3-1 is nearly identical to last year's mark at this point in the schedule. But unlike 2007 - the Ivy Championship season - when Penn began 3-1-1, the Quakers stumbled out of the gates in 2008, losing three of their first five, but now they're finding a winning rhythm.

Penn was extremely successful last fall in pre-league games, counting their misstep against Michigan State, 0-1, as the more startling of their two losses. The offense was deep and the margins were wide as the Quakers creamed St. Joe's 6-0 and Loyola-Chicago 5-1. Their Ivy schedule was tainted only by a late loss to Brown.

With the Quakers returning all of their starters from last season, it may seem surprising that the team started off a bit shakier, looking a little less sure of themselves. Penn opened 2008 with a tough loss to Pitt, followed later by two heartbreaking defeats to Villanova and Richmond. Before Ivy play opened, the Quakers were just breaking even with a 3-3-1 record.

However, Coach Darren Ambrose's team has caught up, closing out Saturday's league match with a 6-0 decimation of Cornell and extending its win streak to four.

Late season start concerning the Ivy title defenders? Maybe. But there's reason to every record, and Penn's late start may just catapult them through the remainder of their schedule, and here's why:

Young blood. Sure, no seniors graduated from a championship team, but that's no reason to overlook how Coach Darren Ambrose has been utilizing his new recruits. The Class of 2012 has finally started to get into a groove, and it's not looking back.

Not only has he been giving freshmen ample opportunities for field time, Ambrose has been fitting them into the team fabric well enough so they can score - again and again and again.

Freshmen have accounted for 11 of the Quakers' 26 goals this season, spread out between Ursula Lopez-Palm, Sarah Friedman, Marin McDermott and Theresa Yankovich.

With last year's top scorers juniors Jess Rothenberger and Jessica Fuccello out early in the season due to injury, Ambrose has given his top recruiting class a chance to step up and win games. Lopez-Palm and Friedman have also been racking up the assists, enabling the experienced veterans to get in scoring position.

Take a Fried ride. Speaking of young blood - freshman Sarah Friedman has emerged as Penn's star player, recently breaking Penn's single-season assist record against Cornell on Saturday.

Though she deems herself a "passer" more than a scorer, Friedman has made the stat sheet for both goals and assists, leading the Quakers with 19 points.

Her success has not been confined to the Penn squad, however. Her 11 assists lead the league, as well as her 1.90 points-per-game.

Going the limit. Ambrose has often commented on how his girls have needed to start playing the "full 90 minutes" of each game, and recently, they haven't been taking their foot off the gas.

The halves have looked less askew as Penn has begun to come out hard in the last 45 minutes. Against St. Joe's, the Quakers insured their two first-half points by following them up with another two in the second, and they stepped it up even more for the Big Red as they knocked in four after intermission. Their improved balance has given them an unbeaten Ivy record, and if they can keep it up, greater confidence against the remainder of conference play.

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