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Mens' Soccer v Yale Credit: Michelle Bigony

The Penn men’s soccer team is hoping competition will breed success as the team tries to solve its keeper controversy. Coach Rudy Fuller has recently been rotating freshman Garon Smith in with junior incumbent Ben Berg, who started the first 10 games of the season.

“We have two goalies that are capable of starting in Ben and Garon,” Fuller said. “I think Garon’s come in and taken advantage of the opportunity and Ben’s waiting patiently for his next opportunity.”

While Berg is certainly still in the mix, Saturday marked Smith’s third straight Ivy start, interrupted only by a non-conference game at American.

Smith surely helped make a case for himself Saturday, as he recorded his first collegiate shutout. He made several huge stops against some talented Yale forwards, totaling four saves on the day.

“I’m always looking forward to helping the team in any way I can,” Smith said. “I’m very thankful to finally get a shot [at starting] and I’m feeling very confident in my game play.”

You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. One way Penn will be able to take pressure off whoever resides in goal is by scoring early and often.

The Quakers have struggled offensively as of late, and before Saturday’s victory they had been outshot badly in their previous three games against Columbia (13-9), American (18-13), and Dartmouth (8-3).

Penn did seem to turn a corner this weekend however, as it ended the losing skid against Yale in large part by keeping the ball at the feet of the offense, which peppered the Bulldogs’ goalie with 12 shots (to Yale’s seven).

“Our guys wanted to set the record straight,” said Fuller. “I thought the guys did well looking to get something on goal.”

While the Red and Blue did put up a lot more shots against Yale, they will need to start capitalizing on their opportunities, as they have scored just three goals in their last four games.

Fuller will lean strongly on top scorers Christian Barreiro and Alex Takakuwa to get the attack rolling. Michael Kozak and Louka Tasigianis led the team in shots taken against Yale.

It will be up to the offense leaders to put some points up on the scoreboard in the final three games — all against Ivy teams — of their season.

On the road again. Two of those three games will be away from the friendly confines of Rhodes Field, and to make a strong run for the league title, the Quakers must overcome their road woes.

While it remains tough at home (4-2-1), Penn has seemed extremely vulnerable when traveling (1-4-2).

“We’ve got to come to compete every day, in training and in games,” said Fuller. “We keep telling the guys that every time they do that, good things happen.”

The Quakers have only been tested on the road once during their 2009 Ivy season, and they responded with a 1-0 loss to Columbia on Oct. 10.

If Penn has any hope of repeating its Ivy title, that trend will have to change come Sunday in Providence, R.I. The current League-leader Brown has outscored opponents by a margin of 25-12. Penn will have to come ready to face a strong Brown offense.

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