Coach Rudy Fuller couldn’t have asked for much more from his team through the opening weekend of the season.
Two wins and two shutouts helped the Quakers neutralize the Stony Brook attack to record a 2-0 win to open the season on Friday capping off the weekend with a dominating 5-0 victory over Sacred Heart at Penn Park on Sunday.
“It’s good for the guys to get rewarded – for the returning players for what they’ve put in the last nine months, the new players for what they’ve stepped into and done since they’ve been here,” Fuller said.
After not recording a shutout since the fall of 2011, two clean sheets in the first two games of the season show how far the defense has come in improving their game.
“I said to the guys, the most important thing was the shutout,” Fuller said after Friday’s game. “Last year we were uncharacteristically poor defensively, and so it was good to lay down a marker and get that first shutout.”
Against Stony Brook on Friday, it looked like the teams would go into halftime with the score at 0-0. But an impressive play from junior Louis Schott changed that.
After a half-clearance from the Stony Brook defense on a corner kick, the ball made its way to Schott’s feet at the edge of the box. Schott created some space and unleashed a shot which found the back of the net to give Penn the lead.
“Jonny [Dolezal] yelled at me to take two touches but I decided not to,” Schott said. “I just hit it and it went in.”
Following the halftime break, junior Jason DeFaria netted a header goal in the 52nd minute.
The Red and Blue controlled the rest of the game to seal a comfortable victory and the first clean sheet since 2011.
“As long as we got shutouts we knew we had a chance and the goals would come, so that was our main focus and I’m ecstatic that we started off on a good foot like this,” DeFaria said.
On Sunday, it was deja vu for Schott, who opened the scoring in Friday’s game with a shot from just outside the box. Against Sacred Heart, the center midfielder scored a spectacular volley from the top of the box in the 10th minute to get the Quakers started.
Freshman Alec Neumann then followed with the first two goals of his collegiate career – and they couldn’t have been more different in the way they were created.
The striker’s first involved a beautiful combination play in the 26th minute from the Red and Blue, as senior Stephen Baker found some space on the right wing, crossed it across the goal to senior Alex Reddy, who then unselfishly passed it back in front of the goal for Neumann to easily slot home.
“Coming in as a freshman you just want to get the monkey off your back by scoring and hopefully it just keeps coming from there,” Neumann said. “And as a team we are playing well.”
Neumann’s second came near the end of the first half, blocking a sloppy clearance from the Sacred Heart goalkeeper. The ball fell right to Neumann with an open goal in front of him and he applied the finish.
With a 3-0 lead at halftime, Fuller gave some of the younger players more experience moving forward.
“The younger guys certainly got a number of minutes this weekend which is good because we’re going to need them,” Fuller said. “We feel we are a deep team but in order to really be a deep team you have to get guys experienced.”
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