For Penn women’s soccer’s Lauren Hammond, this weekend was an opportunity more than a year in the making.
Hammond was slated to start the first game of her college career in the Quakers’ season opener of 2012. Her fortunes changed suddenly, however, when she tore her ACL the day before the match.
This weekend, starting center backs Claire Walker and Tahirih Nesmith didn’t play due to injuries of their own, and juniors Hammond and Haley Cooper filled their spots in the back line as Hammond finally made her first collegiate start.
Behind their leadership, the Quakers delivered two shutouts at home, staving off a surging Cornell squad Friday night, 1-0, before routing Farleigh Dickinson 4-0 Sunday afternoon.
The victories snapped a four-game winless streak, which included a loss to Harvard on the road. By defeating the Big Red (7-3-1, 1-1 Ivy), Penn (6-1-3, 1-1) kept its Ivy title hopes alive, since no squad has won the Ivy League with multiple conference losses in the past five seasons.
The Quakers owe the weekend’s defensive efforts to the depth and continuity of their bench, which seamlessly handled the stress of injuries to two key defenders.
And with 1:36 left in the first half, the Quakers caught a break when a Big Red defender was whistled for a handball in the penalty box.
Senior forward Kerry Scalora put the penalty shot away with ease, and Penn entered halftime with a 1-0 lead. For the sixth time this season, one goal would be all the Quakers needed to notch a win.
That said, a much-improved Cornell squad played Penn nearly even in virtually every statistical category, narrowly edging out the Red and Blue in shots eight to seven and corners five to four. Ultimately, one handball, a penalty shot and home-field advantage made the difference between two well-matched squads.
“We don’t lose at home. That’s something we always stand for as a staple in our program,” Hammond said.
Penn followed its performance against the Big Red by putting on a show for the Family Weekend home crowd against an overmatched Farleigh Dickinson (5-6-1) squad.
The Quakers first broke through in the 26th minute when Barth lost her defender on the left side and sent the ball across the box. Junior forward Clara Midgley met the cross at the far post and slammed a volley past the goalkeeper for her first goal of the season.
Sixteen minutes later, Shannon Hennessey followed suit when she converted a cross by Rano and logged the first goal of her Penn career, giving the Quakers a two-goal lead going into the half.
The Red and Blue continued the offensive exhibition in the second half, as freshman Lindsey Sawczuk delivered a pass over the top of the Knights to a streaking Megan York, who scored for the second time this season and became just the second Penn player to record multiple goals on the year.
In a final display of offensive prowess, sophomore Elissa Berdini put it away on the far post, bringing the Penn lead to 4-0.
The performance was encouraging at both ends of the field for Penn, coming off of a two-week span that included a loss and three ties after starting out the season with four consecutive wins.
“Being dominant isn’t enough. You still have to focus. You still have to assert yourselves in order to win a game,” Ambrose said. “You can’t just show up and go through the motions.”
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