The Highlanders didn’t have a shot. Literally.
With nary a shot on goal, NJIT found itself the latest victim of the Penn women’s soccer team’s stifling defense.
Two Penn players scored their first goal of the season, and the team extended its winning streak to six games as the Quakers dismantled NJIT, 2-0.
Penn (10-1-3) has now outscored NJIT (6-10) by a margin of 14-0 through their last three meetings. The Red and Blue recorded their 11th shutout of the season, adding to a streak spanning over 600 minutes of game time that dates back to late September.
Even though the team is hitting its stride at a critical point in the season, coach Darren Ambrose says his group doesn’t buy into all the hype.
“We don’t make a big deal out of it,” he said. “We just go out and play each game on its merit. There’s no secret button or magic formula to this. Obviously, we’re so fortunate, and the girls have done a good job. We’re going to continue what we’ve been doing.”
In the 30th minute, sophomore midfielder Erin Mikolai scored her first goal of the season to put Penn ahead, 1-0. Mikolai would later assist on senior midfielder Laura Oliver’s tally, a booming kick from the top of the 18-yard box in the 50th minute. The score marked Oliver’s first goal and Mikolai’s third assist of the season, respectively.
Ambrose remarked on Mikolai’s improvement over the course of the season.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve seen it. Every little bit more in practice. Every game she’s gotten better and better,” Ambrose said.
“And I think she’s finally gained the realization; she’s got the confidence to really show a full range of her skills.
“Tonight’s goal was absolutely fantastic. [Mikolai] headed the ball home from eight, 10 yards or more, and she really powered it home,” Ambrose added.
Penn’s defense has been critical this season. While not only posting six straight shutouts, the team has allowed opponents just 95 shot attempts. After tonight, the Quakers have taken 191 shots.
Penn leads the nation in shutout percentage and is among the nation’s leaders for lowest goals against average. Sophomore goalkeeper Kalijah Terilli recorded her conference-leading eighth shutout of the year Tuesday.
Asked what the strategy is for keeping up the success heading into the final three games of the season, Ambrose kept it short and simple.
“Go out and be accountable for your own performance, work really hard for the girls next to you, and commit yourself to playing as well as you can. If we do that, we’re very difficult to beat.”
The Quakers currently sit alone at second place in the Ivy League behind only Harvard. The team will return home to face fourth-place Yale at Rhodes Field on Saturday at 5 p.m.
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