An old saying asks: “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?”
The answer may never be truly known, but it probably looks something like Penn women’s soccer’s epic battle against Navy.
The Quakers (8-1-3) sunk the Midshipmen (12-3-0) in Maryland on Monday in overtime, 1-0, — thanks to a dramatic penalty kick from senior Kerry Scalora — and earn the program its 200th win.
Though Navy had come in with a red-hot offense, having won its previous 10 matches by a combined score of 22-3, the Quakers’ trademark defense stifled the Midshipmen’s attack.
Neither team was able to take complete control of the game in the beginning, with the biggest early threat coming during a brief flurry of four Navy shots midway through the first half that all skittered away wide of the target.
Even though the Red and Blue were outshot 7-3 in the first half, Penn junior forward Megan York came close to putting the ball in the back of the net. But her 33rd-minute header banged off the post and the teams went to halftime scoreless.
The Midshipmen turned loose another offensive flurry in the second half, outshooting the Quakers, 8-3. Penn sophomore goalkeeper Kalijah Terilli turned away all challenges, though, to force the extra session.
Playing in their fifth overtime game this season, the Quakers came out firing. Only two minutes into the extra session, Navy was called for a handball in the box, allowing the captain to line up for the fateful penalty kick.
With the game riding on her foot, Scalora calmly slotted the shot past Navy keeper Elizabeth Hoerner to give the Quakers a hard-fought victory.
“I’ve been in that situation before with Cornell, so I took the same exact mindset,” Scalora said. “Thankfully, it came off and I just knew that being captain, I [had] to rise to the occasion to represent my team and make sure that ball went in the back of the net, and it did.”
Coming off an ugly 1-0 triumph over Columbia in Ivy League play on Saturday, in which the only score was a Lions own goal, the Quakers had little turnaround time before they faced the well-rested Midshipmen.
However, coach Darren Ambrose’s squad was more than ready for the challenge, using its grit and tenacity to weather Navy’s storm.
“We played Navy on one day’s rest less than they did,” he said.
“That was another challenge for us to overcome. And we went deep into our bench again today. We were able to stretch our athleticism.”
With the win, the Red and Blue have now won four matches in a row after suffering a four-match winless streak earlier in the season.
But those early struggles are far behind in Penn’s rearview mirror, which is all set to take today’s non-conference win and use it to build on Ivy success.
“I think [this win built] our confidence,” Scalora said.
“And it shows that when we’re all playing our best and working as a team how powerful we are.”
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