Never has a victory evoked so many mixed feelings.
The Penn women’s soccer team (11-1-4, 4-1-1 Ivy) hit the road to take on its conference rival Brown (8-6-1, 3-2-1), and the Quakers emerged victorious by a final score of 1-0 that ultimately mattered little since Harvard beat Dartmouth to clinch the Ivy League title.
Not winning the Ivy League championship is a tough pill to swallow for a Penn squad that has performed spectacularly at times, anchored by a lockdown defense.
“We all want to win the Ivy League, but if that’s the only reason why kids play and compete then they’re going to be disappointed a lot,” coach Darren Ambrose said. “It’s also about who they are as a team and their enjoyment of playing with each other.”
To the Quakers’ credit, they played with a resiliency that has been on display all year long. With their backs against the wall, the Red and Blue came out firing on Saturday night, with junior Haley Cooper scoring in the second minute of play off an assist from senior Brianna Rano.
The one goal would prove to be more than enough for Penn, as its defense took care of the rest — again. The defensive unit showed no cracks in its armor, holding the Bears off the scoreboard to earn Penn its seventh shutout in eight games.
“I thought we played as good soccer tonight as we’ve played all year,” Ambrose said. “We had a lot of combination play. We had our midfield players, who were just outstanding at how they controlled the tempo.”
Brown mounted some limited offensive attacks on the goal, but sophomore keeper Kalijah Terilli was up to the challenge, saving three shots to keep the Bears off the board and record another clean sheet. For the most part, however, the Penn defense gave Terilli a relatively stress-free night, only allowing seven total shots.
While it certainly hurts to see the Ivy League title slip away after so much success this season, the Quakers can still finish with the best overall record in the Ivy League with a win against Princeton next week. This team still has a lot to play for if it hopes to earn an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament, so while the loss of the Ivy League title was disappointing, Saturday’s win keeps the Quakers’ postseason hopes alive.
“I think this team is absolutely good enough to be in the NCAA tournament,” Ambrose said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it if anyone looks at the statistics and has watched us play.”
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