It was all going right for Penn women’s soccer. The Quakers had just beaten rival Princeton on Friday, 3-2, to give themselves a chance at an NCAA tournament at-large bid. Sitting at 12-1-4, the Red and Blue waited for the NCAA tournament selection committee’s decision on Monday afternoon, hopeful.
Then their hearts got broken.
The Quakers sat in front of a computer in their Hollenback Center locker room waiting to hear their name get called.
But they never did, learning that they hadn’t been awarded an NCAA at-large bid and that their season was over.
Instead, they heard the names of teams like Ohio State, Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Boston receive at-large bids.
The kicker? They all had RPI’s lower than Penn.
“Very, very sad. Very quiet,” coach Darren Ambrose said about the environment in the locker room following the selection. “You don’t ever know if you’re going to get called. We’ve had a great season, our RPI justifies us being there … tremendously disappointed for our players, our staff and our program.”
Penn had one of its best seasons ever. The Quakers boasted an overall RPI ranking of 43, going undefeated since Sept. 27. However, close calls against weaker teams like Old Dominion and Lehigh may have put the Red and Blue on the outside looking in.
“I think we had a couple of poor results against Lehigh and Old Dominion whose RPIs [were] very, very poor,” Ambrose said. “That’s the margin for error. I think that may have put us over the edge.”
Regardless, it was tough for Ambrose to watch one of the nation’s best defenses be denied postseason play.
“The disappointment stems from recent experiences in recent years and the way they selected teams in the past,” Ambrose said. “They took four teams below our RPI this year. That just blows my mind.”
The Quakers have fought hard all season long, proving time and time again that they were a resilient team while taking squads like Harvard to the breaking point. This year’s Red and Blue have a lot to be proud of, including 12 shutouts, a top-flight defense and only one loss on the season.
“I think I’m really proud of the girls for how they are going about what they do. They are a really bright and bold group of girls [who are] talented and respectful. Whenever we got behind, we found a way to respond,” Ambrose said. “We showed a lot of resiliency.
“I’m proud of them for who they are as people, for the staff, for the program.”
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