Sometimes in sports — and in life — everything falls in to place as if it were meant to be.
For Penn women’s soccer, Saturday afternoon at Princeton just so happened to be that time.
After a season of ups and down, the Quakers left their heart and soul on the field against their biggest rival, defeating the Tigers, 3-2, in one of the most thrilling and emotional matches of the season.
Early on, the Red and Blue (8-5-3, 3-3-1 Ivy) looked to their seniors to lead the way as they played in the final match of their collegiate careers. And lead the way they did.
In the 11th minute of the match, senior forward Clara Midgley redirected a ball to the back of the net off a cross from freshman forward Juliana Provini. The Quakers extended their lead when senior midfielder Kaitlyn Moore headed a ball past the diving goalie off a corner kick from junior midfielder Erin Mikolai.
Despite a 2-0 lead at half, coach Darren Ambrose knew there was still a lot of game to be played.
“We knew at halftime that it wasn’t over,” he said. “Princeton is too talented. They have got too many attacking players. We figured we would see more from them, and we did.”
Princeton (7-6-3, 3-3-1) came back with a vengeance, scoring a goal just three minutes into the second half. They maintained possession for the majority of remaining play, launching shot after shot — 16 in the half — at junior goalkeeper Kalijah Terilli. The Tigers were able to cut into the lead early in the half.
Terilli had a strong performance though, including a few leaping saves that kept the Quakers in the match.
However, with Penn holding a 2-1 lead with less than five minutes remaining, Princeton’s Beth Stella sent a ball off the crossbar, which bounced down in to the goal, tying the game at two.
But Penn was not looking to play overtime. With less than two minutes remaining, Terilli punted the ball downfield where the Red and the Blue gained possession and quickly moved towards the goal. Sophomore midfielder Lindsey Sawczuk passed the ball to Midgley, who sent a left-footed shot rolling past the diving Princeton goalie in heroic fashion. Midgley was then mobbed and tackled on the field by a swarm of excited teammates.
Ambrose could not have been more proud of his team.
“This is what we have been waiting for from this team for so long — to see some maturity, to see some fight, some consistency,” he said. “And I’m really proud of them because they showed what they can do when they really decide to battle. It takes a special game like this. It is a great place to play, and it’s a fantastic rivalry.”
The Quakers had not won on Princeton’s field since 1998, before Ambrose took the coaching position.
“I am absolutely ecstatic for them,” Ambrose said of his seniors. “They have been great servants to the program. As a coach, you want them to leave with great moments and great memories and what a way to finish your career at your archrival. All the girls have given so much.”
An emotional Midgley echoed these sentiments, saying that being able to see the team grow this season has meant “everything” to her.
“It has been so much fun to play with these girls,” she said. “And today, we came out and fought hard. Everyone put their heart and soul in to this game, and I am so happy that this could be the last game for me and my class.”
Next year may have some similar excitement, but for the seniors, this victory against Princeton seemed to be the perfect culmination to their four years on the team.Comments powered by Disqus
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