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Credit: Thomas Munson , Thomas Munson

As the old saying goes, two’s company, three’s a crowd, four’s too many.

But for coach Rudy Fuller and Penn men’s soccer, four might actually be the magic number.

Only two games into the 2015 season, it’s clear the Quakers have four legitimate options for the goalkeeping position, at least in the team’s eyes. But only time will tell if four is truly too many or a blessing.

“I could probably say without hesitation — I’ve been at Penn 18 years — and this is probably the deepest goalkeeping crop that I’ve had in my time at Penn,” Fuller said. “We’re still getting a few of them fit, but if we can get them fit and healthy, it will really benefit them and our team when they are competing each and every day.

“At their core, I think each one of them has the potential to be a good college goalkeeper and win the starting position for us. So it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out.”

Returning starter Max Polkinhorne is the most experienced of the four. Yet even he agrees with Fuller’s assessment of the team’s backline depth.

“I think having four guys is actually really, really good,” he said. “Especially having two older and two younger guys.”

In 2013, Polkinhorne, now a senior, transferred to Penn from Santa Clara to join Tyler Kinn in front of the Red and Blue’s net. That year, Polkinhorne was a crucial part in the effort to win the Ivy title.

“[Max] has had some really big games for us over his career,” Fuller said. “Most notably back in 2013, coming in after halftime [in the team’s penultimate against Princeton] when Tyler Kinn was injured, then the following week up at Harvard when we won the Ivy title.

“He’s had some big performances for us so it gives us confidence with him in the net.”

Last year, following Kinn’s graduation, Polkinhorne clinched the starting position and was joined on the roster by fellow member of the class of 2016, Nick Savino. The latter also transfered from UC-Santa Barbara for his sophomore year, but joined the squad as a player in 2014.

Together, Polkinorne and Savino make up Penn’s veteran set of goalies.

In the crop of 10 new players the Quakers added to their roster this fall, two freshmen round out the quartet of goalkeepers: Scott Forbes and Etan Mabourakh.

The duo is one of the critical reasons why the Red and Blue’s recruiting class was ranked 12th in the country this year. With much success and experience in their pre-collegiate careers, there are high hopes for what they can do at Penn.

In the Quakers’ first two contests, Polkinhorne played every minute between the pipes. The Red and Blue held No. 7 Washington to a 0-0 tie but faltered against American, letting in four goals.

“I think the Washington game, I came out really ready to go,” Polkinhorne said. “With a big home crowd, first real game of the season and playing against a ranked opponent always makes you ready to go.

"[The American] game, I don’t think anyone was ready, I don’t think that I played any better than anybody else, I don’t think I had a very good game. That’s not because we let four goals in; everyone coming off the Washington game relaxed a little bit too much.”

No one disputes that Polkinhorne is an asset to the team, but only time will tell which member of the quartet of qualified and talented goalies will be the starter in the games to come.

“Max has certainly done well over the past year and a half in goal for us, he’s won an Ivy title,” Fuller said. “Nick has done really well in training as well.

“So you have two guys in training that I think our coaches and our players are really comfortable with and we were fortunate to have two guys in Scott and Etan that were two of the most sought-after goalkeepers in the country last year. It’s a good problem to have.”

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