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Senior goalkeeper Max Polkinhorne put on a clinic against No. 7 Washington on Friday, notching eight saves and recording a shutout.

Credit: Thomas Munson , Thomas Munson

It is by no means uncommon for a weekend doubleheader to feature clear high- and low-water marks.

Only this weekend for Penn men’s soccer, the high point found them threatening to summit the pinnacle of the collegiate landscape, and the low point featured a team that was almost unrecognizable its previous showing.

In the team’s toughest back-to-back matchups of the season, Penn ultimately could not string together two strong performances in a row. After impressively drawing against seventh-ranked Washington on Friday, the Quakers faltered in their matinee performance on Sunday against American.

Coming out of the summer, there was no doubt that the beginning of the season was going to be a challenge for the Red and Blue (0-1-1). Their fully-renovated roster welcomed seven new full-time starters — freshmen and upperclassmen alike — and coach Rudy Fuller has never been one to shy away from a tough non-conference schedule.

“It was a difficult task for the guys. To go the full 110 minutes on Friday night and then have to travel down to DC and play a good American team, it was a tough task and we knew that going in.” Fuller said. “We knew it was going to be a challenge, and it just proved too much for us.”

The season started on Friday with a hotly-contested match against Washington (2-0-2). After 90 minutes of play mostly controlled by the Huskies, the two teams were both still scoreless. Two 10-minute overtime periods could not break the tie, even though Penn started to level the playing field with multiple quality chances.

Senior goalkeeper Max Polkinhorne put on a clinic in net with an eight-save shutout, helping secure a decent result for his side.

Penn’s momentum came to a halt on Sunday, however, when the team struggled against the Eagles (4-0-0). A team that earned votes in the top 25, American was by no means an easy matchup. Penn went on to lose that match in disappointing fashion, 4-0.

Fuller does not believe that Sunday showed his squad playing to its potential, noting that the turnaround between games led to a tired performance from his squad.

“We didn’t have the legs to do what we wanted to do,” he said.

Also in need of remediation is his team’s scoring woes. Through two matches — the first two since former star Duke Lacroix finished his four-year tenure — Penn has not yet scored and has been outshot, 39-12. But according to Fuller, fixing that should not be a problem.

“It’s very easy: We have to be sharper on the ball.” Fuller said. “We have to do a better job of perfecting our passes and getting numbers forward on the attack.”

The Quakers will travel to Florida this week for a pair of matches, starting with Florida International on Friday. Practice for the Quakers will be as important as ever this week, as the new starters look to develop a rapport with one another and develop relationships that will potentially transfer to the field at game time.

“It’s early in the year,” Fuller noted. “We have a lot of new guys playing, both first year players and returners. We have a lot of guys that haven’t seen a lot of time in the past entrusted with important roles.

“It’s a lot of new connections and new relationships that need to form and those take time.”

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