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Sasha Stephens was recently named Ivy Rookie of the Week.

Credit: Khristian Monterroso , Khristian Monterroso

Fresh off a successful season opener, Penn women’s soccer is tasked with maintaining its momentum against against Temple and Mount Saint Mary’s at Rhodes Field this weekend.

The Quakers (1-0-0) will look to continue the strong offensive play that guided them to a 3-1 victory over Seton Hall last Sunday. That matchup showcased an impressive group of new talent, as sophomore transfer Lauren Petite and freshman Sasha Stephens each scored in their first appearances for the Quakers.

Stephens’ two goals in her collegiate debut also earned her the distinction of Ivy League Rookie of the Week.

The Red and Blue’s defense was equally sound, conceding only one score on a surprising counterattack midway through the first half. The Quakers responded by shutting down the Pirates for the remainder of the period and the rest of the game.

In her first year at the program’s helm, coach Nicole Van Dyke was encouraged by what she saw from her team against Seton Hall, but was also prepared to make changes in the coming days.

“The preseason is so short," Van Dyke said. "We got a good result out of our first game but there’s always so much to learn and get better at, and I think things are going to change for every game.

“We have a lot of kids who can contribute, so depending on the game and [the opponent’s] style and how we want to play, there will be changes every weekend.”

The first game of the weekend will be Friday against an undefeated Temple team. The Owls (4-0-0) have been impressive up to this point; they went a full 334 minutes before allowing their first goal of the season on Tuesday against Rider, and have outscored opponents 14-1 in their four wins to begin the year.

Mount Saint Mary’s, on the other hand, will visit Philadelphia on Sunday still searching for its first win of the young season. The Mountaineers (0-4-0) and Penn met in a tightly contested season opener last fall, one that ended with a 1-0 victory for the Red and Blue.

Despite the early success and previous head-to-head matchups, both coaches and players for the Quakers appeared more preoccupied with their own squad rather than the group on the opposing sideline. They believe if they take care of everything in their control and continue to work hard on the practice field, the team will be in position to have a great weekend and season going forward.

“We want the work ethic there and [to] continue to grow as a group and as individuals," Van Dyke said. "And hopefully that means getting good results. We want to come out strong and score a couple early goals like we did last weekend and get better as the game goes on.”

“I feel like we are doing a lot of things well,” Stephens said. “Once we put together a few more components from practice into games, we will be the real deal.”

The Quakers, with fresh bodies on the coaching staff and in the lineup, will inevitably need more time to fully mesh as a group on the field. But with that in mind, if the team plays a similar game to its first, it could very well finish the weekend with two more wins.

With ample talent and the confidence from two more wins to go along with it, Penn could indeed prove itself to be the “real deal.”

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