With the final exam looming, Penn men’s soccer gets one more practice test.
On Tuesday, the Quakers will play host to West Virginia in their final non-conference tilt of the year. The Mountaineers (7-5-1, 1-2 MAC) are fresh off of an upset of No. 22 Akron and come to University City for their third-ever meeting with the Red and Blue (4-4-5, 2-2 Ivy).
Although West Virginia topped the Quakers, 1-0, in 2014, Penn took down the Mountaineers 3-2 on the road in overtime last year in what was the team’s marquee victory.
“We’re not the same team, they’re not the same team, but they’ve had some good results,” Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. “They’ve had a good year, they’re up there in RPI, so it’s another good game for us on our home field and we’re excited for the opportunity.”
Headed into the matchup, Penn stands at 2-2-5 in non-conference play. Tuesday will offer a final tuneup before the last three Ancient Eight contests of the season. Although they are not in total control of their destiny, the Red and Blue’s six points in conference play is just four back of Dartmouth and Harvard for the best in the league.
But right now, those six points are only good enough for fifth place. The compressed state of the conference means the squad could rise or slide with equal ease.
“We’ve just got to control what we can do, try to run out and see what happens with everyone else, see where the table falls,” Wancowicz said. “We’ve just got to play our best and see what happens.”
The game will be a strong test for Fuller’s squad — West Virginia has played three top 10 teams this year, beating then-No. 7 Georgetown, 1-0, and narrowly falling to No. 9 Seattle and No. 1 Maryland.
The Quakers are coming off of a strong 3-0 performance against Yale, featuring the first-ever goals from freshman Dami Omitaomu and sophomore Gideon Metrikin. Thanks in part to his sixth-minute goal, Omitaomu was named the Philadelphia City Six Rookie of the Week on Monday.
For Penn to sustain success in the final stretch, they’ll need continued strong performances from the young guns and experienced hands Tuesday night. In that last match against West Virginia, now-senior Alec Neumann scored the first goal, while current junior Sam Wancowicz netted the final two — including the game-winner.
“We don’t really think about the number of games coming up or who’s coming up,” Fuller said. “This group has done a really good job all season long of just trying to get better and understanding the process. We preached it time and time again and they bought into it.”
Whether the team is paying the schedule heed or not, there still remain just four more contests. Three of those round out Ivy play, and Tuesday night will give players, fans and coaches another chance to see just what kind of team the Quakers can be with respect to the Ivy table.
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