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Joe Swenson and the rest of Penn men's soccer have struggled to gain any traction this season, but the Quakers are still hopeful they can turn it around.

Credit: Pauline Colas

Another game brought another loss for Penn soccer as the Quakers continue to search for a way to turn their season around.

As has been the case often this season, the team dug itself into an early hole that it could not climb back out of, falling to Villanova by the score of 2-1. Villanova (7-7) scored first in the 21st minute, and then added to their lead in the 24th minute. The Wildcats were able to hang on for the rest of the game, only allowing one goal despite Penn’s (2-9-1, 0-2-1 Ivy) increasingly attacking play as the game went on.

After allowing two early goals, coach Rudy Fuller decided to tinker with his lineup, subbing in freshmen Wes Maki and Amado Lozano and junior Santi Musalem Pinto to change the momentum of the game. The team was able to improve its performance by a large margin in the second half, controlling play and creating opportunities to score (Penn outshot Villanova 9-1 in the second half). In the 77th minute, Dami Omitaomu was taken down in the box and Joe Swenson was able to get one goal back for Penn from the penalty spot. 

“It just sorta happened during preseason,” Swenson said of becoming the penalty taker for the team. “I stepped up and took one during our inter-squad scrimmage and I haven’t missed since.”

Despite controlling the entire second half, the team struggled to make possession count.

“I think we need to better at controlling our 18-[yard] box and being able to make things happen in theirs,” senior Sam Wancowicz said, explaining the team’s lack of success despite playing a solid match. “We are playing well from 18 to 18, but none of that it matters if we fall apart once we get close to net.”

A second goal never materialized, and Penn found itself again wondering what the result could have been if not for two early slip-ups. This is not the first time this season the team has felt this way.

Letting up goals in bunches has been a problem for Penn at other times this season too. In an earlier game against Drexel, the team let up goals in the 16th and 18th minute, and also ended up losing that match 2-1. Playing from behind is very difficult in soccer, and in order to reach their full potential the team must stop forcing themselves to have to climb back into every game.

“It is hard to figure out why this keeps happening because it is not a game preparation issue,”  Wancowicz said. “We keep having mental lapses and checking out at the wrong time, which is a very marginal issue that if we can cut out, we will be fine.”

The next game on Penn’s schedule is a relatively winnable matchup against Yale. Yale enters the game at 4-6-1.

“I think we’ll do a lot of defensive work this week to prepare for Yale,”  Wancowicz said. “We are going to work on being stronger one on one defenders.”

At 0-2-1 in the conference, Penn needs to start winning now for there to be any hope of an Ivy League championship.