There was a celebration before the game but not after.
Penn men's soccer left Rhodes Field heartbroken after losing to rival Princeton, in a 2-1 overtime thriller on senior night. The Quakers (3-12-1, 1-4-1 Ivy) more than held their own against the Tigers (6-6-4, 2-2-2), who had not been defeated in their previous six games, going 4-0-2 in that span.
The seniors – Austin Kuhn and Sam Wancowicz – were honored prior to the match, as Saturday's contest was their last at Rhodes Field. The team travels to Cambridge next week to face Harvard in their final match of the year.
"Austin and Sam have represented our program with the utmost class over the past four years and have been invaluable this season in shaping the culture of the locker room and maturing this young team through a difficult stretch," coach Rudy Fuller said. "Everyone within the organization would have liked to send the seniors out with better results and certainly a win."
The seniors' impact was definitely felt in this contest, as Sam Wancowicz netted the Quakers' lone goal in the 14th minute, capitalizing on a rebound from a shot by freshman midfielder Jake Kohlbrenner, giving Penn an early lead.
"Sam has played a huge role in our success over the years and has really developed into arguably the top right back in the league and I think one of the top right backs in the country," Fuller said.
Fuller's praise of his seniors carried over to Kuhn. The senior midfielder has started every game this season in the midfield.
"Austin Kuhn has matured greatly since he first stepped foot on campus and has become a tremendous mentor and leader in the locker room in helping shape the careers of those coming after him," Fuller said.
The Quakers were outshot by the Tigers 13-5 in the contest and surrendered two unanswered goals, converted by Gaby Paniagua (22') and Bobby Hickson (94'), to give Princeton the victory on the road.
The Red and Blue had numerous opportunities to score in regulation, but could not capitalize. Senior Joe Swenson narrowly missed a free kick attempt late in the second half, as the Tigers' keeper parried the shot with a terrific diving stop.
"We really looked to take advantage of Princeton in transition, and I thought we had our fair share of opportunities to score another," Fuller said.
Coach Fuller has continuously emphasized the growth of his team as the season has progressed and has praised the strides his players have taken this year.
"I think the team reached a turning point after the Villanova game, and our team has played well in our games thereafter," Fuller said.
Looking forward, a bright spot for the Quakers has been the young Kohlbrenner, who was awarded an assist on the lone goal. Kohlbrenner has made significant contributions throughout the season, compiling six points on two goals and two assists. He figures to be a leader of the youthful Quaker team that features numerous freshmen.
More presently, the Quakers will look to close out their season and gain momentum for next season with a win next weekend against Harvard in Cambridge.
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