The Quakers traveled to Wisconsin undefeated, but they aren’t leaving that way.
Penn men's soccer split its pair of weekend matches versus Marquette on Friday and Milwaukee on Sunday during its weekend road trip.
At Marquette, Penn won 1-0 following sophomore defender Alex Touche's overtime game winning header, but lost its next game 2-0 against Milwaukee.
Marquette provided the third straight overtime match for Penn (2-1-1) to open the season, and the second time Alex Touche scored the winner. The 6-4 sophomore from Albuquerque, New Mexico has shown an impressive knack for putting the ball in the back of the net despite playing defense for the Quakers. Touche also notched a goal in the season finale last year against Harvard.
Also involved in Touche’s game winning goal was junior midfielder and captain Brandon Bartel. Bartel assisted both of Touche’s goals this year, placing crosses in the perfect spot for the big defender to go up and get it. Bartel has continued to play a crucial part of Penn’s midfield after starting all 17 matches last season and playing the full length in all but two.
The Red and Blue had shutout two of their first three opponents following their first road win of the season. Penn’s defense of Touche, junior Casey Barone, senior Erumuse Momoh and sophomore RC Williams look to be a strong backbone for a team hoping to compete for an Ivy League title.
Williams missed last season due to injury, but the other three all started together last year, and their experience playing with each other has undoubtedly contributed to their strong start.
Penn defeated the Golden Eagles (2-2-0) despite getting outshot 11 to seven.
On Sunday, the near opposite occurred – Penn fell to Milwaukee (3-2-0) despite outshooting the Panthers 11 to eight. The Quakers did not put a single shot on target in the first half, and only one of their 11 in the match forced a save from the goalie.
Penn’s defense was unable to keep up their string of shutouts, as Milwaukee put two early goals past the Quakers.
The eye test showed the Quakers defense played better than the stats show however. Milwaukee never seemed comfortable working the ball up the field and had to resort to long balls over the top very often.
Moving forward, Penn faces Lehigh, Marist and Bucknell on their schedule before Ivy League play starts.
For new coach Brian Gill, this has been a mixed start. On the positive side, Penn’s defense pitched back to back overtime shutouts before allowing two goals to Milwaukee on Sunday. On the negative side, Penn’s offense has four goals in four games, with two of its four total goals coming off the head of Touche.
Moving forward, it is imperative Penn’s strikers are able to turn their opportunities into goals.