Penn women's soccer clearly didn't mind the rain, as they managed to take all six points in a wet, windy weekend.
The Red and Blue continued their impressive season by beating Delaware 2-0 on Friday and Navy 4-2 on Sunday in convincing fashion despite the difficult weather conditions.
The Quakers (4-1) made three lineup changes going into their opening match, switching two of their three forwards after their close loss to No. 13 NC State.
“Everyone knows what our objectives are and everyone accepts whatever role they’re given on the day,” coach Nicole Van Dyke said. “And that really contributed to two wins this weekend.”
The Quakers got off to a hot start against the Blue Hens (1-5-1), forcing four shots and three corner kicks in the first couple of minutes.
This pressure led to the first breakthrough for the Red and Blue, a direct goal off a corner kick from senior Sasha Stephens in the fifth minute. The forward took a corner kick, using an in-swinging curve to beat the opposing goalkeeper in the upper-90. This momentum set the tone for the rest of the first half.
Penn tacked on six more shots in the next fifteen minutes, continuing to keep the pressure on Delaware. The game continued in this manner until the Quakers found their second breakthrough. Freshman forward Jackie Bruder scored the first goal of her collegiate career, following a beautiful assist from senior Allie Trzaska in the 27th minute.
Delaware responded with their first shot on goal in the game coming in the 31st minute that was easily handled by junior goalkeeper Kitty Qu.
“I don’t think there’s one thing that contributes to the success of our backline,” Qu said. “Just constant communication, always staying focus no matter what the circumstances are, and adapting to whatever our opponent gives us.”
Solid defense allowed Penn to preserve the clean sheet, its third already this year.
“The main thing is that our backline is not that young anymore,” Qu said. “Having that time together has really helped us solidify everything defensively in terms of organization and staying together.”
The team was looking to keep up this run when they faced a tough Navy squad playing on their home turf. To make things tougher, a constant downpour and heavy winds led to very difficult playing conditions.
“It’s obviously a challenge to play under these conditions, but what I love about this team is the resilience we have,” Qu said.
The tone of the match at the onset was different from Penn’s previous match. Two shots on target by Navy (2-3-3) and two corners in the first three minutes forced Penn on its back foot.
The Quakers quickly turned the tide, though, following up with two shots on goal of their own. The second of which was placed into the back of the net by Stephens — her second goal in as many games — via a cross from junior forward Emily Sands.
Penn could not capitalize on their next few chances before a tackle outside of the defensive box led to a free kick opportunity for Navy's Basely McClaskey. She then stepped up and fired her shot past Qu in the 28th minute.
With the game looking like it would go into the break all tied up, Kelsey Andrews’ looping shot found the back of the goal to give the Red and Blue the lead in the 38th minute. The goal came from yet another Trzaska assist. This was the fifth assist of the season for the midfielder, which leads the team.
“To go a goal up, [Navy] equalize, and the response we had in that moment was to get after it again, I was super proud,” Van Dyke said.
The Midshipmen earned a great chance to equalize, but their shot was cleared off the goal line by sophomore defender Chase Geffert.
After the Quaker defense turned away threatening shots, Geffert had two chances from free kicks, a shot being tipped over the bar and a pass to Sands that was narrowly wide.
The pressure led to an insurance goal for Penn as Sands put in her second goal of the season. Navy attempted to clear the ball from its box, but Sands intercepted it and fired it to the back of the net.
With the game winding down, junior forward Emma Loving seemed to have scored the game’s final goal in the 89th minute coming off an assist from Bruder.
However, 17 seconds later, Navy earned another free kick, and McClaskey scored off the direct kick for the second time in the game. This was also double the amount of goals that the Red and Blue had allowed all season.
“This team really, truly is all in and has a lot of belief in everyone,” Van Dyke said. “They’re excited to see each other have success, and that’s something special that we need to continue to build on.”
The Quakers have one more weekend of non-conference play to look forward to before their conference season starts. With multiple players stepping up offensively and the defensive unit continuing to perform, Penn looks like an Ivy League contender.