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Senior forward Sasha Stephens looks to build on her momentum after scoring goals in back-to-back games and being named the Ivy League Player of the Week.

Credit: Chase Sutton

This weekend, Penn women’s soccer hopes to conclude a string of non-conference games with a strong finishing kick. 

The Quakers (4-1) will play at home early Friday evening at Rhodes Field against University of Maryland, Baltimore County (0-6) before going on the road to face Towson (2-5-1) Sunday afternoon. These mark the games before Penn begins Ivy League play on September 22 against Harvard. 

The Quakers will try to build on the momentum they gained from impressive victories this past weekend over Delaware and Navy, winning the Navy Classic in the process. This continued a strong start to the season for the Red and Blue, whose only loss in five games came to No. 13 NC State in a close one goal match. 

Those successful results have given the players an extremely positive outlook. 

“I’m feeling really confident and I think as a whole we’re all feeling really confident about the way we’ve been playing and the overall chemistry that we have on and off the field,” Senior forward Sasha Stephens said. “I think we’re all in a real good place right now.” 

Coach Nicole Van Dyke was also feeling optimistic about the team’s chances, emphasizing the detail-oriented approach the Quakers are using in all aspects of their preparation. 

“We want to continue to be focused on everything we do, from the amount of sleep we get to rest to the way we recover to keeping the practices really, really competitive,” Van Dyke said. “That’s what this team does a really good job of. Everyone competes regardless of minutes and we’re just hoping that come game time the games are easier than the practices.”

On paper, the games this weekend do not appear as tough as some from earlier in the season. UMBC and Towson have struggled thus far this year, with only two wins between them and -13 and -7 goal differentials respectively. That isn’t detracting from Penn’s concentration, however. 

“There are still things we need to work on. We all know that so we’re focusing on this week of training,” Van Dyke said. "Just having the opportunity to showcase how we’ve improved throughout the week is what excites this team.” 

With Ivy League play upcoming after this week, one might assume that the Quakers are making adjustments to their preparation and game plan. Nevertheless, the players are more focused on maintaining constants. 

“It’s just business as usual,” Stephens said. “We treat every week like game week whether we have one or two games and no matter who the opponent is.” 

Interestingly, the coaching staff is taking a slightly different approach to the weekend’s play. While Van Dyke noted that overall consistency would be key, she also hinted at some possible changes. 

“We want to make sure that we’ve seen everything we need to see, so there might be some opportunities for other kids this week if they have great training sessions,” she said. “We have a lot of talent on this team, so we’re really trying to mix it up and look at different formulas heading into the final week.” 

The Quakers will then be looking forward even as they compete this weekend. Their goals might not just be confined to scoring the greatest number.