Three days, two wins, and one great weekend for Penn women’s soccer as the Quakers defeated University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) before taking down Towson.
The 2018 campaign for the Quakers (6-1-0) has been almost entirely unblemished – even the team’s single loss was a hard-fought, close game against nationally ranked North Carolina State. The same could not be said for the competition. UMBC (0-8-0) entered Friday’s matchup only having netted two goals for the season, while conceding 14.
It did not take long for the Red and Blue to take advantage of UMBC’s defensive woes.
A low, grounded shot from junior Emily Sands found the feet of fellow junior Kelsey Andrews, who took a smart touch towards the goal to set up a one-on-one with the keeper. Andrews, the team’s leading scorer of the season, demonstrated professional composure and slotted the ball into the left-hand corner of the net to give the Quakers a 1-0 in the 19th minute.
The Red and Blue did not ease off the Retrievers after the early score, dominating possession. It was only a matter of time until the Quakers found the back of the net again. And 24 minutes later, they would.
Senior center back Camillia Nwokedi lobbed a ball into the box, where it found the head of Andrews. Andrews put it just below the crossbar – the goalkeeper was able to get a hand on it, but it snuck past her, and Andrews had her second goal of the game.
The second half would see the Red and Blue holding the pedal to the metal, firing off 10 total shots and forcing four saves from the UMBC keeper. A large part of the Quakers’ dominant offensive performance was that they did their homework.
“Finding those pockets in the midfield [was what was working well for the team] — we scouted that ahead of time. And then also our flank play — so finding it on the outsides and forwards being able to run in was really effective for us,” Andrews said.
The Quakers were unable to find the back of the net again, and the match ended 2-0.
On Sunday, the Red and Blue hit the road to square off against another Maryland-based team in Towson (3-6-1).
Junior goalkeeper Kitty Qu was put to work early, recording two saves before the 20 minute mark had arrived. The Quakers settled in and started to take command of the game, with big goal-scoring opportunities arising in the 16th and 31st minutes. However, it would take until just after halftime for the Quakers to break through.
Senior Sasha Stephens took the ball into the box with an exceptional bit of dribbling, fired a pass across the goal that went right to Emily Sands, who hit a shot off the pass and slotted the ball into the left-hand corner of the net.
That made it 1-0 Quakers, and it would remain that way until the final whistle.
Penn women’s soccer heads into the Ivy League season playing the best soccer the program has seen in almost two decades. The 6-1-0 record is the best start since 1998. Five of those wins have been shutouts. The offense has been prolific, averaging 2.2 goals per game.
Harvard will have their hands full when they square off in the Ivy League opener on Saturday, that’s for sure.
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