Consistency is key, especially when it’s five years in the making.
That’s how long it’s been since Penn men’s soccer has lost to Yale, and this weekend, the team will hope to make it six.
This Saturday, the Quakers (2-4-4, 0-3 Ivy) will face off against the Bulldogs (6-4-2, 1-1-1) at Reese Stadium in New Haven, Conn.
Despite some disappointment in terms of scoring, the Red and Blue have excelled defensively throughout the season. This is due in large part to the efforts of sophomore defenders Alex Touche, and RC Williams, junior Casey Barone, and senior Erumuse Momoh, all of whom have played almost every minute of every game so far this season.
Though Penn fell to Dartmouth this past week, the Quakers’ dry spell is over. Senior midfielder and captain Joe Swenson scored the Quakers’ first goal in over 700 minutes of play.
“It felt good to finally get a goal,” Swenson said. “I felt [like] we were getting into their half [and] playing more attacking soccer than we have been thus far this season.”
Last year, Swenson was an integral part of the Quakers’ 4-1 win against the Elis. He scored three goals and made an assist to then-freshman forward Jake Kohlbrenner.
But a strong performance last year doesn’t guarantee one this year. The Elis have had a pretty successful season so far, with wins against Dartmouth and Cornell — both of whom the Quakers lost to. Led by high-scorers like senior midfielder Nicky Downs and sophomore forward Aldo Quevedo, Yale's offense has been potent, scoring 17 goals — more than three times as many as Penn has scored.
A strong Quaker defense, however, will give the Elis a run for their money; the Red and Blue boast five shutouts this season.
Even if it’s not coming in the way of points, Penn has really seen some development. Swenson attributes this to the fact that the underclassmen are really becoming a part of the team.
“I think you’ve seen a lot of the younger guys come out more, like come out of their shell[s],” Swenson said. “Moving towards the end of the season, I think we’re gonna be in a really good place, and I think moving forward, the program’s in a really good spot.”
The Quakers know what it will take to do well this weekend, no matter what the final score turns out to be.
“I think just keeping up with our defense and still focusing a lot on that, but maybe if we can get more going offensively, even building on a relatively good performance offensively against Dartmouth,” Swenson said.
With four more conference matchups left this season, improvement on the offensive end is imperative if the Quakers have any hope of turning around their season. In the next couple of weeks, they will face Brown, Princeton, and Harvard. A win against Yale could provide the momentum needed to take on the rest of their Ivy opponents.
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