The Quakers’ consistent results have put them in a great position to challenge for the Ivy League title. After another strong all-around performance, Penn women's soccer has proven yet again that it has a serious chance to lift the trophy at the end of the season.
A 6-0 victory over Delaware State on Monday night showcased the depth of Penn’s squad, as the win included goals from five different players and highlighted the talent of some of the younger athletes who haven’t seen much of the field throughout the season.
Coach Nicole Van Dyke emphasized the hard work of her bench players and their impact on the team.
“They contribute every single day in training, and they’re the reason that our starters and more of the impact players have gotten so much better because they compete against them in training,” Van Dyke explained. “It’s a great opportunity for them to get in and showcase themselves, and they were brilliant."
From the very first whistle, Penn (12-1-1, 4-0-1 Ivy) established a stronghold on the game, dominating possession and creating several shooting opportunities that went high or wide. Senior forward Sasha Stephens created havoc throughout the first half, attacking defenders one-on-one down the right wing and putting in cross after cross to try to find the breakthrough.
Junior forward Emily Sands had the first high-quality chance of the game, but she pulled her shot just wide of the far post off of a pinpoint through ball from sophomore defender Katharine Larson. Sands later became the playmaker, putting the ball on a plate for senior midfielder Allie Trzaska to tap in, but Hornets' goalkeeper Leslie Fazio was able to slide across the goal line and make a quick reaction save.
The Quakers’ first goal came in the 25th minute from a surprising source, with junior defender Abby Reed putting the ball in the back of the net for the first time in her career. A clearance from a corner trickled out to Reed just outside of the penalty area, and she hit a curler with her left foot that traveled through a sea of players and nestled into the bottom corner.
Another debut goal made the score 2-0. A Penn free kick bounced into the box and sat up nicely for freshman forward Abbey Duncan, and she slotted it home to double the lead for the Quakers. A goal from sophomore forward Paige Howard, assisted by Duncan, gave the Red and Blue a three-goal lead headed into the locker room at halftime.
The flow of the game did not change in the second period. The Red and Blue continued to create scoring opportunities, and the goals kept coming. Penn doubled its lead from the first half, featuring a second goal from Duncan and a first career goal from sophomore midfielder Cameron Keating, who assisted Duncan’s brace with a beautiful cross that hit Duncan in stride before she placed it in beyond Fazio.
The Quakers will now look ahead to an Ivy showdown at home against Brown, where they have a chance to clinch at least a share of the Ivy League title. Van Dyke, Duncan, and Howard all agreed that the team’s objective is to win the title, but they have refrained from looking too far into the future.
“It’s definitely in the back of our minds. It’s our end goal, but we take it game by game,” Howard said. “It’s really important to just stay in the moment. We are looking at Brown and we just want to get a win. Just each game, game by game.”
As the season comes to a close, Penn women’s soccer will be taking it one game at a time.