Penn women’s soccer was in a procrastinating mood on Monday. But at the last possible minute — with 52 seconds left in double overtime — Ivy League Player of the Week Emily Sands came through.
The 1-0 win over Lehigh (4-9) came courtesy of Sands' sixth game-winning goal in the season, enough to tie for second most in the nation. The junior attacking player's deciding strike gave the Quakers (9-1-1, 2-0-1 Ivy) the win and extended their unbeaten streak to eight games.
The Quakers started the game strongly, pinning Lehigh in its own defensive third on the field. That pressure resulted in an eighth-minute scramble in the box following a corner. That scramble allowed Penn to get three shots on goal, two of which were blocked by Lehigh. Penn pushed on and threatened Lehigh goalkeeper Sam Miller on several occasions, including a nice curling effort by Sands that narrowly whizzed past the post in the 20th minute.
Both teams were in search of an elusive goal for the entirety of the game, but the best opportunity in regulation came with a minute and a half to play. A free kick caused confusion in the Lehigh penalty box and left space for a Quaker goal, but sophomore midfielder Breukelen Woodard volleyed high from a few yards out.
Penn was dominant in attack during overtime, but Lehigh did manage to squander its lone chance in front of net in the first overtime period. With the game looking destined for a scoreless draw, senior forward Sasha Stephens lofted a cross into the box. Lehigh headed it away but only as far as towering freshman forward Abbey Duncan, who headed it back into the danger area for Sands to poke the ball home.
“[It’s just about] staying focused, knowing my role in every game, and fighting for my teammates,” Sands said. “The goal wasn’t pretty, but it went in, and that’s what matters.”
Sands credited her teammates for helping her receive Ivy League honors.
“I feel like I’ve been improving from last season… my teammates have been pushing me in practice and that has raised the level for everyone on the team.”
Penn managed 21 shots, far outpacing Lehigh, but only six of them were on target. Miller, who has 22 career shutouts, was solid throughout the game, most notably performing a double save late in first overtime to deny both Sands and Stephens a goal. But it was Penn who kept the clean sheet.
The Quakers will be looking for contributions from all over the pitch as they take on Dartmouth (6-3-2, 2-0-1 Ivy) on Oct. 13 in Hanover, N.H., who themselves are undefeated in the last six games.
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