As the backbone of Penn women’s soccer’s recent turnaround, it might seem like senior goalkeeper Kitty Qu has nothing left to accomplish for the Quakers. After all, her list of records and achievements is already illustrious.
During last season alone, Qu broke the single-season program records in save percentage and goals-against average, posting a stunning .912 and .350, respectively, placing her in the top five nationally in each statistic. Her nine shutouts helped the Quakers clinch a share of their first Ivy League title since 2010.
“Her ability to step right in and command the goal has been so impressive. She’s played pretty much every minute outside of her first 12 because she was running late from NSO,” coach Nicole Van Dyke said.
While Qu might be the rock of the Red and Blue defense, she recognizes that without her teammates, much of her success over the past three seasons would be impossible.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is our defensive structure,” Qu said. “The ability of our defense to stay organized and be so consistent during my time here has been key.”
This defensive organization is evident in the statistics as well. Despite Qu’s dominant numbers, she often faces far fewer shots than other Ivy League goalies. In her sophomore season, she recorded a career-high 73 saves, compared to the program record of 222. However, these numbers do not mean that Qu hasn’t had a tremendous impact on the field.
“One of the moments that really stands out to me is when we played against Columbia in her sophomore year, she saved four or five massive opportunities for Columbia who at the time were top-of-the-table,” Van Dyke said. “I think we always look back at that as the moment we knew what she was capable of doing.”
While her on the field impact is easy to recognize, Qu has also helped to influence a culture change that has injected new life into the program.
“She has created so much confidence for us being so consistent,” Van Dyke said. “She’s a very calm, safe, and low-risk goalkeeper, and that’s what makes her so successful.”
“We’ve consistently maintained our defensive standard, and every year that standard rises,” Qu said. “Each season we just want to defend the culture that we have worked so hard to create here.”
Part of this new culture involves the other goalies taking a larger leadership role. This includes Qu constantly helping her backup, junior Ashley Gabor, prepare in case she is needed.
“She has been a great role model to me," Gabor said. "It was really intimidating being the only goalie to come in as a freshman, and she was someone who was really easy to follow. ... She’s always there for you if you need her.
“On the field, whenever she sees something I did wrong or need to work on, she always helps me correct it and get better every time. She is always pushing me to be better.”
With so much already accomplished, Qu’s only goal over her career has never changed.
“I just want to win,” Qu said. “We don’t want to share the title like we did last year, we want to win [the Ivy League] outright and make the NCAA Tournament.”
In order for the Quakers to do so, they need to do something they have never done during Qu’s time at Penn: beat their archrival, Princeton.
“My class has never beaten Princeton in our careers here, and this year we play them in our final game for senior night and homecoming. If we were able to beat them, that would be really special,” Qu said.
With a legacy already well-established and her goals clearly in focus, Qu’s senior season is shaping up to be the cherry on top of an already excellent career.