It wasn’t without hiccups, but Penn women's soccer finished with a successful weekend.
On Friday and Sunday, the Quakers took on Fairfield and Mount St. Mary’s, respectively. On paper, Penn's opponents weren’t incredibly imposing. Fairfield lost to Yale, 5-1, last week, and Mount St. Mary’s has yet to secure a victory. However, that didn't mean that the games were easy for the Red and Blue.
On a cold, rainy Friday night, Penn drew Fairfield, 1-1, before defeating Mount St. Mary's by a score of 1-0 on Sunday. Junior midfielder Breukelen Woodard scored quickly for the Quakers (2-1-1) in the second half of the first game, and they seemed to have the match under control, outshooting Fairfield (3-2-1) by a 15-8 total. However, that control waned in the 58th minute, when Fairfield equalized the game. The Quakers were unable to score a go-ahead goal and left disappointed with their performance.
“[Coming into this weekend,] we expected to get two wins. We expect to win every game we play,” coach Nicole Van Dyke said.
Going into their Sunday matchup against Mount St. Mary’s (0-6), the Red and Blue wanted to be aggressive and more organized with their attack.
“After Friday’s game, we spent a couple days trying to focus on doing things a little higher up on the field,” Van Dyke said. “We wanted to get into the final third and create better opportunities.”
They did just that. Against Fairfield, the Quakers put just six shots on goal. Against Mount St. Mary’s, they had 11 in addition to 20 shots overall. Among those creating opportunities was senior forward Emily Sands. Sands had nine shots overall, including five on goal. She was constantly in the mix, creating chances and controlling the ball in the final third.
Last year, Woodard scored just one goal. This weekend, she scored two, recording the only goal of the game against Mount St. Mary's in the seventh minute.
“I definitely think working hard in the summer has really paid off for me. I was injured most of last season; I had a restrictive wrap most of the season,” Woodard said. “This season, it feels really good to not have that on me, to be free, to be loose, take shots, and make runs.”
Woodard’s positioning and timely runs led to her two goals. Both shots were one-touch strikes, and both were assisted by Sands.
Though the match against Fairfield didn’t yield the result the Quakers wanted, they are encouraged by their progress thus far.
“After our first 15 minutes, we settled in a little bit. We were being too methodical, almost thinking too much,” Van Dyke said. “We’re getting good opportunities. Now it’s just those final couple inches where you need to be that much better.”
“This weekend, we’ve really found our attacking mindset. We’ve been able to put a couple goals away,” Woodard said. “It’s playing as a team, getting that last through ball.”
The Quakers clearly improved from the match against Fairfield to the match against Mount St. Mary’s. The conditions helped; Sunday’s game was sunny and 75 degrees. Their next chance to improve comes against Bucknell next Friday.
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