Overtime is where the Quakers shine.
On Saturday, Penn (6-5-2, 2-1-1 Ivy) hosted No. 24 Yale (9-2-2, 3-1-0 Ivy) at Rhodes Field. On a day where Penn faced the Bulldogs across multiple sports, the Quakers were eager for another victory. The Red and Blue knew the odds were stacked against them; they hadn't beaten a ranked team since 2010. And yet, from the opening whistle, Penn played with poise and confidence.
At the end, patience — something the Quakers are used to, as they've played in four overtime games this season — paid off for the Red and Blue. Both teams struggled to get good looks at the goal throughout regulation and overtime, but a mistimed challenge from a Yale defenseman gave Penn a penalty. Senior midfielder Brandon Bartel then calmly buried the walk-off penalty kick straight down the middle.
“It was such an awesome feeling," Bartel said. "Obviously, it’s really a mental game to step up into that scenario. Just to be able to keep my calm and score, that felt awesome, and it was great to get a win against such a high-caliber team.”
Six minutes after the opening whistle, junior defender Alex Touche sailed a shot wide after receiving a pass off of a corner kick. Looking to respond, Yale pressed the Quakers' defense, forcing a diving save from sophomore goalie Dane Jacomen.
Late in the half, the Quakers averted danger when the Elis sailed a shot inches left of the net, and Penn and Yale entered the half scoreless.
“We weren’t too happy with [the first half] to be honest. But we tried to use this as inspiration: Throughout the game, we competed smarter and harder," Touche said. “Just winning those battles got us into better positions. We keep working on the offensive side of the ball. Guys are working really hard to get some looks."
With tensions running high coming out of the break, Penn found room offensively in the 52nd minute, but the Quakers couldn't convert on a header and a free kick from 35 yards out.
“I think we did a good job getting the ball into the final third," Bartel said. "I think then, it’s just a matter of being a little bit cleaner in executing our passes into a little bit more dangerous spots."
As the game progressed, the Bulldogs found offensive opportunities. In the 75th minute, a Yale free kick drifted just over the bar, and nine minutes later, the Elis couldn't convert from 18 yards out.
“We have a very similar back line to last year and we had a good defense in 2018," Touche said. "This year, I feel like we slipped at the beginning, but now I feel that we are getting back to the staple where our good defensive play can help us stay in the game."
Without a score in 90 minutes of regulation, Yale and Penn headed into extra time. Yale had two opportunities to win the game with a golden goal, but Jacomen stood strong and made two saves.
In the second overtime period, the Quakers created more offensive opportunities through solid passing and ball control. Moving the ball past midfield, junior midfielder Joey Bhangdia slid into the top of the box and played the ball to junior midfielder Jake Kohlbrenner, who drew a Bulldog foul.
“Joey made a really good run across the top of the box, then played it to me," Kohlbrenner said. "I kept trying to drive towards the goal and took a bigger touch towards the end line and [the Yale defenseman] just cleated me out."
With only Yale sophomore goalie Elian Haddock standing between Penn's first win against a ranked opponent in nine years, Bartel took a deep breath and hit his mark.
“I don’t know if I would necessarily say that it was hugely different than a lot of the games that we’ve played over the last two seasons," coach Brian Gill said. "I think what we did get though, were a couple good moments where we can hang our hat on and say to ourselves, ‘There’s the opportunity to win the game,' and we did, and that’s rewarding for everyone in the program."
Kohlbrenner emphasized the gravity of this win and how everyone — from freshmen to seniors to the coaching staff — contributed.
“The team has spent so much work from when I was a freshman. [With] the upperclassmen leading us all the way until now, it has been a long time coming," Kohlbrenner said. "All props to the coaching staff [and] upperclassmen — they have gotten us to a really good place, and we want to keep going from here."
The Quakers will travel to Providence, R.I. next weekend, where they will face Brown.
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