In their first Ivy League matchup of the season, Penn women’s soccer was overwhelmed by the undefeated Harvard Crimson. The Quakers were unable to get on the scoreboard, despite a few promising scoring chances, losing 3-0 in a game that risked being even more lopsided.
Though Penn came out firing in the first five minutes of the game, they were unable to convert their offensive pressure into a goal, and Harvard took over soon after.
The Quakers’ difficulty in clearing the ball led to successive Harvard chances near the net. While the backline, including junior captain Peyton Raun, made some impressive saves and blocks, Crimson player Hannah Bebar ultimately scored in the ninth minute on a free kick that knuckled its way through multiple players into the goal.
“We really let Harvard dictate things, and that's not what we wanted to do going into the game,” coach Casey Brown said. “I think we struggled to respond after the first goal, and that hurt us.”
Harvard’s suffocating pressure continued through the rest of the first half. Most notably, Harvard recorded three consecutive shots in the span of a minute. While strong goaltending from sophomore Laurence Gladu, as well as defensive efforts from Raun, sophomore Maya Leschly, and sophomore Ginger Fontenot, prevented those shots from turning into goals, Penn was unable to find a consistent solution.
The closest Penn came to scoring in the first half came from a foul on junior Sizzy Lawton. From a set play, sophomore Lauren Teuschl recorded Penn’s first shot on goal in the 31st minute, but the Quakers were unable to convert.
At the end of the first half, Harvard led Penn 13-3 in shots, with Gladu recording seven saves. Bebar continued to give Penn trouble after her goal, ultimately finishing the half with five of Harvard’s 13 shot attempts.
“[Bebar’s] an incredible player,” Brown said. “I thought in the front of the play, we did a really good job against her. I just think she's a fantastic player, and fantastic players, if you don't play your best game as a team collectively, will do that to you.”
The second half played out similarly, with Penn coming out strong before the momentum swung back Harvard’s way.
Penn had a scoring chance when a strong kick by Lawton went wide of the net, but Harvard was able to gather the ball and race down the field. Crimson player Sophie Hirst raced down the right side and passed to a wide-open Angela Caloia. Caloia, Harvard's point leader, put the ball out of reach of Gladu’s dive and into the net.
Harvard continued with a long stretch of unanswered offensive pressure. Though Gladu made several goal- and chance-preventing plays on corner kicks and shot attempts, she was unable to stop another goal by Bebar, who scored from the box.
Bebar’s goal, which put Harvard up 3-0, served as the dagger in the game, with Penn unable to break the shutout, despite a final shot on goal by Lawton. Gladu finished with 11 total saves, including a save on Bebar’s attempt for a hat-trick, as the Crimson ultimately outshot the Quakers 23-5.
“You see a score line like that, and you don't generally think that the keeper did well, but I think [Gladu] also, to be fair, made some really big saves,” Brown said, noting that Gladu’s confidence has helped buoy the Quakers through their past games. “She’s done really well for us all season.”
Gladu served as one of Penn’s bright spots in the game, along with the defensive performances that prevented more goals from being scored in the first half. In particular, Raun, who has played every minute of every Quaker game so far, continued her steady presence on the backline.
Harvard, currently ranked at No. 23 in the nation, moves to 7-0-1 on the season, while Penn’s record now lies at 5-2-2. The Quakers hope to put this loss against a strong team behind them as conference games start ramping up.
“We're just trying to focus on turning the page [and] learning what we can from this game because we want to put our best foot forward to the next match,” Brown said. “Certainly just not our best day, but we'll learn from it and go forward because we know we have a fantastic team.”
The Red and Blue, still undefeated at home, will face Cornell (2-5-2, 1-0-0 Ivy) at Rhodes Field this Saturday.
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