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10-19-2021-mens-soccer-versus-temple-stas-korsenowski-edwin-mejia

Freshman forward Stas Korzeniowski dribbles the ball down the field during Tuesday's game on Oct. 19 against Temple at Rhodes Field.

Credit: Edwin Mejia

Another Tuesday night at home presented another battle for the rights to the city, as Penn men’s soccer hosted the Owls — one week after Penn’s win against Drexel at home.

For the second consecutive week, the Quakers were heading into a Tuesday night game three days after running overtime only three days prior. This Tuesday night, the Red and Blue (7-3-2, 1-1-1 Ivy) bested Philly rival Temple (2-8-2, 0-6-0) in a 2-1 match at Rhodes Field.

Last Tuesday’s win against Drexel was a follow-up to the team's overtime draw against Columbia. This game, however, Penn was coming into the slate with a tightly contested overtime win against Dartmouth.

Coach Brian Gill employed some necessary depth in much of his lineup, with only seven of Saturday’s starting 11 appearing on the lineup once again.

"We have a deep bench, so a lot of the guys could come on and make an impact. Today we had different guys step up," junior midfielder Alex Kades said. "We've had that throughout the season, which is a big deal."

Both teams pushed the ball with pace from the initial whistle. Penn was quick on its feet after the ball, as the team focused on winning possession. Voices from players on both teams shouted directions as the pace of play accelerated.

Several long passes emerged from Penn’s midfield early on, but few turned into effective plays at goal.

A mistake from Temple’s goalkeeper early on presented a chance for Penn after the ball slipped from his gloves. Temple’s defenders were quick to clean up, but so was Penn's attack in searching for chances to score.

Kades and sophomore Jacob Muchnick recognized the defensive duties early on, as they cleaned up from the midfield — each picking up on Temple’s patterns and predicting their plays. Temple’s left wing seemed like a potential problem for Penn, but the Quakers were quick to adapt and defend.

But right as the clock approached 10 minutes, the Owls pushed up through the right side of the pitch and slipped through Penn’s central defense, as Temple’s Amir Cohen launched a strong volley into the bottom left corner of the net.

Penn responded by continuing to press up the pitch, and a chance arrived three minutes after Temple’s goal, as Joey Bhangdia was well-positioned to receive a cross from the right and strike it into the top right of the goal.

“We never want to give up an early goal; we never want to go down, but we've shown over the past three, four games that we can come back, and we're never out of it,” Muchnick said. “We've learned just to always believe that we can get back in the game.”

After leveling the score, Penn pushed to control the game in their own half; countering every attempt by Temple, who was pushing high up the field. Penn was keen on securing the midfield, and the Owls pressed to find chances through the wings.

Temple attempted another run very similar to the one that played a role in its first goal, but Penn’s defense looked much more solid, as they were quicker to fall back in position and defend. The Quakers would not repeat the same error for the rest of the game.

A substitution to bring Stas Korzeniowski into the match allowed the Quakers more chances to advance the ball through the midfield, as the freshman’s height advantage seemed a likely choice for a build-up to goal, but any attempts were heavily countered, as the freshman was up against a densely positioned defense by the Owls.

Halftime substitutions included Dane Jacomen to replace starting goalkeeper Nick Christoffersen. Jacomen would make three saves — the first coming six minutes into the second half.

A main challenge in the first half for the Quakers was connecting effective passes after winning aerials, which continued for the remainder of the game. The Owls never eased pressure, as the Quakers were frequently dispossessed.

But Penn looked for opportunities, as Temple failed to connect their passes more frequently. 

Substitutions were frequent in the second half, as both teams attempted to remedy stalemates by bringing new players onto the field. 

The game-winning goal arrived after substitutions brought veteran players Bhangdia and senior Matt Leigh back on the field. Penn connected multiple consecutive passes, which gave possession to Leigh, who netted the ball off an assist by Ben Stitz.

Temple continued to advance the ball with longer passes across the field but was starved of any hope to get near the goal. A solid performance from Penn’s defensive midfielders prevented the Owls’ chances up to the last minute, and a save from Jacomen in the final 20 seconds sealed the record for a three-game winning streak for Penn.

“We just finished with six wins in non-conference, so having those wins, being able to go into this year's last few games in Ivy in a good place, and to move ourselves up to the table, it's huge,” Kades said. “I think all the guys are in a good mood, in a good way … Huge couple of wins back to back.”

With only four matches left in the regular season for the seniors and fifth-year players, the Quakers are headed into tough Ivy League matchups to close off the season.

“I’m just excited for the opportunity to play four competitive games,” Muchnick said. “The team showed that we can kind of compete with anybody. I’m just excited to go get four more wins.”

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