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9-2-2021-womens-soccer-vs-uic-nicholas-fernandez
Sophomore Goalkeeper Laurence Gladu kicks the ball down the field during a game versus UIC on Sept. 2. Credit: Nicholas Fernandez

Penn women's soccer was unable to continue its momentum this weekend, losing 2-0 to the Columbia Lions on Saturday. The loss brings Penn’s away record to 0-3-2, a sharp contrast to their undefeated home record. 

The Red and Blue (6-3-2, 1-2-0 Ivy) were a week removed from a 2-0 victory against Cornell, which was first-year coach Casey Brown’s first conference win. Columbia (6-4-1, 1-2-0 Ivy) came into the match hoping to bounce back from an 2-0 loss to Brown on Oct. 2. Penn and Columbia entered the game with an even 7-7-2 record against each other since 2004.

The first half was a defensive battle, as each team failed to register any notable near-score moments until the 17th minute. Columbia midfielder Sophia Cavaliere shot a free kick into a crowded box, and there was nearly an open opportunity for two different players to shoot towards the goal. The cluttered players, along with a block from goalkeeper Laurence Gladu, stopped the score. 

By the end of the first half, the Quakers had eight shots, but were unable to get past Columbia’s defense. Two shots were saved by Columbia keeper Paige Nurkin, and the rest were off goal or blocked by other players. Meanwhile, on the defensive end, Gladu registered three saves from five shots, and any offensive pressure from the Lions was consistently stopped by the backline.

The second half, however, was when Columbia was finally able to score. Columbia forward Nata Ramirez scored a penalty kick to the left post in the 55th minute despite a great effort by Gladu to reach the ball. 

“The penalty really tipped the game,” Brown said about the goal. “From that point on, we had to attack and take a lot more risks to get back into the game.”

Shortly afterwards, a free kick by Ramirez was buoyed by a header from Cavaliere towards the goal. When defender Peyton Raun tried to clear the ball, her kick was deflected by Columbia defender Sam Cohn into the goal, raising the score to 0-2 in the 59th minute. 

After that, the Quakers put on some offensive pressure, but were consistently matched by the Lions’ tough defense. Penn was only able to make five shots in the second half, even with five corner kicks. Two on-goal shots, one by forward Sizzy Lawton and the other by midfielder Jackie Bruder, were both saved by Nurkin.

“We had a lot of great buildup play, but we need to get numbers in the box to be dangerous and put it in the back of the net,” Lawton said. “I think one thing working on going into [the next games] is taking your chances and shooting even when it’s not the perfect touch or opportunity… recognizing when the half window is open to get a shot off for a goal or a deflection.”

Despite the lack of scoring, Penn’s defense was able to save the game from being even more lopsided. Scoring opportunities were limited by the backline, and Gladu saved an additional four shots in the second half to bring her total to seven.

“I think the defensive line has been very good at being aggressive and not letting anyone come through to goal,” Gladu said. “Defending is definitely one of the team’s biggest strengths… while there’s always something to work on, I think the defense is doing an excellent job so far.”

This is only the second game in the season that Penn wasn’t able to score a goal, the first being their 3-0 loss to Harvard on September 25.

“We’ve had some tough road opponents. We played a great game today, but we unfortunately were facing the cool side of the game,” Brown said.

The Red and Blue will look to maintain their perfect home record next week against Dartmouth (5-4-1, 1-2 Ivy) and Delaware State (1-10).

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