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Sophomore midfielder Mallory Lucas dribbles the ball down the field during this season's matchup against Yale on Sept. 30.

Credit: Sydney Curran

Penn women's soccer has had a season of ups and downs, boasting a 5-6-3 overall and a 0-3-2 Ivy record — eerily similar to last season's 3-6-7, 0-5-2 finish. Despite the team still lacking its first conference victory this year, the Red and Blue's 2023 campaign has been characterized by intense competition, moments of brilliance, and opportunities for growth.

Starting strong, the Quakers won their first two games with shutouts, showing a robust defense and the ability to convert on their offensive chances. The next two games, however, ended in losses. These matches emphasized the team's resilience and hinted at areas for improvement as they navigated a challenging lineup of opponents.

Returning to their home turf of Penn Park, the Quakers kept their home record pristine with a 1-0 shutout over Lafayette, marking Krissy Turner's 300th career coaching victory — a momentous milestone. The match saw sophomore midfielder Mallory Lucas shine with the match-winning goal and Penn's staunch defense keep Lafayette's offense in check, holding the team to a mere four shots. The Quakers' start showcased their defensive strength, with three consecutive 1-0 wins at home.

Junior forward Megan Lusher was the hero of the Quakers' sixth match, netting her first collegiate goal for another 1-0 Penn victory. Despite their momentum being halted by a subsequent 1-1 draw with Villanova, the stretch of tight victories displayed the Quakers' offensive dominance and whole-team effort, as the matchup with the Wildcats saw freshman forward Abbey Cook follow in Lusher's footsteps, scoring her first collegiate goal as well.

"After Villanova's goal, our team continued to apply high intensity," Cook said. "That faith and persistence led us to evening the score so quickly afterward. It felt great to score my first collegiate goal and help contribute to our team's success."

Failing to build consistent momentum, Penn women's soccer continued to serve mixed results. The Quakers faced a 2-1 setback to Temple, followed by a narrow 1-0 defeat to Columbia in its Ivy opener. Despite being outshot, though, Penn managed to put more attempts on goal, illustrating the team's ability to challenge even the toughest opponents.

The Red and Blue found their rhythm again with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Iona next. Three different Quakers found the back of the net and the match showcased Penn's potential when firing on all cylinders as the game remains as their most goals in a single match for the season. 

"This was a solid win for us. To score three goals and earn a shutout is a good mid-week result,” Turner said. 

But such a stellar performance by the Quakers has been hard to come by again. The victory over the Gaels closed out Penn's non-conference slate. In the four games that have followed, the Quakers have not come out on top once.

Against Yale, the Quakers managed a 1-1 tie, keeping their home record untainted. Cook continued her impressive freshman campaign by scoring an equalizer, and the match overall was a closely contested affair. But Penn suffered its first home defeat at the hands of Princeton. A single goal separated the two sides, reflecting the narrow margins that have haunted the team all season.

Against the formidable No. 21 Brown, Penn displayed grit but came up short in a 2-1 loss. Lusher was yet again Penn's sole scorer, but Brown's attacking prowess proved slightly too much. Penn managed another draw with Dartmouth, with freshman forward Magali Capdevila's early goal setting the tone for the Quakers.

In summary, Penn's women's soccer has navigated a season marked by defensive mettle through numerous shutouts and close contests. Fresh faces like Cook and Capdevila have stepped up, while seasoned players like senior midfielder Lauren Teuschl and Lusher continue to lead by example.

Off the pitch, the Quakers have set a gold standard in academic excellence, with their 23rd consecutive Team Academic Award underlining the program's holistic approach to student-athlete development. As the season progresses, the Penn women's soccer remains a beacon of resilience, potential, and scholarly achievement.