The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Senior forward Paige Kenton keeps the ball away from a Cornell player during the game on Oct. 28. Credit: Sydney Curran

Heading into its last game of the season, Penn women’s soccer was at a fork in the road. On the one hand, there had been various successes throughout the season that demonstrated a marked improvement from the previous campaign. On the other hand, with the team finding itself on the wrong side of too many close games, the results just weren’t there.

After a back-and-forth match that had plenty of drama, ranging from goalie mistakes to a comeback victory, Penn (6-7-3, 1-4-2 Ivy) was able to walk away with the win, beating Cornell (4-5-6, 0-5-2) 2-1 — a gift that marks a bittersweet ending for the team’s seniors who were celebrated at the beginning of the game.

The last time the Red and Blue secured a win in Ivy League women's soccer was over two years ago in a 4-0 rout of Yale. In her second year as head coach, Dr. Krissy Turner is still putting together the pieces to form a team that she hopes will eventually bring home a championship in one of the best women’s soccer conferences in the nation. Despite notching her 300th win as a head coach earlier in the season, most of this year was spent fighting for her first Ivy League victory.

“It's unfortunate because we've really had a season that should be reflected in a better record,” said Turner. “We have played really well. We just haven’t won, so to come back from being down 1-0 is just really great to see for the team and gives us momentum going into next season.”

For much of the first half, Penn never really settled down. With much of Cornell’s attack coming through the midfield, it always seemed like there was an extra player open that Penn wasn’t able to pick up. The Big Red’s ability to apply constant pressure throughout the middle third of the field gave them the upper hand when it came to forcing mistakes out of Penn’s players. 

Credit: Sydney Curran Senior defender Ginger Fontenot heads the ball away from a Cornell player during the game on Oct. 28.

As the end of the first half neared, disaster struck for the home team when the intense pressure Cornell was applying forced an off-target pass that made its way back to Penn’s corner flag. After 38 minutes of play that involved mistake-free distribution from senior goalkeeper Laurence Gladu, this pass unfortunately fell to the feet of Cornell's Tanum Nelson, who put the ball into the back of the an empty net from 40 yards out. Penn would head into halftime down 1-0.

For many players, letting in a goal in such a disastrous manner would follow them throughout the rest of the game. While Gladu was upset immediately following the goal, she used halftime to put it behind her. 

“It was a hard five minutes [following the goal] — I did beat myself up a little bit,” Gladu said. “It's normal. At halftime, I just reset. Then in the second half, you just got to forget about it.”

The reset worked, as Gladu would pull out an impressive reaction save early in the second half to prevent Cornell from doubling its lead off of a corner kick. That was exactly what she was looking for to regain any confidence that she had lost from the previous half. After the initial minutes of the second half had passed, it was clear that Penn's team had come back onto the field with a mission on its mind — securing its coach her first Ivy League victory.

Credit: Sydney Curran Players embrace their family and friends after women's soccer's last game of the season against Cornell on Oct. 28.

Thanks to a formation change that emphasized a more direct approach when attacking that also allowed Penn to have more players in the middle of the field, Cornell struggled to continue dominating the midfield as the team had done previously. With more possession of the ball, Penn was able to put together increasingly dangerous attacks, topped off by first-year forward Mia Fuss scoring the equalizer and her first goal of the season in the 56th minute. Following a tumultuous first half, the team played what was almost a perfect half of soccer to finally get its first Ivy League win of the season.

“It's really bittersweet," senior defender Ginger Fontenot said. "I'm gonna miss it so much, playing with them. It's a shame I don't have more time here. But we ended on a good note, got our coach’s first Ivy win, and that's what's important to us. So we're feeling good.”

For Turner, this season has taught her many lessons that she hopes will convert to more success next year. While she’ll miss all the seniors, she is also very excited to get back to work in the offseason. With plenty of underclassmen who are stepping into major playmaking roles already, Turner is hopeful that this taste of conference success to end the season will be a major motivator for the team when it retakes the field next year. 

“We just have to improve,” said Turner. “We just have to get better at all phases of the game. The technical part. The touches. We have to score more goals next year. There's a lot of parts to the game and it'll be a process.”