Turn Back the Clock | Rudy Fuller's first Ivy game for Penn men's soccer
There was a lot going on in the sports world on Sept. 19, 1998. Untainted by the steroids scandal that would break later, the nation was enthralled by the home-run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.
But it was also a day for Penn sports, as it featured the Ivy debut of one of its current coaches.
In last week’s edition of “Turn Back the Clock,” we took a look Al Bagnoli’s debut, so it’s only fair that we take the opportunity this week to recognize another of Penn’s longest tenured coaches: men’s soccer’s Rudy Fuller.
As of late, Fuller has been most well known for bringing home Ivy championships, as recently as last year. However, leading up to his Ivy debut with Penn against Darmouth, Penn men’s soccer was in a far different state.
The Quakers were coming off of a 1-6 Ivy campaign in 1997, and Fuller — always known for his tough nonconference scheduling tendencies — had lost the first two nonconference matchups of his career with Penn, 0-1 in each against William & Mary and Old Dominion.
And with the team on the road in Hanover to take on No. 15 Dartmouth, prospects were not looking strong that the trend would change anytime soon.
In fact, the Red and Blue may have even surprised themselves with the start that they were able to put together.
In the 17th minute, then-freshman striker Evan Anderson put the Quakers up 1-0, giving Penn its first goal of the season as well.
The Big Green — who came into the match 1-1 on the season — threatened to equalize for the remainder of the half, but goalkeeper Michael O’Connor and defender Tom Hughes kept Dartmouth’s dangerous offense of the board.
However, Dartmouth — a team returning 10 starters and plenty of experience — maintained its composure, and the second half was an entirely different story.
Keeping the offensive pressure on the Quakers, the Big Green tied it up by the 51st minute. By the 68th minute, they had taken a commanding 3-1 lead.
Dartmouth then proceeded to hold the Red and Blue at bay for the rest of the match en route to a relatively comfortable victory.
The Quakers would go winless — only managing a single draw — in Fuller’s 1998 Ivy campaign, but that would not be indicative of the rest of his career.
In his 17 years at the helm of the program, Fuller has won three Ivy championships and made four NCAA Tournament appearances, fully turning the program around.
He and the rest of the current program will continue their quest for a repeat of last year’s Ivy championship this Saturday at home against Columbia.