This was what Penn coach Fran Dunphy envisioned when he brought 6'11" center Geoff Owens on board three years ago. The Quakers junior posted his second double-double of the year -- 11 rebounds to go with a career-high 18 points -- in last nights' 73-56 downing of Lehigh. The sparse crowd in attendance for the game could tell that something big was up from the very start. Owens won his first opening tip of the season and hit a foul-line jumper 16 seconds later to give the Quakers a lead they would never relinquish. "That was a fear that I had, that if [Owens] could really dominate inside we'd be in trouble. And he did," Lehigh coach Sal Metesana said. "I don't know how many [points] he had tonight, but it seemed like every time I looked up he was dunking or tipping one in or getting a follow-up." The first seven and a half minutes of the game saw Owens score six of the Quakers 13 points, including a thunderous dunk over two of the Engineers undersized "big men." "[Matt Langel] called me the play," Owens said of his rim-rattling dunk. "He led me [with his pass] and I didn't even see anybody there when I turned, but then they tried to come over there a little late. It was a pretty easy shot." During this early sequence, Owens also recorded one of his two blocks and one of his three assists on the evening -- stuffing a driving Brett Eppehimer like a Thanksgiving turkey and firing a three-quarter-length-court pass to teammate Michael Jordan for the lay-up and a 13-8 lead. A true testament to Owens' big effort was his play when it mattered most -- the waning minutes of the first half. With the Quakers lead down to 27-22 and less than five minutes remaining before the break, Owens catalyzed the Quakers to a 15-4 run to close the half and break the Engineers' morale. Owens scored on three consecutive trips down the floor, netting six of his 12 first-half points on two back-down layups and a pair of free throws in a 90 second span. Not one to be outplayed on either end of the court, Owens recorded his second block on Engineers center Sah-U-Ra Brown in the midst of his offensive flurry. "I just wish we had been a little more physical in that last five minutes [of the first half]," Metesana said. "They were a little more aggressive and took it to us and kind of knocked it too us a little bit." Not yet done for the night, Owens was sure not to leave his game in the locker room during halftime. The junior pulled down seven rebounds -- including three on the offensive end -- in the second half. All told, Owens recorded more offensive rebounds than the Engineers' starting five. Owens' strong rebounding play on the offensive glass, though, was not the full story -- as all three of these rebounds were also tip-ins. In the final 20 minutes, the man in the middle scored all six of his points from within two feet of the hoop. "I'm always going to the boards hard, always trying to work and get inside position," Owens said. "Sometimes you have a game where you go ten minutes and the ball goes to the other side all the time. But tonight, for three plays in a row there, I just went around my guy, tried to box out, and just got an easy tip-in." More than the statistics tell, the Quakers starting center played a huge role in the win last night. In size and presence alone, Owens gave the Quakers a much-needed inside threat at both ends of the court. "You could see the difference last year playing [Penn] without him," Metesana said sullenly. "We could actually get to the rim a little bit." Setting career highs in points and assists -- and coming within one rebound of yet another -- in only 25 minutes of action, Owens' inside play was key to the Quakers victory. "I think [Geoff] is pretty well back to normal -- I thought the big fella did a great job with second-chance opportunities in the second half," Dunphy said. "But I'm not surprised by that because of his work ethic. I don't think there are a lot of guys out there who work as hard as he does or wants it as bad as he does."
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So far in the 1998-'99 season, the Penn women's swimming team has been unable to break through for the ever-slippery 'W'. Though Eastern League home losses to Cornell and Princeton have the Quakers off to the same 0-2 start they had last season, the team remains optimistic about its chances in today's meet against Swarthmore which starts with the men at 5:30 pm in Penn's Scheerr Pool. The Quakers picked up their only victory of the 1997-'98 season over the Garnet, defeating the Division III Swarthmore squad by the final tally of 118-75. Seemingly a cure for all that plagued the Quakers, the Swarthmore match a year ago saw the Penn team win nine different races. "We know that they're a little bit better than last year, but we're trying to focus more on our own racing and on racing whoever is next to us," junior captain Jen Walsh said. "I think our team this year is a lot stronger and has a lot more depth. We definitely have a good chance of at least matching [last year's margin of victory]." This year, though, the Garnet come into the Quakers Scheerr Pool as a tougher, more mature squad. "Swarthmore women have some Division III National Qualifiers on their team, so they're going to be a team that we need to pay attention to," Penn coach Kathy Lawlor-Gilbert said. "They're much improved over last year's squad." · Just 10 days after defeating Cornell to open their Ivy League season with a bang, the Quakers lost big to Princeton to drop their 1998-'99 record to 1-1. But if history is any indication, then the cure to this reversal of fortunes may be upon the Quakers as they host area rival Swarthmore tonight. The Quakers handled Swarthmore easily last year -- defeating the Garnet 127-71 for their largest victory of the 1997-'98 season. "I'm going to try some people in different events on both squads," Lawlor-Gilbert said. "Swarthmore men are not quite as strong as their women."
Penn quarterback Matt Rader and running back Jim Finn can both set new Penn records this weekend at Cornell. Already guaranteed a share of the '98 Ivy League crown with a 41-10 bashing of Harvard last Saturday on its home turf, the Penn football team heads to Cornell this Saturday looking to finish the season as the undisputed Ivy champs. "It's great. This is what we worked for for four years. Winning a championship just proves that we work together successfully as a group," senior running back and co-captain Jim Finn said. "We haven't done anything just yet -- we've got to go up there and win, and then we can celebrate." · Adding to the suspense inherent in having the outright league title on the line, several Quakers are heading into the final game of the season with distinct shots at breaking long-standing team records. Finn needs only 41 yards to break Bryan Keys' Penn single season rushing record of 1,302 yards, which was set nine years ago and only three touchdowns to break Howard Berry's 81-year-old single-season scoring record. Yet the two-year offensive starter, who has rushed for more than 41 yards in 14 of his 15 starts at tailback and ran for six touchdowns four weeks ago at Brown, remains noncommittal -- downplaying his individual accords on the season. "It's not really a big deal," Finn said. "It just means that we ran the ball successfully this year, and our offensive line and fullbacks and tight ends did a good job blocking for me." Not to be outdone, senior quarterback Matt Rader, who currently sits at No. 3 on the Quakers all-time single-season passing list with 1,883 yards, needs to hook up with his upstart core of receivers for 315 yards to overtake Jimmy McGeehan's five year old single-season record. If Rader can be content to amass 240 yards, however, he'll still be assured of passing McGeehan for first place in career passing yardage for the Quakers. "The individual awards come second," Rader stressed. "It may be nice [to break them], but the real goal of our team is to win the Ivy championship outright. "We're going to run our basic offense and the same game plan and try to execute it. If it happens, it happens." Quakers coach Al Bagnoli, who is looking to win his third outright title in seven years at the helm of the Penn team, agrees. "If we can accomplish winning the game, which is the most important thing, we'll try to [break the records]. But we won't do it out of the context of the normal game," Bagnoli said. "We won't put Matt Rader back in if we're up by 25 so he can throw 12 more passes." · Spurred on by two big-play touchdowns by senior co-captain Joe Piela -- a 74-yard punt return and a 25-yard interception return -- the Quakers won last year's end-of-season clash with the Big Red at Franklin Field, 33-20. With a 37-yard interception return and a 21-yard punt return which each gave the Quakers excellent field position last week against the Crimson, Piela may be primed for another Big Red blood-letting. "When I get out there on punt returns, I just try to get the ball back and try to get the offense good field position to put the ball in the end zone," Piela said. "Hopefully I can make a couple of plays like I did last year against Cornell and get in the end zone." Bagnoli, looking at Piela's continued special teams and defensive prowess, sees this play as a perfect compliment to the Quakers high-powered offense. "A lot of our offense has really been reflected in the short field -- [and] it was no different this past week," Bagnoli said. "The first touchdown, the defense was in there three-and-out, they punt, we return the punt 35 yards, and all of a sudden you look over and the ball is on the 32-yard line. Short field -- then you can really make some plays." · The Quakers' offensive line remained solid in the win last weekend, as Rader wasn't sacked on the afternoon. Even though this year's line features five starters new to their positions, the front five has given up just ten sacks to the 31 that the Quakers defense has inflicted and has given Rader time to complete 63 percent of his passes on the year. · With last week's stifling of the Crimson offense, the Penn defense remains the 20th best in Division I-AA. The Quakers run defense has even more impressive statistics -- fourth best in the nation at only 83.3 yards given up per contest. · Records, returns and rigorous defense aside, the main focus of this weekend remains winning the final game -- and with it the undisputed Ivy title. "We won [last week] and that was great and now we have a share of the championship," Piela said. "But nobody wants to share the championship -- it's like kissing your sister. So what we want to do is win it outright. We want to got up there and prove to everybody that we're the best team in the league."
As if they could sense that the fate of their season, the legacy of their four-year careers and the safety of Franklin Field's goal posts hung in the balance, the seniors of the Penn football team played one of their finest collective games of the season Saturday, downing Harvard 41-10. "We don't have lots of seniors numerically, but obviously we have some kids that have had an impact on our season -- Matt Rader, Jim Finn, Darren MacDonald, Joe Piela just to name a few," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "In big situations, those kids have got to play. And I think that's one of the things that has been consistent so far is that in big situations our marquee players have played at the level they're supposed to play at." Determined to pick up one Ivy title in their four years in West Philadelphia, it was fitting that the Penn seniors took over from the very start. Quakers senior defensive lineman Larry Rascoe recorded the first Red and Blue tackle of the day. Then, following two Crimson incompletions, Penn senior co-captain Joe Piela gave the offense excellent field position with a 21 yard punt return, deep into Crimson territory. Three plays later, the other co-captain, Jim Finn, rushed eight yards for his 14th touchdown in '98, giving the home team a lead it would not relinquish. "It's definitely nice to make big plays, and we got the offensive ball on the 32 yard line," Piela said. "It's good that we went three-and-out as a defense, and we got the good punt return, and the guys up front did a good job. That kind of set the tempo -- the offense got the ball and they put it right in. Right there, that's how you want to start off the game." Finn -- closing in on Bryan Keys' Penn single-season rushing record of 1,302 yard -- did not stop his endzone march with that touchdown. Rather, he rolled over the Crimson defense for three TDs in the process of gaining his eighth 100-yard rushing effort of '98. In addition to his punt return that set up Finn's first score, Piela had an interception return which saw the defensive back run, jump, spin and stumble his way for 37 yards to the Crimson eight, setting up the Quakers third touchdown of the afternoon. Lost in the midst of his two vaunted returns, however, was what could have been Piela's finest defensive performance of the season -- a nine tackle, one interception affair. The only Quakers defensive player who bettered Piela was fittingly senior middle linebacker Darren MacDonald. With 11 tackles, including one of the defense's eight for a loss on the day, MacDonald raised his season total to 78 and helped to guarantee at least a share of the Ivy title 300 miles back down Interstate 95. "It's unbelievable. I was in tears with four minutes left in the game," MacDonald said. "This is the greatest feeling that I've ever had." It was obvious from the outset that the Quakers seniors came to play, and did not finish playing until the final whistle had blown and the final piece of the goalpost had sunk to the depths of the Schuylkill. On the Quakers final drive of the day -- already up 34-10 and with less than seven minutes remaining until party-central arrived -- senior Matt Rader emphatically showed the dogged determination that is football's class of '99. On a third-and-10, facing six Crimson defensive backs who could not be shaken in their coverage of his four wide-outs, Rader tucked the ball away, and scrambled 24 yards down the left side of the field. Wrapped up by several Crimson defenders, the senior kept fighting and stretching until he was finally pinned at the Harvard two-yard-line. Two plays later, Finn ran for his third touchdown of the afternoon. "When they really needed a play, Matt Rader just made a play. He's a difference maker in this league," Harvard coach Tim Murphy said of Rader's 15-for-25, 260 yard effort. But the outstanding performances of Penn football's senior class were not limited to just the familiar faces and multi-year starters. With the Crimson driving into Quakers territory late in the third quarter, it was a hit by senior defensive back Bruce Rossignol Jr. that caused Crimson quarterback Brad Wilford to cough up the ball. Seven plays and 64 yards later, senior running back Jason McGee, displaced as starter last season by Finn, broke through with his first touchdown of '98. The Quakers defensive line -- which limited the Chris Menick-less Crimson to under 3.5 yards a carry -- featured senior end Justin Gallagher and Rascoe -- who recorded two sacks apiece and threatened the Crimson's two quaterbacks the entire afternoon. "I think we got a lot more pressure on Harvard this year, which put [the Crimson quarterback] back on his heels a little bit. There were always guys in his face or hitting him as he was throwing the ball," Piela said. Not to be outdone, the line of the other side of the ball -- led by seniors Jesse Simonin and Aaron Atkins -- kept Rader protected and unsacked. As if they didn't know before the game had started, when all was said and done, all 14,909 fans in the stands for Saturday's Ivy-clinching romp knew what they had witnessed. Simply put, the Quakers senior class had come to win -- and they did, as clearly indicated both in the boxscore and in the aluminum remains submerged in the Schuylkill River.
After a year in which only one team played in the postseason, Philly basketball is set to return to form. The Big 5 -- an unofficial grouping of Philadelphia's Division I men's basketball teams whose nickname alone is indicative of some of the best college basketball in the country and synonymous with postseason play. Last season was an aberration in the years of continued success for the Big 5, however, as out of Penn, St. Joseph's, La Salle, Villanova and Temple, only the latter was able to make it to the postseason. Even then, the Owls were shellacked by 10th-seeded West Virginia in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But with Penn, Temple and Villanova all returning at least four starters, and Drexel -- Philadelphia's one non-Big 5 team -- returning its entire 12-man roster, the 1998-99 season promises a rejuvenation for area college basketball programs, and an abundance of tight city matchups in the upcoming months. "All three [of our city] games for us are very difficult. No matter how good, or how bad someone is doing, it seems like whenever the Philadelphia teams hook up and play each other it really doesn't matter -- it's always pretty much a tough game," Drexel coach Bill Herrion said. "The Big 5 are great games for us. On top of our league being competitive and being difficult, they're real good non-conference games that help us get ready for our tournament and our league." With the Big 5 playing two more internal games than last season, and three first-team All-Big 5 selections returning, look for collegiate basketball courts in and around Philadelphia to be rocking non-stop long into March. · The defending Atlantic 10 regular-season champion Temple Owls (2-0 in 1998-99; 21-9, 14-4 Atlantic 10 in 1997-98) begin the year ranked No. 7 in the nation in both The Associated Press and coaches polls, and are the team to beat in the Philadelphia area. Arguably coach John Chaney's best team to date, the Owls return six of their top eight players, and replace the two that they lost with a pair of McDonald's High School All-Americans. The only other time Chaney has had the luxury of rostering two McDonald's All-Americans, the Owls made it to the Elite Eight in 1991. Already posting neutral-court victories over perennial powers Georgetown and Wake Forest, Chaney's Owls face an even tougher end to 1998 with upcoming road games at Penn, No. 3 Stanford, No. 22 Indiana and Fresno State. Playing a strong schedule in a Atlantic 10 conference that saw five teams win 20 games a year ago, the Owls may be a vastly improved team, yet still end the season with a worse record. The key to this year's Owls squad is first-team Atlantic 10 center Lamont Barnes. The junior averaged 14 points and eight boards a year ago, to go with 74 blocks on defense. Combined with freshmen Kevin Lyde -- one of the two McDonald's All-Americans -- and Ron Rollerson, the Owls have three 6'10" fighters and a front line that will be a force for any program in the nation to reckon with. "Temple poses a tremendous threat to us -- inside especially," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "They're just a solid, solid team, and a very good defensive team, so they're going to be a very good basketball team this year. We'll certainly have our hands full, but that's a great challenge for us and we're looking forward to it." As anyone knows from watching the Owls over the years, the match up-zone defense and the quick backcourt is what has gotten Chaney to the NCAA Tournament 15 of his 16 years at the helm in North Philadelphia. With Argentine junior Pepe Sanchez at the point, and redshirt freshman Mark Karcher -- the other McDonald's All-American -- at the third guard position, the Owls have no shortage of players willing to take the ball away on "D" and then bring the offense up the court. Sanchez led the Atlantic 10 with 93 steals last season and was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year -- this season, he already has seven steals in the team's two wins. The lone senior on the team, shooting guard Rasheed Brokenborough, went through a shooting slump in 1997-98 that saw his points-per-game average fall from 15.8 his sophomore year to just 11.8 last season. But even if his vigorous off-season practice regimen has not helped Brokenborough regain his top form, the Owls only have to look as far as sophomore backups Lynn Greer and Quincy Wadley -- who each hit for over 40 percent of his shots from three-point land last year -- to pick up the slack. For Chaney, who has not made it past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament in five years, this year's Owls team may be the one that is able to remove the proverbial monkey from his back. · Two years removed from a team that saw Tim Thomas, Jason Lawson and Alvin Williams move on to the NBA, the 1998-99 Villanova (12-17, 8-10 Big East) squad is once again on the move. The Wildcats never did get a consistent starting line-up down last year, but after losing only one scholarship senior, in 1998-99 they can reap the benefits of returning nine of their top 10 players. The Wildcats will be led by senior forward Howard Brown, who established himself as Villanova's most consistent performer on an inconsistent team last season. Brown, a first-team Big Five selection, came into his own in the latter stages of the year, averaging 13.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. Joining Brown in the Wildcats senior class is 6'3" point guard John Celestand. A starter in 21 games as a junior, Celestand led the team with 13.2 points and 5.1 assists a contest. Inside, the Wildcats are the biggest in the Philadelphia area, thanks to 7'1" senior center Rafal Bigus and 6'10" junior power forward Malik Allen. Bigus started 17 games for Villanova last season and has two inches over every other Big 5 center, while Allen brings back his team-leading 5.8 rebounds per game. In Brown and Celestand, the Wildcats have tons of big-game experience, and may be able to pull out several upsets, but in the Big East preseason coaches poll, Villanova was picked to finish only sixth in the 13-team conference. · Perhaps the polar opposite of both the Owls and the Wildcats is potential Big 5 doormat St. Joseph's. The Hawks (11-17, 3-13 Atlantic 10) shocked the basketball world by winning the Atlantic 10 regular season and conference tournaments and advancing to the Sweet 16 two years ago, but the team has fallen markedly in the short time since. The Hawks lost four starters from their last-place Atlantic 10 finish a year ago, and with no seniors on the team, are unlikely to either improve upon their League low offensive output of 66 points per game or break the .500 mark this season. Their lone returning starter, junior forward Robert Haskins, will undoubtedly be called on to average a lot more than the 11.5 points and 7.0 rebounds he contributed a year ago, and his performance will likely dictate how far the Hawks go this season. Redshirt junior Frank Wilkins was the sixth man for most of last season, and as a 6'9" lefty who can shoot the three, may be the wild card on the 1998-99 squad. The Hawks are relying heavily on newcomers this season, as evidenced by the fact that freshman Larry Jennings is likely to steal the starting point guard role from junior Tim Brown. Junior Andre Howard, a transfer from Pittsburgh, and sophomore Naim Crenshaw, academically ineligible last season, are other newcomers that will be asked to assume large roles in a hole-filled team. St. Joseph's is in the same position personnel-wise now that Villanova was in a year ago, and as a developing team, big things should not be expected out of the Hawks for at least another year. · Possibly Philadelphia's most forgotten team, La Salle (9-18, 5-11 Atlantic 10) has not had a winning record in five years. Coach William "Speedy" Morris led his Explorers to an NCAA-best 30-2 record during the 1989-90 season, but since La Salle moved from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to the Atlantic 10 four years ago they've seen nothing but the underside of the .500 mark. Seven Explorers return this season, led by third-team All-Atlantic 10 junior Donnie Carr. The shooting guard, who was the leading freshman scorer in the nation two years ago and struck for 17.9 ppg last season, is the first option for the Explorers on offense, but his career shooting percentage of 35 percent is troublesome. Continued strong play inside from 6'7", 254-pound senior K'Zell Wesson should help La Salle start to reverse its recent average of being outrebounded by almost nine boards a game. Wesson was one of 19 players in the country to average a double-double last season, netting 13.2 and pulling down 10.7 boards. The Explorers, like St. Joseph's, though, are handing the ball off to a freshman point guard in Julian Blanks, and his distributing skill will be a determining factor for a squad that has eight players who stand over 6'7" tall. Another highly touted freshman, small forward Rasual Butler, becomes eligible to play for the Explorers in mid-December -- and is likely to form a potent offensive trio with Carr and Wesson. Should La Salle improve its defensive consistency and raise shooting percentage, it may rise as high as the middle of a crowded Atlantic 10 West, which features likely tournament teams in Xavier, George Washington and Dayton. · Philadelphia's sixth Division I men's basketball team, and lone non-Big 5 member, Drexel, promises an exciting season as they return their entire roster. The Dragons (13-15, 10-8 America East) are trying to better last season's effort, which was the first time in coach Herrion's eight-year tenure that the team did not have a winning record and reach the Atlantic East championship game. "I think if there's anything to be said about having everyone back-- even though last year we were a little bit down [from years past] -- it's that we're a year older and everyone has been through it at least one year or two years, which will be worth a lot," Herrion said. The Dragons coach stressed the "experience" and "cohesiveness" that the 1998-99 Dragons squad brings to the table -- a team which has compiled a .500 record against Big 5 stalwarts St. Joseph's, La Salle and Penn over the past three years. Led by scoring force and junior center Joe Linderman -- American East Rookie of the Year two years ago and first-team All-League selection last season -- the Dragons are similar to Temple and Villanova in their strong inside play. Linderman finished third in the America East a year ago in scoring with 18.4 points per game, fifth in rebounding with 8.5 per contest, and sixth in shooting percentage with a 52 percent average. Truly a multi-faceted force to be reckoned with, Linderman tallied 12 double-doubles in his sophomore campaign. "Linderman is a real fine player. I think he is really going to have a terrific season this year," Dunphy said. "I expect big things from Drexel -- they'll be a tough game for us." Outside, Dragons senior shooting guard Mike DeRocckis and junior point guard Bryant Coursey form a backcourt that can more than adequately compliment its inside play. DeRocckis, a second-team All-American East selection, averaged 15 points a night and knocked down a three-pointer in all but two games last season. Despite missing the final ten games of last season due to a "violation of internal team policies," Coursey still had a solid year, coming through with seven points and a team-leading four dishes per contest. With a year of maturity, development, and improved cohesiveness under their belt, the Dragons should again pose a formidable challenge in Philadelphia basketball. · This winter, as 11 intra-city games are set to be played amongst the Big 5 and Drexel, men's college basketball is poised to make a devastating return to the Philadelphia area. Penn's famed Palestra will be as boisterous as ever this season, as St. Joseph's and the Quakers combine to host five Big 5 games on the glorious hardcourt. In addition, both Temple and La Salle feature stadiums that are under a year old, and both should be filled to capacity night-in and night-out during what looks to be some very exciting college hoops. As a few teams return nearly identical squads as the ones they featured a year ago, and a few others seem poised to turn over their reins to a newer generation, the 1998-99 season promises to be one of the most competitive ones in Philadelphia's storied basketball history.
Dan Solomito, Penn's lone recruit this season, will provide added depth at the small forward position. Penn freshman Dan Solomito is used to going it alone. In his father's pursuit of better job opportunities in the television production industry, Solomito and his family moved from Boca Raton, Fla., to Montclair, N.J. months before his freshman year in high school -- leaving behind his home, his friends and his life of the previous 13 years. In his pursuit of a high school basketball program, Solomito moved back to his old school in Boca Raton for his junior and senior years -- leaving behind his family and his two-year-old New Jersey life. And tomorrow night, when the Penn men's basketball team steps onto the floor of the Palestra for its home opener against No. 8 Kansas, Solomito will be going it alone again -- as the only freshman on the '98-'99 Quakers squad. Taking a circular route to West Philadelphia, for the past five years the 6'6" Solomito has been without a full-time home -- torn between a life in Florida, a life in New Jersey, and summers with friends in between. "My father had worked at ABC in soap operas and was a technical director for 15 years on All My Children, and he won three Emmy Awards for that, which I think is pretty incredible," Solomito said. "We moved to Florida thinking it would be a better place to raise kids, and my father wanted to start his own company. Unfortunately things didn't work out, so we moved back to the same town my parents had lived in." After spending countless hours searching out academically solid schools that offered worthwhile basketball programs in northern New Jersey, Solomito and his parents settled upon Montclair-Kimberly Academy. "When we started looking at schools, academics was a given. However, it was just as important to find a school that had a strong basketball program because that's who Dan was," Judi Solomito, Dan's mother, said. "But the Montclair-Kimberly program [turned out to be] terrible. I was really disappointed because they had told me it was a strong team, and it wasn't. "Dan would have rather played for a team where he was on the bench, striving to get better and working at getting better than being on a weak team where he was the star." And so, after two years in New Jersey, a 16-year old Solomito made the decision to return to Florida and his middle-school basketball coach as a live-in boarding student at Boca Raton basketball power St. Andrew's. A difficult decision for Solomito, he was away from his parents, his older sister Kate -- who simultaneously moved away to the University of Rhode Island -- and his family's basketball-nurturing environment for the first time in his life. "It was kind of devastating that my parents couldn't see any of my games," Solomito said. "But I kind of made a little deal with them. I told my parents I'd be back up here for college [basketball]. I promised I'd be in the northeast." Two years and 1,200 miles later, the small forward is indeed back in the northeast, on the floor of the Palestra shooting mid-range jumpers and playing defense. Based on reactions coming out of practice this fall, the coaching staff, for one, is glad he chose to come back to the area. "Dan has good skills. He's a good shooter, he's a good passer, and he knows the game well," Quakers coach Fran Dunphy said. "When I first saw him last year, I said to him, 'Dan, you've got to get into the weight room because this adjustment that you've got to make from high school to college is a tough one.' So a couple of weeks later, I talked to him and I said, 'Are you in the weight room three days a week now?', and he said 'no'," the coach continued. "And I shook my head for a second, and he said 'I'm in there five days a week'. So that's really what I like to hear -- that dedication to playing the game and playing it well." Solomito's dedication to the game has never been a question to those around him. His family, his coaches and his friends all realize that basketball is the center of this young man's life. "Ninth grade -- Dan's already living in New Jersey and been away from us for a year. [St. Andrew's] wins seven rounds and makes it all the way to the state finals in Tallahassee," John O'Connell, Solomito's coach at St. Andrew's, recalled. "The night before the championship, Dan, as a 14-year old freshman, shows up at our door, 'Coach, can I sleep on your floor?' That was unbelievable." "Dan is one of the most dedicated people I know," Penn sophomore and friend from Montclair, Jen Fink said. "We'd go to games down the Jersey shore this summer, and we'd be waiting around for 20 to 25 minutes after the game for him to finish up, get off the court and get his shit going. And then he gets up the next day and does it again. "He doesn't care where he is or what he's doing -- if there's a basketball hoop, then he's there." Previous to playing this summer in the heralded Jersey Shore Basketball League, Solomito flourished in his years back with O'Connell and St. Andrew's in Florida. Solomito averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists per game as the team's primary ball-handler, and earned First-Team All-Boca Raton honors. As a team, however, St. Andrew's did not enjoy the success of years past. A strong program which has former players currently rostered on three Division I teams, St. Andrew's finished 12-13 while playing their "strongest schedule ever". "Last year we played the No. 2 team in the country, Miami, senior," O'Connell recalled. "The team was clearly overmatched, but Dan wasn't. "Once you got the right matchup, boy you could really take advantage of it with a guy who can handle the ball so well at 6'6"." The fact that he is a former point guard, as well as the only new player on the '98-'99 team, works to Solomito's benefit -- more time can be dedicated to sharpening his play and working him into an historically winning system. "The last three years we've had two and three guys that coach is trying to prepare for a game situation, so it takes a little bit of pressure off of Dan," Quakers senior tri-captain and starting small forward Jed Ryan said. "We try to help him out as much as possible, and he's learning pretty quickly." Despite being a quick learner, Solomito remains near the bottom of the Quakers depth chart. Ryan is a three-year starter, and seniors Frank Brown and Mike Sullivan will both see significant minutes. The freshman likely will at first assume the role of the ninth or tenth man -- crucial at times, but superfluous at others. "We are relatively deep at that position this year," Dunphy agreed. "But it's [good in a way], since it's not like we need him to play right away and get us 15 points a game and seven rebounds and four assists and never turn the ball over." Solomito agreed with Dunphy's assessment of this scenario, passing on Ivy rival Princeton to spend a year as an understudy to a large and talented Quakers senior class. "One big factor when I was choosing college was looking at who's there, and who will be there in the future," Solomito said. "Right now, I don't know where I fit in as far as playing time -- I'm just trying to take it all in, learn, and work my hardest to hopefully get a chance to prove myself out there." For the freshman who seems to have finally found a long-term home as the Quakers small forward of the future, tomorrow night will mark Solomito's first appearance of many in the Palestra. "The first game is Kansas; it's home, and my family will be there. It just adds to it all. I'm really looking forward to the season, and to a fun four years here."
The Penn men's basketball team faces No. 7 Temple and No. 8 Kansas in games one and two. Less than two weeks before the start of the Penn men's basketball season, excitement and optimism reign throughout the hallowed hardcourts of the Palestra. With ten players returning from the team that ended last season second in the Ivy League, the Quakers (17-12, 10-4 Ivies in '97) are trying to make it into the post-season for the first time in four years. Official Quakers practice began on Saturday, October 17, and the team has been working out daily since. Combined with the annual Red and Blue Scrimmage during the ticket-line camp-out, the Penn team is well-prepared for their tough early-season schedule. "Practice is going well. Everyone realizes that we have the potential, but we still have to prove it," Quakers freshman forward Dan Solomito said. "We have a lot of talent, and now we have to go out there and show teams how well we can play. Right now, we have to step it up right away and be the best that we can as soon as we can, so we can challenge teams like Kansas and Temple, and let people know how good we really are." · Facing two nationally ranked teams -- No. 8 Kansas and No. 7 Temple -- back-to-back to start the '98-99 season is a huge change from the Quakers' early-season schedule of the last two seasons. The past two years, the Quakers hosted the likes of Rice, Lafayette, Towson State and Lehigh as early-season challengers. "I like our schedule; it's certainly a tremendous challenge for us," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "We'll certainly have our hands full, but we'll see what we can do by the end of the year." · The Quakers have chosen three captains for the '98-99 season -- senior forwards Paul Romanczuk and Jed Ryan, and junior point guard Michael Jordan. Each of the tri-captains is at least a two-year starter, and each has averaged double-digits in scoring the past two years. In addition, both Romanczuk and Jordan have tied up All-Ivy and All-Big 5 Honors for two years running. · The return of 6'11" junior center Geoff Owens, who blocked 40 shots as a freshman before sitting out last season due to a medical condition, has provided a big boost for the Red and Blue. With Owens back on the court, 6'7" forwards Romanczuk and Ryan can both move down into their more natural positions, giving the Quakers the ability to match up inside with almost any opponent on their schedule. "To have two big guys inside is going to help us out a lot," Ryan said. "It's good because Paul and I don't have to match up against 6'11" or 7'0" tall [opponents] anymore, and we have someone to give the ball to in the post other than Paul or myself." · A hopeful sign for the Quakers is that the injury bug has not flared up thus far in practice. Senior forwards Frank Brown and Ryan, who missed 16 and five games respectively a year ago, have each been practicing without much hindrance. Daily icing of sprained ankles and other early-season woes aside, almost every member of the Quakers squad has been able to give the team a full workout day-in and day-out. · Kansas, on the contrary, is trying its darndest to come into the season opener at the Palestra on November 17 with a depleted roster -- already two of their key players are out until at least December. Jayhawks (35-4 in 1997-98) senior forward T.J. Pugh will miss the first four weeks of '98 with a stress fracture in his left ankle, and junior forward Ashante Johnson -- a Utah transfer -- underwent surgery on a broken right kneecap last Friday and will be sidelined for six weeks. Both Johnson and Pugh are 6'8", and their absence could allow the Quakers more freedom under the net. In last season's 89-71 Jayhawks win over the Quakers, Pugh scored 13 points and picked up three rebounds and a block in his 28 minutes of play. Without the senior, Kansas only features five players who averaged over 10 minutes of action per game one year ago. · The Big 5 just got a little tougher this past week with word that La Salle (9-18 in 1997-98) freshman forward Rasual Butler -- out of Philadelphia's Roman Catholic High School -- had received a qualifying score and is be eligible to begin playing for the Explorers in mid-December. "That kid will make a difference," Dunphy said. "It'll be hard for him right away, but I think eventually he will be a very good player there. He'll probably play against us later in the year [January 14]." · As of yesterday, non-chairback season tickets were still available for only $40 to Penn students. In addition, single game tickets can still be had for both the home opener with Kansas and the November 23 matchup with Temple. Ticket office employees cautioned, however, that the Jayhawks matchup will probably sell out by mid-to-late next week.
This past Saturday, in between a St. Bernard fighting off a pesky opposing striker for the ball and boisterous rants from fraternity gatherings on both sidelines, the Penn men's soccer team actually had a game with Yale on Rhodes Field. The Homecoming match itself, however, was the craziest sight of all -- a frightful 5-0 Quakers-bashing at the hands of Yale. "I don't really know what to say about this one," Quakers junior goalkeeper and tri-captain Michael O'Connor said. "No one was strong today. No one really had a good game today. It's definitely hard to take." Entering the game, the Quakers (4-10-1, 0-5-1 Ivy) were on a high, winners of three of their last four. After their come-from-behind win Wednesday against UMBC, Penn had built up some momentum they hoped would carry them into this contest. "Even as of 12 o'clock [Saturday] we were pumped. The guys were coming in, and seemed ready to go, and I'm feeling really good about the game," Quakers coach Rudy Fuller said. "But for whatever reason, we weren't able to get it done." The Quakers' troubles on the day started early -- just ten minutes in, Elis (8-6-1, 3-2-0) junior midfielder Chung-Ming Ip volleyed a shot from just inside the box over the head of a leaping O'Connor to take a 1-0 lead. The Quakers played determined not to lose the final home game of seniors Jared Boggs and Ralph Maier, though, and generated prime scoring chances soon after falling behind. But the Quakers could not tally the equalizer, as both freshman striker Evan Anderson and junior striker Reggie Brown sent shots wide of net. With these unrealized opportunities went the momentum, and the game quickly shifted back to the Elis' end of the field. "By midway into the first half, it seemed like we were watching them play a little bit," Quakers junior defender Tom Hughes said. "We should have been right up on them, blocking the passes, and talking a lot more, and that was frustrating." The play that broke the Quakers' back was the second Yale goal, in the 24th minute. Elis junior midfielder Hiro Suzuki, whose slight 5'7" build was offset by his skilled attacking abilities, made a long run up the middle, going through, around and under three Quakers defenders in the box, finishing with a shot into the lower left corner of the net for the 2-0 Elis lead. "I saw a hole in the defense, so I ran right through it, and [Elis midfielder Matt Schmidt] played a perfect ball at me," Suzuki said. "I got to the top of the box and three guys were around me, so then I toe-poked it, and it bounced right over the goalkeeper's hands. It was a good goal." Less than four minutes after this defensive breakdown the Phi Delt St. Bernard -- possibly upset at the liberties that the Elis were taking with some of his Quakers brothers -- decided to join in. The dog kept the dangerous Suzuki, who had a goal and two assists on the day, and the Elis away from the ball for over a minute until he was returned to the sideline. This was possibly the longest stretch of time the Elis were without the ball on the day, though, as the Quakers often found themselves unable to keep track of the ball in the midfield and back. "The passing was awful the whole game. I think almost everyone was guilty of giving away passes for no reason," Boggs said. "If the passing is off, everything else just compounds. If you lose possession, then you have to run more on defense, and you get more tired." When the home team was able to get up the field and generate a bit of offense, Elis sophomore goalkeeper Danny Moss was able to stifle the chances. Unfortunately for the Quakers, Moss' box score consisted of only one save, as opposed to nine for O'Connor. Down 3-0 at the break, whatever slim chance the Quakers had at turning the game around disintegrated barely three minutes into the second half, as Elis junior forward Neil Guilbert put home a rebound that had caromed off of O'Connor's chest. With a late goal, the 11th of the year by striker Jac Gould, the Elis matched their five-goal margin of victory over the Quakers of a year ago. Late in the game, with the team down five, the Quakers bench was cleared, and three walk-ons saw their first action of '98. In addition, Quakers freshman keeper Jeff Groeber replaced O'Connor and saw action in his third game of '98, saving one shot in the last 20 minutes. Despite the festive post-game Homecoming atmosphere, which included "a lovely spread of food" according to several Quakers parents, the day was an overall disappointment for a Quakers team that had played much better soccer in the previous two weeks. "It was a very disappointing result, especially for the last home game for Ralph and Jared. For all they've given the program, I was really hoping we could get a 'W' for them," Fuller said. "But we didn't come out ready to play, and we got punished for it."
Penn coach Patrick Baker called the 1-0 win over Groege Mason the biggest in the school's history. Before the women's soccer team took the field at George Mason yesterday, Penn coach Patrick Baker used the retelling of an allegory to motivate his team. Baker encouraged his team to act like the wolf, which while stalking its prey goes miles without blinking. The point was for the Quakers to play the entire 90 minutes without losing their focus. Whether the story had anything to do with it or not, Penn was able to play its entire game without blinking, coming away with a 1-0 road victory over the Patriots. The win over the No. 26 Patriots (11-6-1), who are also ranked fifth in the Mid-Atlantic region, was the Quakers' (10-4-1) first win this season over a nationally ranked opponent and was a major step forward on the national scene for the Quakers. "This was probably our biggest win ever in the program's history," Baker said. "[George Mason] is a nationally ranked team, and it's great for us to beat them, and to beat someone ahead of us regionally." Going in, the Quakers, ranked eight in the Mid-Atlantic region, expected to be challenged thoroughly by the Patriots, who were a perfect 6-0 in George Mason Stadium on the year. The fact that this was George Mason's 'Senior Day,' and that Patriots All-American goalkeeper Jaime Pagliarulo was named to the Soccer America Team of the Week last Sunday did not lend hope to the Quakers either. Statistically, the Patriots did not disappoint, coming out and dominating the first 45 minutes of play. The home team outshot the Quakers six to three and amassed an astounding nine corner kicks in the first frame --Eeight more than the Quakers took on the day. But junior goalkeeper Anne Kluetmeier and the Quakers defense came up big, stuffing the Patriots on every single one of their first half chances. At the half, Baker again spoke of the wolf, reminding his Quakers of the need to string together a full game of play without a breakdown. Following the lead of their coach and his emotionally charged speech, the Quakers responded after the break. With tighter play, Penn limited the Patriots offense play while breaking out with some of its own. Quakers senior defender Kelly Stevens completed the upset, stunning the Patriots squad in the 76th minute for her seventh goal on the year -- the only one the Quakers would need on the day. "We won the ball inside our defensive half, and [freshman midfielder] Sabrina [Fenton] made a great run down the left side," Baker said. "When she was running at the defender, the ball got loose and she was able to turn and pass to Stevens who was open to score. "People have been scrutinizing their team, especially their defense, but [George Mason] had an All-American in goal and she made four phenomenal saves. We actually had some better chances in the first half that she saved." Stevens led the Quakers with four shots in the match, while junior striker Andrea Callaghan contributed a couple more which were not recorded as official shots, leading Baker to doubt the accuracy of the final shot count which favored George Mason 13-6. The Patriots were able to mount a late-game surge in a valiant attempt to redeem their Senior Day. But Kluetmeier was able to turn aside shots from Patriots defenders Paige Henry and Lisa Berra in the last five minutes to preserve her ninth shutout in '98. "We saw this as the the first day for the rest of our program, and the girls stepped it up and did a phenomenal job," Baker said. With this win in their last non-conference game of the season, the Quakers upped their non-Ivy mark to a spotless 10-0-0 in '98. More importantly, though, the Quakers demonstrated that it can be Baker's 'wolf' -- the unblinking predator that they need to be as they head into their final two games. Daily Pennsylvanian staff writer Kate Goldhaber contributed to this article.
Penn freshman walk-on David Whitten will meet high school teammate Adrian Rapp at Brown. Coming off an offensive explosion in a 3-1 victory over St. Francis (Pa.) on Wednesday afternoon, the Penn men's soccer team heads into dangerous waters this Sunday -- the Providence, R.I., confines of defending Ivy League champion Brown. Waiting for the streaking Quakers on Brown's Stevenson Field, though, will be friend as well as foe. Former high school and club teammates Adrian Rapp, a freshman striker for the Bears, and David Whitten, a freshman striker for the Quakers, face off for the first time in different uniforms. "It's going to be a challenge [for all of us]," Quakers junior striker Reggie Brown said. "If we're on for 90 minutes, then we come out with a win. But if we're not on for 90 minutes, then a team like Brown will be able to punish us." The Quakers (3-8-1, 0-3-1 Ivy League) may just be prepared for this battle against the Bears (9-2-1, 2-0-1), who are ranked No. 3 in New England by the National Soccer Coaches Association. The last two outings have seen the Quakers "be on," scoring four goals in stringing together back-to-back victories over St. Mary's (Calif.) and St. Francis. Injuries and arrivals have changed the face of both teams since their last meeting a year ago. The Bears have been without their returning First-Team All-Ivy selection, Mike Rudy, for over a month due to a concussion, and Quakers senior tri-captain Jared Boggs is out for at least another week with "a partial tear" in his medial collateral ligament. In their absence, the two freshmen from the small Branson (Calif.) High School will be looked upon to gear up their respective squads up front. Two-time Ivy Rookie of the Week Rapp leads the Bears on their attack, while Quakers leading scorer Whitten patrols the other end of the field. The two played together for four years on their high school team, and for several more on a Marin United Club team that finished third in the California State Cup in '97. Last season, despite 11 goals and 13 assists by Rapp, Whitten managed to outscore his co-captain and be named Branson's offensive player of the year. "I know I'm definitely looking forward to taking on Brown," Whitten said. "I have a friend [Rapp] who plays striker over there who I played with in high school. So I'm looking forward to -- pardon my French -- talking a little shit over there." Rapp, who saw little playing time prior to Rudy's injury, has been unstoppable since his teammate went down -- tallying three goals and an assist in his past eight games. "[Brown] was fortunate to have a guy like Rapp who was biding his time behind Rudy to come in and now step up his game and take over for them," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "Rapp was recruited to be an understudy to Rudy, but he's had to develop a lot quicker than we anticipated," Brown coach Michael Noonan said. "He's scored some very good goals for us, and he's improving every day in practice." But in Whitten, the Quakers may just have an equal to the elusive Rapp. The Quakers striker also started '98 slowly -- he did not see any action until the Quakers 10th game -- and was even misidentified as 'Carlos' in the Quakers media guide. Whitten has come of age in the last two games, scoring goals in each of the Quaker wins. Last Sunday, in his first collegiate start, Whitten netted the game-winner in front of friends and family at St. Mary's. "David is trying his best to really get his name into the line-up each and every day," Fuller said. "That's what we need out of guys. We need guys who are trying to win a spot in the line-up on the field when they get their opportunity, and David's almost forcing my hand." Along with Whitten, Fuller has had his hand "forced" in the last few games by sophomore midfielder Michael McElwain, who also netted a goal against St. Francis. Invigorated with the frenetic energy of Brown, junior striker Jason Karageorge and freshman striker Evan Anderson, the Quakers head to Providence with a newfound offense that the Bears will be forced to respect. The offensive end of the field is where this matchup will be decided, as evidenced by Brown's high-scoring, come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Penn last season. The Quakers dominated that game early by grabbing a 2-0 lead, but three second-half strikes completed a startling comeback by the Bears in the final 34 minutes. At the same time, Bears sophomore goalkeeper Matt Cross has shut out all three Ivy foes he has faced, and with a 0.88 g.a.a. is the backbone of the leagues leading defense. "Brown is clearly one of the top teams in the Ivy League, and they're battling to get an NCAA bid," Fuller said. "We're going to need to be on top of our game to take care of them." But if Whitten and the Quakers offense can duplicate the performances of their last two games then the team might be coming back to Philadelphia on Sunday night with its first Ivy win in its last 11 tries.
The Penn women's soccer team seems to be following a trend in '98 -- winning the non-conference games handily, but coming up just short in the crucial Ivy matchups. The Quakers (9-3-1, 0-3-1 Ivy League) will try to change that this Sunday as they head to Brown's (6-6-1, 0-3-1) Stevenson Field seeking their first Ivy win in five tries. A point in the Quakers' favor going into Brown is that they are fresh off an impressive 3-1 downing of Bucknell (6-10) on Tuesday. This game saw almost complete domination by the home team, as the Quakers ran their non-conference winning streak to nine. Going into Tuesday, the Quakers were on the rebound after a tough 2-1 loss to Columbia over Fall Break. But determined not to let their slide continue to two against the Bison, the Quakers responded with a big 'W.' Paced by seven shots by midfielder Kellianne Toland, a total of 11 Quakers pestered Bison keeper Dana Rotey with an inordinate 33 shots in the win. Toland, a sophomore, notched the first goal of the game for the Quakers 18 minutes in, and senior striker Kelly Stevens netted her seventh of the year 10 minutes later to make it 2-0. Five minutes into the second half the vaunted Callaghan duo finally got into the scoring act as Quakers junior striker Andrea Callaghan fed her twin sister -- junior striker Jill Callaghan -- for the team's third goal. Jill, with an assist on Stevens' goal as well, upped her Ivy League-leading point total to 20 on the year. Though the Quakers did control the ball for almost the entire game, a late unassisted goal by Bison striker Suzanne Hartig was able to break up Quakers goalkeeper Anne Kluetmeier's shutout bid. Nonetheless, the Red and Blue can still take solace in knowing that they thoroughly dominated this game. The Bison were allowed just four shots and one corner kick on the day by a stingy Quakers defense -- and Kluetmeier needed to save only three Bucknell shots. This Sunday, the Quakers will need this type of dominating play as they head north to Providence, R.I., trying to break out of a year-long Ivy jinx. If statistics could win the games, then the Quakers would surely come out on top. Kluetmeier has eight shutouts on the year for Penn, while Bears junior keeper Elise Roy has a goals-against-average of 1.68. The Quakers lead the Ivy League in scoring, and have a plus-26 goal differential, while the Bears have been outscored 24 to 20 on the year. Unfortunately for the Quakers, the game must be played on the field -- a field where the unexpected can, and frequently does, occur. Despite a 6-1 Ivy loss to Dartmouth and a pair of non-league three-goal losses, the Bears still enter Sunday's match with the exact same record as the Quakers in the Ivies. The Bears are fresh off of a 3-1 win of their own this week -- over cross-town rival Providence on Wednesday. Last year's matchup saw the Quakers shut out the Bears 2-0 on Rhodes Field, with sophomore midfielder Emily Goodman notching a goal for the Quakers. But this year could present a very different matchup, as the Quakers don't seem to have any luck in their Ivy meetings. The combination of freshman Allyson Schwerdt and senior Kira Kania-Lloyd -- who has netted 11 goals and six assists in '98 -- has proved the Bears can threaten up front, and on their home field, anything can happen. If the Quakers can take the boost from their 3-1 win on Tuesday and turn it into a positive showing Sunday, then perhaps the bus ride home from this Ivy match won't be as long and painful as the last few have been. Women's soccer coach Patrick Baker, who handles all inquiries for the Quakers, could not be reached for comment last night.
The Penn men's soccer team produced more than one goal in a game for the first time this season against St. Francis. It finally happened. After losing countless 1-0 battles and seeing numerous shots sail just over the crossbar, the Penn men's soccer team finally broke out of its season-long scoring slump, defeating St. Francis (Pa.) 3-1 yesterday afternoon on Rhodes Field. The three-goal outburst marked a nearly 50 percent increase in the Quakers' offensive output of the first 11 games as a whole and gave the team its first back-to-back victories in 13 months. "We've dominated a lot of games this season, but [unlike the other games] today the ball found the back of the net," Quakers junior striker Reggie Brown said. "We didn't play our best game by far, but we're happy with the win." The Quakers (3-8-1) came into this midweek match high off a 1-0 victory at St. Mary's (Calif.) on Sunday and were focusing on continuing with their non-conference success against the Red Flash (6-11). Just 9:15 into the game, sophomore midfielder Michael McElwain started the Quakers on the winning path, scoring off a scramble in front of the visitors' net. "Reggie just got the ball from the keeper, and I got that right in the middle. It was an easy chance, so I just put it in," McElwain said. The Quakers pressured the Red Flash throughout the first 45 minutes, outshooting the visitors 11 to four. Their persistence paid off less than two minutes before the break, as Brown found freshman striker Evan Anderson alone in front for his team-leading second tally of '98. Anderson's score gave the Quakers a much-needed and very visible boost going into the half. While the entire Penn team jogged to and from the locker room, the Red Flash sat slumped on its bench, staring blankly out onto the field. The polar opposite of the Red Flash's first-half sluggishness, though, was the energy of the Quakers' Brown. The "roaming striker" tallied three assists, took four of the Quakers' season-high 23 shots and generally tracked the ball down wherever it rolled on the pitch. "They were giving me a lot of space through the midfield, so I had time to pick some people out, and people were making the right runs today," Brown said. The second half opened with a change in net for the struggling Red Flash defense. This switch, though, did little to curb St. Francis' errant play. Time and time again, the Red Flash's defense wasn't able to adequately clear the ball. Two Red Flash free kicks hit their own man less than five yards from the spot of the kick. Neither Jim Lushok nor Daniel Schmidt could shake their nasty habits of shanking goal kicks directly at the nearest Quakers striker. "Both goaltenders didn't play very well," Columbia coach Bill Furjanic said. "They were making some silly mistakes and putting the ball right at Penn's feet, and [Penn] punished us for it." Quakers freshman striker David Whitten rounded out the Quakers' scoring with his second goal in as many games on a breakaway in the 72nd minute. This breakaway, like many others, began with a Quakers' steal in the midfield and moved upfield on the quick feet of Brown. The Red Flash were unable to put together their first sustained attack of the game until after the Quakers made a number of substitutions with 10 minutes remaining. Quakers junior goalkeeper Michael O'Connor was pressed only intermittently in the first 75 minutes, but he had to make three of his four saves in the final 15. As the game clock wound down, unmarked Red Flash senior Alex Cormas was able to break O'Connor's shutout bid by burying a rebound in the 86th minute. As with the St. Francis goal, the Quakers were the victim of a number of second-half lapses -- including six offsides calls and two yellow cards. But although late problems highlighted the Quakers' room for improvement, the team should keep in mind that they are on a roll. Strong contributions were made by every team member, including freshman striker Aaron Cohen and junior defender Tom Hughes -- who used his 6'6" frame to nearly head in several corner kicks. "It feels good to get our breakout game, but we should've done much better than we did," Fuller said. "You're looking at the three goal scorers and you've got two freshmen and a sophomore. Whereas very early in the season they weren't figuring out how to find the chances -- and then they were finding them and not finishing them -- now we're putting it together. We tried to stay patient with them, and it appears to be paying off now."
The Penn men's soccer team will face St Mary's and San Francisco while out West. Fresh off of his second shutout of the '98 season, Penn junior goalkeeper Michael O'Connor and the Penn men's soccer team head west this weekend to the eighth annual St. Mary's College Fall Soccer Classic in Moraga, Calif. The Quakers (1-7-1), who put up a strong showing in a scoreless draw with Columbia last Saturday, face the University of San Francisco (1-10) today at 7 p.m. before playing St. Mary's (4-7) Sunday at 3 p.m. This is the Quakers' first meeting with both the Dons and the Gaels. "I set up this game to basically get some East Coast soccer on the West Coast," St. Mary's coach Mark Talan said. "I know Penn has a large alumni base out here, and it would be good for them to see their team play." Though the team has already traveled to New Hampshire and Virginia for two-game tournaments this season, this excursion is the one that the Quakers have been especially looking forward to. "We're all really excited about the trip," O'Connor said. "Everybody's been talking about it. We just want to go out there to do our game." In its first game on the West Coast in a number of years, Penn has the dubious distinction of facing San Francisco coach Stephen Negoesco -- the winningest coach in college soccer history with 522 victories and four NCAA titles to his name. Things aren't as bad as they may seem, though, as the Dons are having their worst year in Negoesco's 37-year tenure at their helm. "Right now, the main thing we're working on is winning," Negoesco said. "I really don't know what to think anymore. I thought I had a very good team, but it turns out to be my worst." San Francisco has been hampered by both a tough schedule and recent injuries to its front line. Dons leading scorer Fabio Pires, a senior striker with four of the team's 10 goals, will be watching from the sideline. But junior midfielder Alex Akerjordet, who has tallied two goals, two assists and a team-leading 31 shots, is still a dangerous player to watch in the middle. Despite this competition, the Quakers have gained confidence from their past week's practice and do not seem intimidated. "We've been feeling good and we've been having some very good practices this week," Penn junior defenseman Ted Lehman said. "They've been intense, which is what we need because that's how our games are played." Lehman, who along with junior defender Tom Hughes earned All-Tournament honors at the Stihl Soccer Classic at Old Dominion, Va., four weeks ago, echoed team-wide sentiments that "this should be a good all-around weekend" for the Quakers. Defending champion St. Mary's -- a host-team with high expectations -- is young, has lost 13 seniors from a year ago and is likely to start five freshmen. They do, however, return experienced leaders in the middle of the field with senior co-captains Ali-John Utush at sweeper and Seth Alberico at center midfield. St. Mary's, like Penn, is having trouble converting offensively. The Gaels have scored two or more goals in all four of their wins, but have been shut out in each of their seven losses. The Quakers put up 66 shots in their four-game homestand, including 13 apiece by juniors David Bonder and Reggie Brown, but only came away with one goal. "I think both teams are having difficulty scoring," Talan said. "But [on the other hand] our defense is playing fairly solidly, even though they're young and are still getting to know one another." The Gaels have limited their opponents to one or zero goals in eight-of-11 games and to two goals in two of them. This could spell trouble for Quakers offense, which has not netted one in the past 381 minutes of play. "We're playing two tough teams out in California, but hopefully we can get the ball rolling, get a few behind the net, have a little break out in San Francisco and see the sights," Brown said after the Columbia game. "Hopefully we can come back with two wins and be ready to go back into the league and some East Coast competition." Perhaps the Quakers should take a lesson from the legendary Negoesco, who holds a Ph.D. in psychobiology in addition to having a stadium named after him. "The placebo effect applies even in soccer games," Negoesco said. "If you believe in yourself, you'll do well. Who knows, either of us may turn it around."
Maybe the tone for the Penn men's soccer game against Columbia last Saturday was set when the announcer couldn't find the national anthem to play over the loudspeakers before the game. When the match actually started, neither the Quakers (1-7-1, 0-3-1 Ivy League) nor the Lions (3-3-2, 1-0-1) could find the back of the net. Quakers junior goalie Michael O'Connor, closing in on Mark Tepper's Penn record of 15 career shutouts, notched the 10th of his career Saturday on Rhodes Field. But Lions sophomore keeper Matt Hill matched him save for save, as the two Ivy foes played to a double-overtime 0-0 tie. "I'm disappointed that we didn't win because there was clear chances to win the game," Lions coach Dieter Ficken said. "But there's one thing about this game of soccer; if the ball doesn't go in, you can't win. And then you have to be satisfied that you don't lose." Once again, the Quakers offense could not get the breaks it sorely needed. Seven corner kicks and four free kicks from just outside the box were knocked aside by Hill and the Lions defense. Junior striker Reggie Brown and junior defenseman Ted Lehman led the Quakers with three shots apiece, but sophomore midfielder Henry Chen had the best chance of the afternoon. Off a feed from freshman striker Aaron Cohen, Chen hit both the crossbar and the inside of the left post with a shot during a mad scramble 90 seconds before the half. "I really give a lot of credit to the guys because they certainly don't let it affect them. They continue to go at it and they continue to give it their effort," Penn head coach Rudy Fuller said. "You can only say that one's going to come." Some of that effort turned into fouls as the afternoon wore on, limiting opportunities up front for both teams. The Lions earned two yellow cards and committed 29-of-59 total fouls on the day. "It was a little rough and tumble, and we were getting into some tough tackles," Brown said. "[Lions midfielder Chris Totman] was giving me some nicks here and there, and I was trying to return the nicks. He held me pretty tight." As frustrated as the Quakers were on offense, the Lions -- who had 10 goals in seven games coming in -- were even more so. This was due to the smart play of O'Connor in net and a very active defense led by junior Tom Hughes in front of him. In a two-minute span late in the first half, the Lions had two dangerous free kicks from just outside the box. Even though one clanged off the crossbar, O'Connor came away with two saves and the shutout intact. "I was sure it was in," Lions senior tri-captain and kick taker Greg Smalling said. "Even after the rebound, I thought we would've gotten it in." This first half, in particular, was telling of how Penn has evolved as a team. Whereas in the past they may have slipped up and found themselves in an early hole, the Quakers played one of their most complete games of the season. "Obviously we're not satisfied. We'd like to be on top of the game, but I think this is one of the best efforts I've seen on the year," O'Connor said. A late scare came in the 83rd minute, when a Quakers defender -- in an attempt to clear a cross -- accidentally headed the ball back toward the open Penn goal-mouth. But O'Connor's reflexes saved him, and he batted the ball over the net. The two overtime frames weren't quite as fast-paced as regulation due to fatigue and a rapidly decomposing field. Hearts stopped for both teams when Penn freshman striker Evan Anderson lofted a shot barely a foot over the top of an open Lions net with a minute to play in the second OT. Despite the Quakers' inability to net a goal for the past 381 minutes of play, the team did show marked improvement in its play. Unlike in recent losses to Harvard and Lafayette, the team was able to come out and dominate both sides of the ball early.
Maybe the Penn men's soccer team should hire Ronaldo as a consultant -- they could use some pointers on how to score. Coming off their fourth shut-out loss of '98, a 2-0 loss to Harvard on Saturday, the Quakers (1-6-0, 0-3 Ivy League) head into today's 3:30 p.m. match with Lafayette (7-1-0) hoping to find a scoring punch that has been noticeably absent. "The team isn't happy with the result [of Harvard] by any stretch, but the team's spirits are still high," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "They've matured a great deal from the beginning of preseason to this point." A big test of the Quakers maturity is how long the teams spirits can stay up while they keep coming up short in the close games. "We outshot Harvard 12 to seven, so you can see that the offense is clicking," senior tri-captain Ralph Maier said. "But we just haven't been able to finish -- it's that simple." The team has demonstrated that it can control the ball and keep play in its offensive zone, but too often the Quakers are missing that final piece of the puzzle. Through seven games, Penn has scored just three times. This is linked directly to the lack of a single 'go-to-guy' in the line-up. Coming into '98, only one returning player -- Quakers junior back Ted Lehman -- had netted more than one goal in a Penn uniform. "We have guys playing in our attacking spots who have never been asked to score goals at any time in their previous soccer careers," Fuller said. "So now to slide them into those spots and ask them to score goals is a pretty big chore for them." Juniors Reggie Brown, Jason Karageorge, and David Bonder, as well as senior tri-captain Jared Boggs, have all been shifted into a more offensive role than they are used to. While real progress has been made, it has been slow in coming. "Sure, there's an adjustment for all of us," Brown said. "We've had our opportunities ? but the ball just hasn't bounced our way." Last week the Quakers -- led by nine shots from Bonder -- outshot both Temple and Harvard, only to earn a split in the standings. "The Harvard game was definitely [Bonder's] best game of the season," Fuller said. "He has clearly stepped up his effort on both sides of the ball, and we're looking for him to continue those efforts." Today's match will require the entire Quakers offense to step up its efforts. Led by sophomore keeper Craig Schroeder and his 0.36 goals-against-average, all seven Leopards wins have come by shutout. "One of our goals coming into the season was to have a goals against average of under 1.00," first-year Lafayette coach Tim Lenahan said. "We've got some good goal-tending, and so far things have worked out for us." For the Quakers, though, things have not worked out, and the bounces have not gone their way. Although 12 different Quakers have put shots on net, the team has still not scored when it has trailed or scored in the second half. Recent play by Bonder and freshmen strikers Evan Anderson and Aaron Cohen has been impressive but still has not produced a multiple-goal game for the Red and Blue. "We've clearly improved in the offensive area, to where the front three or four [Anderson, Bonder, Brown, and Karageorge] are now really looking for their shots," Fuller said. "When they have a little bit of time and space, they're looking to shoot and score now -- whereas in the past, they may have been looking for that perfect pass." Quakers keeper Michael O'Connor has performed admirably in net, and has kept the team in a number of games. The Penn junior, who has recorded 32 saves on the year, will face yet another stiff test today. "We are getting our chances on offense, but we just have to work on being more dangerous up front," O'Connor said. "[Against Lafayette] I'm hoping the offense will bust out with a couple of goals." The Quakers will need to 'bust out' with a good showing today, as Lafayette is off to its best start in 13 years. But Leopards coach Lenahan, who also applied for Penn's coaching position in the off-season, is not yet ready to discount the Quakers. "Penn defends really well, and it's not like they've lost to easy teams," Lenahan said. "They're still a pretty good team, and we are facing them on the road." Lafayette juniors Leidy Klotz and Jake Ross have combined for six of the Leopards 12 tallies in '98, and lead a seasoned team up front. Klotz has scored game-winning goals for the Leopards in their last two games -- including Saturday's 1-0 defeat of St. Francis (NY) in double overtime. "Lafayette is clearly an improved team. Coach Lenahan has them playing very well, very organized, very enthusiastically," Fuller said. "It's going to be a good battle, and I think it's going to come down to who gets a break." "Lafayette and Penn are pretty similar," Lenahan agreed. "But we've just been fortunate to poke a few more home."
Penn men's soccer coach Rudy Fuller is still looking for his first win. After five close road losses and over 1,000 miles logged on its charter bus to open up the '98 season, the Penn men's soccer team has finally come home to West Philadelphia. The Quakers (0-5) and their new head coach Rudy Fuller will try to break into the win column this afternoon on Rhodes Field at 3:30 p.m. against city rival Temple. "I think we're fortunate to have a game right away on Tuesday [after Saturday's 1-0 Ivy loss at Cornell]," Fuller said. "The team is a little frustrated and upset, and rightfully so, and it's good that there isn't a week off of wait." The Owls (1-5-1), who were picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic 10 this season, should be a far cry from the three top-25 non-conference foes that the Quakers have faced so far this fall. One indication of Temple's relative weakness lies in its goal differential so far this year. Whereas the Quakers have fallen to one-goal defeats in each of their three non-Ivy matches, the Owls have a startling minus-17 goal differential in their six non-league games. Temple, boasting a senior-free team, was recently shut out 5-0 by Villanova, 8-0 by Hofstra and 2-0 by Philadelphia Textile this past Tuesday. This trend bodes well for a Quakers offense which has been largely unable to finish in its previous five outings. "Temple is a very hard-working team," Fuller said. "And we still have a lot to prove to ourselves." He also stressed that statistics never tell the whole story. These numbers do, however, bode well for the winless Quakers. This game offers a golden opportunity for the team's anemic offensive output -- no second-half goals this season -- to shift into high gear. "We have really been struggling on offense, but we've been working on it recently in practice," senior midfielder and tri-captain Jared Boggs said. "It's definitely one area we need to improve upon. We're just going to go out there and play our game, and do what we have to do to win." Six Quakers remain from the team that defeated the Owls 4-1 two years ago, including junior midfielders Jason Karageorge and David Bonder and junior striker Reggie Brown. Along with Boggs and freshman Evan Anderson -- the two Quakers goal scorers so far this year -- these veterans will try to duplicate the team's effort of two years ago and jump-start the team's offense in the process. But while Temple has managed just six goals in its seven games -- with three coming in a season-opening loss to Lehigh -- the Owls will field a number of dangerous players who have no intention of being Penn's first victim. Sophomore striker Ryan Haney and junior midfielder Kevin Kelly, who played together at Philadelphia's Archbishop Ryan High School, form a potent combination up front. The duo has accounted for over 50 percent of the Owls' goals so far this September. In addition, freshman midfielder Jeff Fisher is fresh off his game-winning goal against Atlantic-10 foe St. Joseph's on September 19. If Penn junior goalie Michael O'Connor can maintain his strong play, though, this match could see the Quakers end up on the right side of a shutout. "We know it's a game where we can get ahead and we can win," junior defender Ted Lehman said. "We just need to learn to string together 90 minutes of good soccer." Today's game is the beginning of a two-week, four-game homestand for the Quakers. In contrast to their first five games of '98 -- all of which took place at least a four-hour bus ride away -- the Quakers can now enjoy the benefits of a field they've practiced on and a crowd rooting in their favor as they try to corral that elusive first victory. "Of course it's very easy to get up for a game like this," Fuller said. "It's great to be back home, and the team is very eager to play."
Going into Saturday's Ivy League matchup at Cornell's Berman Field, the Penn men's soccer team could not help but be excited about its prospects for the meeting. After all, Cornell (2-3, 1-0 Ivy League) -- like the Quakers -- had a new head coach, a new system of play and had been swept in a tournament last weekend. But when all was said and done, the Quakers (0-5, 0-2) could only manage to come away with the same-old result -- their third hard-fought, and disappointing, 1-0 loss of the season. "We should've won," Quakers coach Rudy Fuller said simply. "Not that we necessarily played that well, but we are as good as, if not better than, Cornell." Despite being outshot eight to three in the first half, junior goalie Michael O'Connor and the Quakers' defense managed to keep a relatively sluggish game scoreless at the break. "Neither team had the better of it, and neither team did any serious attacking [in the first half]," Fuller said. "We didn't really start playing until the second half -- until after they scored." Big Red forward James Lukezic was the culprit who broke the scoreless tie, heading a cross just inside the far post in the 11th minute of the second half. Despite several late surges by the Quakers, the team could not find the back of the net, and the 6'3" Lukezic's goal stood up as the game-winner. "Late in the second half we played more aggressively, but we can't wait 50 minutes to start to play," junior defender Ted Lehman said. "We need to string together 90 minutes of good soccer." Lehman and senior midfielder Jared Boggs led the Quakers with two shots apiece, and each forced Big Red goalie Andrew Barton to make diving saves in the last 60 seconds of play. "Those were two real good chances," Boggs said. "Along with a run up the middle by [junior striker] Reggie Brown early in the first half, they were some of our best chances on the day." But despite the late Quakers rally, the team's offense was quite reserved. The Quakers' "attack-in-numbers" offense forced Barton to make only three saves on the day -- two of which were in the last minute surge. With the victory, Cornell picked up its first Ivy win of the season, while becoming the fifth straight team to deny Quakers coach Rudy Fuller his first victory at Penn. Fuller himself earned a yellow card from the sidelines for arguing a call midway through the second half. His outburst of energy, though, did not carry over to the team, and the Quakers remained scoreless for their third straight half of play. "It was just something that needed to be done," Fuller said. "There were just some calls being made in the second half that weren't consistent with the first half." Cornell junior goalie Andrew Barton recorded three saves in posting his first shutout of '98, while Big Red sophomore Richard Stimpson and Lukezic led Cornell with three shots apiece. This loss may be the hardest for the Quakers to swallow so far this season. Cornell was unranked, and had struggled earlier this season -- presenting a perfect opportunity for the Quakers to even out their Ivy League record. The game did see continued improvement in the younger members of the team. John Salvucci played well on defense and striker Carlos Torres came off the bench, putting up one of the Quakers shots on the day. But as it stands right now, a .500 season and a middle-of-the-pack Ivy finish seems more likely than a return to the third-place Ivy finish of two years ago. "Other than playing well in our losses, we still have a lot to prove to ourselves," Fuller said.
The Penn defense held Dartmouth to just four yards of total offense in the first helf. The defense was supposed to be one of the weak links for the '98 edition of the Penn football team -- right? After all, the Quakers lost third round NFL draft pick Mitch Marrow and Second Team All-Ivy honoree Doug Zinser from the defensive line. The secondary lost First Team All-Ivy safety John Bishop and honorable mention All-Ivy cornerback Larrin Robertson. Four of the Quakers' top six tacklers from '97 were gone to graduation. The offense was solid and could put up points, but it was clear that the team's defense would have its hands full this season -- right? Wrong. Buoyed by four sacks and eight tackles for a loss, Penn's defensive side of the ball played one of its better games in recent Quakers' memory on Saturday. Consider this: Dartmouth -- runner-up in the Ivies last season -- did not get a first down until there was 4:13 left in the third quarter. It took the Big Green 10 possessions and nearly 41 minutes to perform such a mundane task. "Defensively, they're a tough, physical team, and they caused us problems," Dartmouth coach John Lyons said. In a game where field position is almost everything, the Quakers defense did their part in giving the offense a short field to work with. At halftime, the Big Green had gained just four yards of total offense and, more importantly, had been unable to cross midfield. By the game's end, the Dartmouth total was not much better, as the Big Green "racked up" 105 yards of total offense -- 31 coming in the last 50 seconds of the game. The Quakers secondary, replete with two new cornerbacks, was considered by many to be this year's main question mark. But the back four, led by Penn co-captain senior free safety Joe Piela, held Dartmouth sophomore quarterback Mike Coffey to 85 yards on 10-for-22 passing. "I have no worries about either of them [new faces Hasani White and Joey Alofaitulli] at corner, as much as I do in Darren Macdonald at linebacker," Piela said, stressing the confidence the team has in both its secondary and in returning senior First Team All-Ivy Macdonald. The defensive front held even more impressively, allowing the option-oriented Big Green a whopping 0.72 yards per carry on the day. "We don't like drop-back passing on second and long dictating what we have to do, and their defense knows it. There were times when they were making twists and we didn't pick up some of them," Dartmouth quarterback Mike Coffey said. "For lack of a better word, I have to say we were pathetic in the first half." Junior lineman Adrian Puzio and Macdonald each recorded first-half sacks for the Quakers, while senior end Justin Gallagher and senior lineman Jason Maehr each made big plays in the final 10 minutes of the game. Maehr's sack came in a key third-down situation, and forced a Big Green punt with less than four minutes remaining. "We were trying to mix up [our five and six man fronts]," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "We felt that we had some experienced kids up there that we can show them a lot of different looks. We played five or six good people? from that perspective, we were just trying to keep them off balance." Quakers junior linebacker James Hisgen had an outstanding day, recording eight tackles, including three of the Quakers' eight tackles for a loss. Hisgen recovered a key third-quarter fumble in Penn territory as well. In total, Dartmouth had possession of the ball 15 times on the day. Of the 12 times they started in their own end, they crossed midfield just once. Even the two touchdowns that the Big Green were able to come up with were each more a byproduct of chance and an indifferent Quakers kicking game than outright defensive failures. One Big Green score was on a 26-yard lob into the end zone, while the other resulted from a 13-yard Jake Plummer-like scramble by Coffey. "The first time [Dartmouth scored], we drove them back 15 yards and they just made one pass," Piela said. "We came off the field, nobody put their head down. On defense, everybody was yelling and screaming, and everybody was keeping their head up and making sure that it didn't happen again. "And then when it did happen again, we still were up, and that was obvious at the end of the game, when we stepped up and made plays in the last couple of minutes." The Big Green were stopped three-and-out three times in the fourth quarter, and were never a threat to enter field goal range in the last frame. Another tribute to the Penn defense was the fact that as a unit they did not commit a penalty on the day. The constant pressure of the Quakers' front five caused two offsides and two delay of game penalties on the Big Green offense on the day -- the last of which prompted Coffey to shout obscenities at his teammates and coaching staff in the closing minutes. "I think as a defense, we played pretty well," Bagnoli said. "When the smoke cleared, we were able to make some third-down plays, able to create turnovers, able to make some stops when we had to -- I thought those kids played really well."
The Penn men's soccer team dropped two games to nationally ranked opponents over the weekend. HANOVER, N.H. -- It did not bode well for the winless Penn men's soccer team that they were the only unranked squad entered in this past weekend's Dartmouth Umbro Hypertherm Classic. The Quakers entered their matches with No. 15 Dartmouth and No. 13 Boston University trying to break out of their continued pattern of 1-0 losses. The Quakers (0-4, 0-1 Ivy League) were able to accomplish that, taking early leads in both games. But despite pressing both the Big Green (2-1, 1-0) and the Terriers (5-1), the team returned to West Philadelphia still looking to deliver new head coach Rudy Fuller his first win as a Quaker. On Saturday afternoon, the Quakers squared off against a Dartmouth team that returned 10 starters -- including senior first team All-Ivy selection Matt Nyman and his scrooge-like 0.53 goals against average in net in '97. But much to the Big Green's surprise, they found themselves down early. Quakers freshman striker Evan Anderson -- who was named to the All-Tournament team -- netted a goal in the 17th minute, the team's first in nearly 200 minutes of play in '98. Despite being pressured in their half of the field for most of the first half, key saves by junior goalie Michael O'Connor and stellar defensive play from 6'6" junior defender Tom Hughes kept a resilient Dartmouth squad down 1-0 at the half. Hughes' strong play placed him on an all-tournament team for the second straight weekend this season. But in front of its home crowd, Dartmouth equalized in the 51st minute on a header by senior defender Brendan Reidy. The goal, assisted by senior forward Chris Dedicik and sophomore midfielder Nick Magnuson, came off the Big Green's second corner kick in as many minutes. This constant pressure by the Big Green yielded further results, as Dartmouth took the lead for good on goals by Dedicik in the 60th and 68th minutes, winning 3-1. Dedicik, who tallied three goals in the Classic, was named tournament MVP. Though the Quakers denied Dartmouth an equalizer for over 30 minutes, the Big Green deflated the Quakers with their 20-minute offensive burst and took control of the game from there. Yesterday's match with No. 12 Boston University did not have the added implication of league standings at stake, but it was expected to be just as much of a fight for the Quakers. The Terriers, 3-0 losers to No. 19 Stanford (4-2) on Saturday, came back in yesterday's match with a more solid and focused game plan. Again, the Quakers took the lead early, this time on a low liner by senior defender and tri-captain Jared Boggs in the 16th minute. But for the second straight day, the Quakers could not maintain their lead. A header by BU striker Joachim Kaland knotted the score just six minutes later, and the game went into halftime tied. On paper, the BU game was very even, and it suggests good things may lie ahead for the Quakers. The Terriers took one more shot, and both teams took eight corner kicks. But on the other hand, it's quite clear that the team is in need of some additional work. The Quakers offense has begun to show signs of life, as Boggs and junior midfielders Reggie Brown and Jason Karageorge were all able to put multiple shots on net against BU. Nonetheless, this tournament has shown that the Quakers must learn to guard a lead -- albeit in the face of nationally ranked opponents -- slightly better if they are to compete at the top-tier level Fuller is seeking to bring to Penn. The Penn men's soccer team arrived back on campus too late to comment for this article.
The Penn men's soccer team lost two games by 1-0 scores in Virginia. Ten months after losing its last game of the '97 season to Princeton by a 1-0 count, the Penn men's soccer team entered the first weekend of the '98 season with a new coach, a new system of play and an almost entirely new starting line-up. Three days later, the Quakers (0-2) came away with the same old result -- two hard-fought 1-0 losses to No. 18 William & Mary (4-0) and Old Dominion (3-0). But the team is not dwelling on their early season, out of conference record, instead using the games to get into its style of play. "From all standpoints, both the team and I were pleased with how well the team played defensively," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. The Quakers defense was the team's cornerstone over the weekend, with junior defenders Ted Lehman and Tom Hughes each making the All-Tournament team. But the Quakers' worries about the lack of a first-rate striker showed as they could not find the back of the net in last weekend's Stihl Soccer Classic in Norfolk, Va. On Friday afternoon, the Quakers knew they'd be in for a fight against the Tribe -- an NCAA tournament team a year ago that returned All-American junior goalie Adin Brown. In a defensive battle, Brown only had to make two saves, while his Quaker counterpart, junior Michael O'Connor only made one official save. The Tribe's senior striker Luke Bockelman netted a goal in the 50th minute to hand Fuller a defeat in his first game at the helm of the Penn program. Bockelman, the tournament MVP, terrorized the Quakers with eight shots on goal on the day -- four more than the Quakers as a team. Bockelman then came back to score three times in a 4-1 Tribe win over George Washington yesterday afternoon. Yesterday, facing an undefeated Old Dominion team on its home field, the Quakers again finished on the wrong end of a 1-0 result. O'Connor played well in net, saving three, but Monarchs sophomore midfielder Patrick Halter got a goal past O'Connor on a rebound in the 12th minute to provide the difference. Hampered by the ejection of senior tri-captain Jared Boggs, who was red carded for pulling down a player on a breakaway in the 14th minute, the Quakers never got a chance to press the Monarchs after being down early. The Quakers were outshot for the second straight game, this time 10-3. "After the game, the ODU coach had some glowing remarks about how we had performed playing a man down," Fuller said. "We played an even game, considering we were down a man for about 80 percent of the game." While the Quakers showed improvement on defense in both games -- bettering their 1.82 goals against per game average of a year ago -- their offense still hasn't found its touch. The Quakers' inability to net goals in four of five pre-season scrimmages, combined with the seven shots total in this tournament, indicates that the team has not completely adjusted to its new "attack-with-numbers" style. "I don't think we're doing a good job of putting our shots on target," Fuller said. Looking ahead, though, 17 field players saw action for the team, especially during the Old Dominion game, where fresh legs were at a premium. "Coming in [to this weekend] one goal? was to season the players, and get them experience at the collegiate level in preparation for next week's match at Dartmouth," Fuller said. Though this season may not be off to the best of starts, the real test of the Quakers' mettle won't come until next weekend, at the Dartmouth Umbro Tournament, in Hanover, N.H. On consecutive days, the team faces Ivy foe No. 14 Dartmouth and No. 13 Boston University. But if the Quakers can break through on the offensive end, while continuing to play the defense it displayed over the past three days, then the team should be more likely to end on the top side of future 1-0 battles.