Going into Tuesday night's game at the Palestra, history did not bode well for the fortunes of the Penn women's basketball team. The Quakers, who were hosting Villanova in their final Big 5 contest of the season, had already dropped 25 straight games to the Wildcats and had never before won more than one Big 5 game in a single season. With a strong second-half run to seal the win, Villanova (5-3, 3-1 Big 5) made sure that tradition would not be broken as it defeated the Quakers (1-4, 1-3 Big 5), 61-52. Despite a surprising victory over La Salle last week, the loss to Villanova ended Penn's Big 5 schedule on a sour note. The Quakers have still never one more than one City Series game in a season. "They wanted it more than us down the stretch and they made the big plays to do it," Penn coach Kelly Greenberg said. The Wildcats were sparked by a 10-0 run late in the second half. After Penn guard Erin Ladley sunk 1-of-2 free throws to give the Quakers a 39-38 lead with 7:36 left in the contest, Villanova center Brandi Barnes took control of the game. The 6'3'' inside force for the Wildcats converted on three straight easy layups and sank a free throw to tally seven of her team-high 20 points in just a little over two minutes. "She's a really big girl," said Penn forward Julie Epton, who chipped in nine points on 3-of-5 shooting. "We need to do a better job of keeping our feet moving on defense." When Villanova guard Trish Juhline sunk a three-pointer from the corner at the 4:09 mark to cap off the Wildcats' 10-0 run and give them a 48-39 lead, the game was all but over. At the three-minute mark, Penn cut the lead to six, but that was the closest the Quakers would manage to get after the Villanova run. The Wildcats knocked down 13-of-18 foul shots in the final 2:30 to secure the victory. Once again, turnovers were the story for the Quakers. After a 27-turnover outing against Temple on Saturday, Penn was again extremely sloppy with the ball. The Quakers committed 16 turnovers on the night, including one stretch in which they turned the ball over on five straight possessions. "We need to take care of the ball more," said freshman guard Jewel Clark, who gave the rock away three times but contributed a team-high 12 rebounds. "One turnover is too many turnovers." Frustrated by Penn's lack of poise on the offensive end, Greenberg felt that the Quakers could have came out on top if they had just held onto the ball. "[The turnovers] weren't forced. It wasn't like Villanova came up in our face and made us [turn it over]," Greenberg said. "I thought the game was ours. They shot 3-of-20 from three-point range. You make Villanova do that, you should win the game. We did everything we could to put ourselves in a position to win." In the first half, both teams went pretty much basket-for-basket. After the Quakers took an early 14-12 lead just under eight minutes into the game, Villanova guard Mimi Riley nailed a three-pointer in between two nice penetration moves to score seven of her nine points. All of her scoring came in the first half. After a basket by Villanova forward Courtney Mix pushed the Wildcats' lead to seven, the Quakers went on an 11-4 run to tie the game at 25. The run was capped off by a rare three-pointer from Penn star forward Diana Caramanico. Penn went into the locker room down just three, very much within striking distance. The second half was a seesaw battle through the first 13 minutes, with neither team able to push their lead beyond three until Barnes began to dominate inside. Neither Penn nor Villanova shot the lights out on the night. The Quakers' 38.9 field goal percentage was slightly better than the 33.3 percent mark posted by the Wildcats. With such a poor shooting performance from the opposition, the Quakers expected to win the game. They blamed themselves, rather than the pesky Villanova defense, for the exasperating defeat. "I think we just made a lot of small mistakes and made their defense look better than it is," said Penn sophomore guard Jennifer Jones, who contributed six points in 16 minutes. "I think we beat ourselves," Epton said. "I don't think it was their defense that got us out of it." The Quakers will now have some time off to work out the kinks in their offense and prepare for the rest of their schedule. Penn's next game is January 28th against Stonybrook. "We have 16 days," Epton said. "We have that much time to get better."
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Collegiate athletes across the country share a common bond -- they all work as hard as they can in an attempt to push their bodies as far as they can go. They train day and night, hit the weight room in their spare time and watch game-tapes with their coaches and teammates. They do everything they can in pursuit of a championship, in pursuit of greatness. Nothing can get in their way. But at approximately 5 p.m. this past Saturday, a young athlete's dreams were forever shattered. Cornell freshman wrestler Graham Morin tragically passed away during a light practice. The 19-year-old suffered from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a rare heart disease that affects only about one out of every 1,000. Morin was not aware of this disease, and there were never any prior signs of heart trouble. A memorial service was held for the Cornell freshman yesterday at Sage Chapel in Ithaca, N.Y. Morin was a highly touted recruit from Washington state. The three-time state champion and two-time All-America selection placed second in his collegiate debut for the Big Red in the 165-pound weight class at the Cornell Invitational just a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, his first collegiate meet would also turn out to be his last. "He was a highly recruited wrestler out of high school," Penn senior wrestler Mike Fickell said. "It's a devastating blow to their team." Fickell, along with the rest of the Quakers wrestling squad, was shocked upon hearing of the death. "I think it's a tragic situation," Penn wrestling coach Roger Reina said. "Our condolences go out to Morin's family, the Cornell wrestling team and everyone at Cornell." "It really makes you step back and appreciate what you've got," Fickell added. The senior Quakers wrestler noted, however, that death, or even serious injury for that matter, is not something that usually crosses an athlete's mind. "My biggest fear is about my upcoming match," Fickell said. "Health conditions have never really entered myself or my teammate's minds." Morin's pre-existing heart condition was not typical for a wrestler. In fact, there are only 10 to 25 deaths a year due to cardiac causes in athletes. Morin's death was simply an extremely unfortunate incident that took away a very talented and dedicated young athlete. "Graham lost his life doing what he loved, and that was wrestling," Cornell wrestling coach Rob Koll told the Cornell Daily Sun.
He has an Ivy League title under his belt. He has captured a ring signifying his team's march to glory. He has more records than he knows what to do with. Now Penn football star Gavin Hoffman has just a little bit more. The junior quarterback was named the 2000 Bushnell Cup winner yesterday as the Ivy League's most valuable player. Hoffman anchored a Quakers squad this season that went 6-1 in Ivy play and 7-3 overall to win the league title. As the signal-caller and leader on the team, Hoffman compiled extraordinary numbers in just his second year donning the Red and Blue. On the season, the junior transfer from Northwestern went 272-for-386 with 24 touchdown passes and 3,214 yards. These numbers are not just dominant in Ivy League play. They also make Hoffman one of the elite quarterbacks in the nation. In Division I-AA play, the junior quarterback finished second in completions with 27.2 per game and fourth in total passing, averaging 314.9 yards per game. A quarterback rating of 153.7 also made Hoffman the third most efficient signal-caller in I-AA. In his two seasons with the Quakers, Hoffman has already set many Penn football records, most notably the career passing record. Hoffman has thrown for 5,542 yards thus far in his Penn career, shattering Jimmy McGeehan's old mark of 3,954. The 6'5'', 235-pound quarterback also holds the career record for touchdowns (38), completions (472) and attempts (722). Hoffman is the sixth Penn football player to win the Bushnell Cup, which was established in 1970 and is voted on by the eight league coaches. He is, however, the first Penn QB to take home the award and the only junior for the Red and Blue to win it in the cup's 30-year history. Indianapolis Colts fullback Jim Finn was the last member of the Red and Blue to win the Bushnell cup after his outstanding senior campaign of 1998. Joining Hoffman on the All-Ivy first team were tight end Ben Zagorski and kicker Jason Feinberg, who now owns the Penn career scoring record with 218 points. On the other side of the ball, defensive tackles Ed and John Galan were honored with first team All-Ivy selections. The brothers were joined by senior cornerback Joey Alofaituli.
For the past quarter of a century, the Penn women's basketball team has searched in vain for Ivy League supremacy. Since Ancient Eight play began in the 1974-75 season, the Quakers have had some good teams, some solid players, some well-proven coaches. But there has been one simple thing that has eluded their grasp. One missing element that stands above all the rest. Twenty-five years. Zero Ivy League titles. In the 26th season of Ivy League competition, however, the basketball prognosticators believe that this trend may come to an end. The local media and the league's sports information offices have forecasted the Quakers to finish first in the Ancient Eight, slightly ahead of two-time defending league champion Dartmouth. The Quakers received 114 votes, while the Big Green tallied 110. Harvard finished in third place with 104 votes, followed by Yale, Brown, Cornell, Columbia and Princeton. Penn coach Kelly Greenberg was a bit surprised by the pick, but that doesn't mean that she's not confident in her team. "Our No. 1 goal is to win the Ivy League," the second-year coach remarked. "Anything short of that would be a disappointment. The Ivy League is really what it's all about." In her first season at the helm of the Red and Blue last year, Greenberg nearly led the Quakers to their first-ever Ivy League title. The Quakers looked like worldbeaters in cruising to a 6-0 start in league play. But a tough road loss to Dartmouth on February 12 began a stretch in which Penn lost five of its final eight league games and fell out of contention for the championship. Penn's 18-10 overall record was its best ever, and a 9-5 Ivy mark put the Quakers in second place behind Dartmouth in the league. And as disappointed as Greenberg was with the near miss at a ring, she still gives credit where credit is due. "We didn't lose it -- they won it," Greenberg said of Dartmouth's championship. "They were tougher than us." But for the Quakers, last year is now a distant memory. They believe that the 2000-2001 season will be the season in which they finally break through to the top of their league. They have plenty of reason to think so. The Quakers return arguably the greatest player in Penn history in senior co-captain Diana Caramanico. The honorable mention All-American and two-time Ivy League Player of the Year shattered record after record last year, most notably breaking Penn's career scoring mark. In her three-year tenure at Penn, the 6'2" forward has averaged 22.6 points and 11.6 rebounds. Yet she is far from finished. Records are nice, honors acceptable. But in her senior campaign, Caramanico wants, more than anything, to lead her team to an Ivy League title. "To win the Ivy League is my all-time No. 1 goal, no matter what," Caramanico said. She will be joined by junior Julie Epton and senior Jessica Allen in what makes up a very formidable frontcourt. Last season, Epton played her way into a starting role and notched 9.7 points per game, while pulling down 5.8 rebounds, second on the team only to Caramanico. Allen, a 6'3" center, hopes to rebound from a season in which she struggled with injuries and played 12.4 minutes per game, scoring 2.4 and pulling down 2.9 boards per contest. The Quakers backcourt suffered a major blow with the loss of Mandy West to graduation this past summer. The point guard and tri-captain averaged 20 points and 4.3 assists per game last season. West will certainly be missed, but Penn hopes to overcome the loss. "She's a big loss, but now we have a new personality and different leaders," Greenberg said. The void left by West will likely be filled by sophomore point guard Tara Twomey, who was the first player off the bench for the Red and Blue last season. Twomey dished out 88 assists on the season, and played in all 28 games, sometimes as West's backup, at times lining up at the point with West as the shooting guard. "Playing with Mandy for a year was great," Twomey said. "It definitely made me a better player for this year." Twomey will not be alone in the backcourt. Joining the 5'4" guard are two seasoned veterans in sophomore Jen Jones and senior co-captain Erin Ladley, both of whom started every game for the Quakers last season. Ladley averaged 9.1 points and 3.2 assists per game last season, while Jones recorded 5.9 points per contest. The Quakers' guard-heavy roster also includes seniors Claire Cavanaugh and Liz Alexander, and highly touted freshman Jewel Clark. With their abundance of guards, the Quakers will look to run the floor and put a lot of defensive pressure on their opponents. "We're working on defense a lot this year -- full-court pressure as well as half-court," Twomey said. "We want to talk to the other team and force a lot of turnovers." The Red and Blue kick off their season on Saturday when they travel to Hawk Hill to square off against Big 5 rival St. Joseph's. The Quakers will then participate in the Northwestern Tournament on the first two days of December before rounding out their Big 5 schedule with games against La Salle, Temple and Villanova on December 7, 9 and 12, respectively. "In the Big 5, every game is tough," Greenberg said. "Temple has a new coach in Dawn Staley, which is really going to help them a lot. La Salle is returning all of their starters. Villanova is returning all but one.... There is not an easy game in the Big 5." Nevertheless, the games will be a good preparation for Penn's Ivy League schedule, which begins on January 12-13 with a New York road trip to Columbia and Cornell and peaks with a huge home weekend against top league competitors, Harvard and Dartmouth on February 9-10. But, for now, Penn is simply focusing on St. Joe's and the start of the new season. When the Quakers take the floor on Saturday, a season of promise and anticipation will begin -- a season that they hope will end in their first-ever Ivy League championship.
It was a season that was supposed to be magical, a season in which the Penn women's soccer team would finally break through to the top of the Ivy League. High expectations ran through every one of the Quakers going into the 2000 season. The goal was clear: win the Ivy League and advance to their second straight NCAA Tournament. After a superb 1999 season -- in which only a Harvard overtime goal separated the Quakers from an Ancient Eight ring -- this goal seemed quite attainable. But for the Penn women's soccer team, things did not go quite as planned. After winning two of their first three non-league games to start the campaign, the Quakers played a huge home game against Harvard, a team that the Penn women's soccer program had never beaten. After Penn jumped out to a 1-0 lead, the Crimson struck back with two unanswered goals within a minute of each other. It was a momentum-killer and a shot in the leg, as the Quakers were defeated by a 2-1 margin. The Red and Blue would never recover that game. The Crimson not only shattered Penn's nine-game home-field winning streak, but also took command of the race for the Ivy League title. "That game set the tone for the rest of the season," senior midfielder Angela Konstantaras said retrospectively. "We should've won that game -- it was more frustrating than anything." After the loss to Harvard, the Quakers went on a five-game road trip, spanning nearly a month. Away from Rhodes Field, Penn won three out of five, but lost a key league game to Dartmouth. But it was the final game of their road trip that disappointed the Quakers the most. Although they tied Navy 0-0, Penn felt they totally dominated the game and were frustrated they were not able to put the ball in the net. "The Navy game was a point in our season in which frustration levels ran really high," senior co-captain Kelli Toland said. "Playing so well and not being able to pull out a win was really frustrating," Konstantaras added. Penn's inability to put the ball in the net would manifest itself from that point on and would hurt the Quakers for the rest of the season. After the loss to Navy, Penn won two straight against American and Columbia, but would go on to lose five of their last six contests, including Ancient Eight losses to Yale, Brown and Princeton. The Quakers played well defensively, but not being able to score was their tragic flaw. "Not being able to finish was our biggest problem," said Toland, who was slowed by an ankle injury for several games. "Other teams found a way, but we just couldn't find a way to win." The Quakers' 2-5 Ivy League record put them in sixth place, but they still received a bid to the ECAC Tournament. It was there that the Quakers bounced back. The Red and Blue defeated Northeastern and St. John's to win the four-team tournament this past weekend. "By finishing strong, we proved that we could really come together," Toland said. "Things began to click, and it gave people a lot of confidence." One thing is certain -- the 2000 season was a season of ups and downs. Finishing near the bottom of the Ivy League standings was a disappointment, but ending the season with an ECAC championship is very promising. With Penn coach Darren Ambrose adjusted to Ivy League play, and the continued progression of Penn's strong freshman class, the Quakers have every reason to be optimistic. "I definitely see Darren bringing the program to the top," Konstantaras said. "I have faith that they'll win the Ivy League championship."
For the Penn women's soccer team, the season ended rather fittingly. The Quakers were yet again unable to find the elusive back of the net as they were shut out for the sixth time this season. The Princeton Tigers were Saturday's aggressor, capturing a 1-0 victory along with an Ivy League title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. "We gave them the title on Saturday," senior midfielder Angela Konstantaras said. "You never want to do that with your biggest rival." Tigers midfielder Linley Gober gave the Orange and Black all that was needed with a goal in the 37th minute off a pass from sophomore defender Lynn Ariss. Princeton goalkeeper Jordan Rettig took care of the rest, recording her ninth shutout on the season and sixth in Ancient Eight competition. Once again, the Quakers offensive attack was subdued. "It's very frustrating -- we've been struggling with it all year," Konstantaras said. "We can't put the ball in the back of the net, and you're not going to win games that way." With the exception of Penn's five-goal offensive barrage against Lehigh last week, the Quakers have only been able to produce six goals in their last 10 games, a statistic that does not bode well for winning soccer games. Nevertheless, the team was pleased with its performance in the final game of its 2000 campaign. "All the girls played with heart, and everyone played really hard," Konstantaras said. "Minus the result, I was pleased with everything." "It was a well-fought game," senior co-captain Kelli Toland added. "We played with emotion and intensity." With the loss, the Red and Blue ended their season with an 8-8-1 overall record. The Quakers, losers of five of their last six contests, were only able to muster up a 2-5 league record on the season. The Quakers, however, credit this subpar season to a slew of adverse conditions, including injuries and a new coaching staff. "It was a tough year," Toland said. "With a new coach and new team dynamics, we had to adapt to a lot of changes." Injuries -- most notably Toland's ankle stress reaction -- also played a major role in the Quakers' demise. Despite the tough season, however, Toland will look back upon her collegiate soccer career with fond memories. "It's been such a big part of my life the last four years," she said. "The people involved have been my best friends. It's sad not to be a part of that anymore." The loss of five starters to graduation should hurt the Quakers next season, but Penn's seniors believe that the team has a bright and promising future with Darren Ambrose at the helm. "I have complete faith in Darren," Toland said. "He's a great addition to Penn's program. Both him and [assistant coach] Michelyne [Pinard] are so dedicated to making Penn a great program." Penn's five seniors, who helped carry the Quakers to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance last year, will end their collegiate soccer careers without a ring to show for their efforts. But Konstantaras believes that an Ivy League title is in Penn's future. "Darren is a very talented coach," she said. "His vision for Penn will come true. They will be Ivy League champions."
There were 20 seconds left on the clock, and the Penn women's soccer team was down to its last chance. With the clock -- representing an enemy greater than any opponent -- slowly ticking toward impending doom, the Quakers were doing everything in their power to do something that they hadn't been able to do all game -- score a goal. With the visiting Brown Bears ahead 1-0 on a windy Saturday afternoon at Rhodes Field, the Quakers lofted a corner kick high in the air, which was followed by a scramble just outside the 18-yard box. The ball trickled to senior co-captain Ashley Kjar, playing in the last Ivy League home game of her career. But fate was not on the Quakers' side. Kjar's desperation shot sailed just over the top of the crossbar, one of Penn's many missed opportunities on the afternoon. And just like that, the Red and Blue walked away from Rhodes Field with their fourth straight defeat, dropping to 7-7-1 overall and 2-4 in the Ivy League and practically obliterating any postseason hopes. "We wanted to win for our family, we wanted to win for each other," senior midfielder Angela Konstantaras said. "It's very disappointing." Konstantaras, along with Kjar, defender Shannon Porter, midfielder Aidan Viggiano and co-captain midfielder Kelli Toland, were honored for senior day before the game. The five seniors, who have faced the adversity of playing under three different coaches, have helped to carry the Quakers to new heights, topped off by the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament berth last year. However, in their final year donning the Red and Blue, they have experienced some rocky times. In a season marred by injuries -- most notably Toland's ankle injury, which has kept her out of many recent games, including the majority of Saturday's contest -- the Quakers fell to the bottom of the Ivy League standings and, with Saturday's loss, dropped to .500 overall. "The seniors wanted this win," Penn coach Darren Ambrose said. "They're a very team-oriented bunch and are selfless competitors. It's so unfair for them." In Saturday's Ancient Eight battle, both Brown and Penn had many legitimate scoring chances. But it was not until the 76th minute that either team was able to score. Brown junior Kim Lanzire, taking a pass from sophomore Caitlin Carey, fired a shot past Penn sophomore goalkeeper Katherine Hunt and into the net. Lanzire's goal, her fourth in as many games and eighth on the season, would be the only goal of the game, propelling the Bears to victory. "I give credit to them [Brown]," Ambrose said. "They hit an incredible shot. Those are the breaks and plays that make games." However, Ambrose and his team shared the common belief that, despite the defeat, they were the best soccer team at Rhodes Field on Saturday afternoon. "Good team's don't always win," Ambrose said. "Everyone knows that we're the better team, and we can say that about six out of our seven losses. "We just have not been able to buy a break this whole season -- it's the same story." "We outplayed Brown and had a lot more quality chances," Porter said. "We just couldn't manage to put it in the back of the net."
Kelli Toland sat on the bench and watched helplessly as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The senior co-captain could only glance up at the scoreboard. Yale 4, Penn 2. It was the Penn women's soccer team's second consecutive road loss and the second straight game in which Toland saw her minutes severely limited due to a stress reaction in her right ankle. Penn's season was taking a turn for the worse, and there was not much that the Quakers' All-Ivy midfielder could do about it. "It's just disappointing that I can't be out there with them," Toland said. "It's frustating to watch and know that I can't be with my teammates." Toland will not see any action today when the Quakers (7-5-1) welcome Villanova to Rhodes Field at 3:30 p.m., with the hope that she will be able to return to the lineup when the Red and Blue host Brown on Saturday. "It feels better than it has," Toland said. "There are times when it really hurts, but I'm hoping to be ready for Brown." Toland's ankle injury, however, is not the only injury plaguing the Red and Blue currently. Senior midfielder Aidan Viggiano had to leave Saturday's game with a shin contusion, and senior co-captain Ashley Kjar and sophomore forward Heidi Nichols played through pain. "I hate excuses, but we have a lot of injuries," Penn assistant coach Michelyne Pinard said. "I don't know if anyone is 100 percent healthy. And when you're playing good teams like Yale, you need everyone to be healthy." The beaten-up Quakers will try to fight through those injuries when the Wildcats (10-8) come to Rhodes this afternoon. Only Toland will miss the game due to injury. "This is especially hard for Kelli because she is a senior," Pinard said. "This is one of her last games at Rhodes, and she won't be playing. "She is so committed to the team and the program. It's emotionally pretty tough for her right now." However, just because the senior leader is out of the lineup doesn't mean she stops performing her role as captain. "She still has an important impact on the team," said senior midfielder Angela Konstantaras, who has helped to fill the void in Toland's absence. "Even from the bench she provides an element of leadership. She's still very supportive and vocal." The Quakers will look to come out victorious today despite the loss of their captain. They will face a Villanova squad that is 10-8 on the season and 2-4 in Big East play. The Wildcats -- currently in sixth place in the Mid-Atlantic region of the Big East conference -- are coming off a two-game winning streak, but have played their last six games at home. Today's trip to West Philadelphia will be the first time the Wildcats have left the Main Line since October 1. Combine this with the Quakers' usually dominant play at Rhodes Field and it looks as if the Red and Blue have a distinct advantage. "[Villanova is] organized in the back and have a lot of speed," Pinard said. "It's going to be a battle." The Quakers will also look to remain perfect against Philadelphia-area schools. While little has gone right for the Red and Blue in Ancient Eight competition this year, Penn is undefeated against city rivals -- defeating both St. Joe's and Drexel in September. A win against Villanova today would give the Quakers a claim to regional bragging rights. "You always want to play well and beat close inner-town rivals," Pinard said. The bottom line for the Quakers is that the season is far from being over. No matter how disappointed the team is with its subpar league record, it will continue to play hard and try to run the table in its final four games. "Did we expect more from the season? Absolutely," Pinard said. "But we're hoping to finish off the season on a strong note and help build the program for the future."
For the Penn women's soccer team, this season began with the highest of hopes. Aspirations of a second consecutive NCAA berth loomed large, and the goal of winning its first-ever Ivy League crown trickled into the thoughts of every Quaker. But after a tough weekend in Connecticut, it looks as if these dreams will not turn into reality. A 4-2 defeat at the hands of Yale in New Haven, Conn., on Saturday gave the Quakers their second straight road loss and sent them reeling into the bottom-half of the Ancient Eight standings. With the loss, Penn (7-5-1, 2-3) dropped to sixth place in the Ivy League, ahead of only cellar-dwellers Cornell and Columbia, two teams that it has already beaten. With only two league games left -- against Brown and Princeton -- it looks as if the Quakers will fail to capture their first league crown. The Red and Blue, perhaps realizing that their postseason hopes dwindled with the loss, were extremely frustrated with their performance. "As a whole, we didn't start playing our game until the last 15, 20 minutes," senior midfielder Angela Konstantaras said. "We can't do that against good teams -- we have to play a solid 90 minutes, which is what we've been struggling with all season." Konstantaras, however, was a spark-plug for the Quakers, netting a goal in the first half to even the score at one goal apiece by halftime. Taking a pass from freshman midfielder Heather Issing, Konstantaras chipped it over the goalkeeper and into the net, recording her second goal of the season. In the second half, Issing continued to show her offensive prowess, scoring a goal off an assist from junior forward Sabrina Fenton. However, those two goals would not be enough for the Quakers. Yale's attack was simply more dominant. Led by three forwards -- an unconventional alignment -- the Elis netted four goals on 18 shots off Penn sophomore goalkeeper Katherine Hunt. "There was definitely a breakdown in our defense," Konstantaras said. "Yale played a long-ball game, and with three defenders, we played a zonal defense. And when the defense stepped out of their zone, we gave them some chances." But the defense, which gave up two more goals than they had in any previous contest this season, has been a force for the Red and Blue all year. The Quakers know that they can't point any fingers. "We had some problems clearing the ball, but the defense wasn't that bad," Issing said. "They had a really strong attack and we had only three defenders." There's no doubt the the Elis played a superior game in New Haven. Still, the Red and Blue were hampered by a host of injuries. Penn senior co-captain and midfielder Kelli Toland made the start on Saturday, but her playing time was limited by a recurring stress reaction in her right ankle. Senior midfielder Aidan Viggiano has a similar story, starting but having to leave later on with a shin contusion. Co-captain Ashley Kjar and Heidi Nichols played the majority of the game but were also slowed by injuries. This loss is certainly a setback for coach Darren Ambrose's squad, but the Quakers still have plenty to play for. "We take great pride in playing for Penn," Konstantaras said. "The next four games we have to go out and play the best we ever have in order to avoid ending the season on a sour note."
There were 10 minutes remaining in the game and things looked bleak for the Penn women's soccer team. The Quakers were in the midst of playing one of their worst games of the season, unable to score a goal against a clearly inferior opponent in American University. To make matters worse, senior co-captain midfielder Kelli Toland was sidelined for a good portion of the game with a stress fracture in her right ankle -- the first time she had watched from the bench all season. But midway through the second half, Toland was called into the game to do one job and one job only -- to lead her team to victory. She did exactly that, as Penn walked away with a 1-0 victory. Almost as soon as she stepped onto the field, Toland received a pass from fellow senior and co-captain Ashley Kjar and broke away toward the goal. Fighting the pain in her ankle, she fired a shot under American goalkeeper Jackie Sierodzinski and into the net. "I just feel good to be able to help my team win," Toland said. "No matter who scored, it just feels good to be able to walk away from the game with a win." It took 80 minutes, but the Quakers were finally able to get on the scoreboard. Immediately after breaking the scoreless deadlock, Toland limped to the sideline. Her teammates took care of the rest, shutting down the Eagles for the final 10 minutes just as they had done all game. Toland had done her job. She had done what she was called to do. "That's why she's the captain," senior midfielder Angela Konstantaras said. "We needed someone to step up and she took that responsibility." "She did her job as a captain," Penn coach Darren Ambrose said simply. The victory improved the Quakers to 6-3-1 on the season, while boosting their Rhodes Field record to 3-1. But despite the victory, the game left a bad taste in the mouth of many of the Quakers. "It was absolutely ugly," Ambrose said bluntly. "We went from playing one of the best games of the year to possibly the worst." Yesterday's game, however, was quite similar to the 0-0 draw at Navy on Sunday in that Penn showed offensive control of both games from start to finish. In yesterday's victory, the Quakers outshot the Eagles by a staggering margin of 21-2. But Ambrose was quick to point out that the shots were not dangerous and that the team should have been able to put more goals on the scoreboard. "We're not committed enough in front of the goal," Ambrose said. "We're incredibly frustrated right now -- we can't continue to go through games and play the way that we are playing." Like their coach, the rest of the Quakers were also disappointed with the way they played. "I'm happy with the win, but the game showed us the things that we have to work on, mainly finishing once we're in the box," Toland said. Konstantaras was quick to point out what she thought the problems were. "We were all playing our own individual games and we were a little sluggish, not at all in sync with each other," she said. "It was all a mental breakdown -- we weren't ready to play." The Quakers realize that if they play the same way as they did yesterday, they cannot expect an easy win this weekend in a Rhodes Field battle against Ivy rival Columbia. But Penn is hoping to bounce back and even its Ancient Eight record to 2-2 against a Columbia team that is currently 0-3 and sitting alone in the Ivy League basement. Despite the Lions' record, the Quakers realize that every Ivy League game is a battle. "Columbia is always a tough game," Toland said. "They're aggressive and fast. We're just gonna have to match them." And to match the Lions, the Quakers know that they have to put up a better performance than yesterday's game. "We need to show up ready to play," Konstantaras said. "We can't lose anymore -- today was definitely a wake-up call."
It's been nearly a month since the Penn women's soccer team walked solemnly away from Rhodes Field after suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of Harvard -- a defeat that ended its year-long home-field winning streak. Since that time, the Quakers have been on the road, traveling everywhere from Long Island to New Hampshire to Maryland, compiling a 3-1-1 record on their extended vacation from Rhodes. Since that heartbreaking loss to the Crimson, the schedule-makers have not permitted the Red and Blue to reclaim their home turf and to, perhaps, put together another home winning streak. Until today, that is. This afternoon at 3:30, Penn (5-3-1) will take on American (2-8-2) at Rhodes Field, where the Quakers will once again hear the familiar buzz of the Schuylkill Expressway as they play their first home contest in what has seemed like an eternity. "I can't even begin to tell you how happy we are to be coming home," Penn coach Darren Ambrose said. "It's been one long road trip, and I am very proud of how we have handled ourselves this month." "Everyone on the team is very excited to be done with the road trip and to get back and play at home," junior forward Sabrina Fenton added. The Quakers have good reason to be excited for their return. While playing at home gives an advantage to all athletic teams, the Penn women's soccer team is an extreme case. The Quakers absolutely dominate on their home turf. In their last 10 games at Rhodes, the Quakers have won all but the Harvard game, a team that they have never beaten in their nine-year varsity history. In that stretch, the Red and Blue have outscored their opponents by a staggering margin of 24-3. So what gives Penn such an extreme home-field advantage? "Rhodes Field is really not like any other field," senior defender and co-captain Ashley Kjar explained. "It's a really big field, and it is very hard for other teams to adjust." But as the Quakers have proven in the past three weeks, they can also hold their own outside of West Philly. In five games against stellar competition, the Quakers only lost once -- a heartbreaking overtime defeat to Dartmouth. And their one tie came in what Ambrose called the "best-played game of the season." Penn's 0-0 draw to Navy on Sunday ended the five-game road trip on a fairly high note. Despite not coming away with a win, the Quakers still put together many scoring opportunities and dominated the game from start to finish. "I really feel good about how we are playing right now," Ambrose said. "To handle traveling and the teams we've played, I'm very happy with the way we have dealt with being away from home so often." The one problem that remains, however, is the Quakers' lack of touch in the 18-yard box. Despite the recent adjustment to a 3-5-2 alignment, which gives Penn an extra midfielder, the team has still had some difficulty putting the ball in the back of the net. In their last three games, the Quakers have only been able to muster up one goal. "We have to be more committed and composed in front of the goal," Ambrose said. "We've created so many chances, but we need to follow up on them now." The Quakers, however, believe that their new formation is getting better and more battle-tested as it continues to get more experience. "The more comfortable we get with it, the better it is," Fenton said. "The midfielders and forwards working together gives us many more scoring opportunities." The Quakers will look to capitalize on some of these scoring chances this afternoon against a team that has been struggling thus far this season. American, returning 10 starters from an 8-10 team of a year ago, had high expectations going into their 2000 campaign. But new coach and former American men's soccer standout Michael Brady has failed to produce in his first season at the helm. Fresh off a recent loss to Penn's arch-rival Princeton, the Eagles stand at a lowly 2-8-2 record with its only wins coming against Towson and UNC-Wilmington. But at such a crucial junction in the season, Ambrose knows that he cannot afford to take any team lightly. "Our next game is always our most important game," Ambrose remarked. "We respect everybody and fear nobody -- that's our motto this year."
This past weekend in Sydney, the United States women's soccer team was stunned by Norway in the gold medal game. A goal in the 102nd minute gave the Norwegians the gold and left the heavily-favored Americans devastated. Halfway around the world, the Penn women's soccer team knew how the American team felt. The Quakers were also killed suddenly on a goal 12 minutes into extra time, with Dartmouth playing the role of spoiler, winning 1-0. And like the American internationals, the loss surprised the Red and Blue and left them extremely disappointed. "Unfortunately, we didn't play as well as we would have liked," Penn assistant coach Michelyne Pinard said. "And Dartmouth is too good a team for us not to show up." The game between the Big Green (4-2, 1-1 Ivy League) and the Quakers (4-3, 1-2 Ivy League) at Hanover, N.H., on Saturday featured strong defensive performances on both sides. The Quakers backfield was led by seniors Ashley Kjar and Shannon Porter and junior Sarah Campbell, whose efforts stifled the Dartmouth offensive attack throughout regulation. Dartmouth, which had to play without two of its starters who were out with injuries, also played a solid defensive game. Nonetheless, the Quakers had some good scoring opportunities, especially at the start of the second half when they began to play more cohesively. Penn, however, was unable to capitalize on its scoring chances. And like their opponent, the Quakers couldn't find the back of the net. The scoreboard read 0s after 90 minutes of hard-fought play. "We were unable to come up with a clutch goal, which is definitely one of our problems right now." Penn forward Sabrina Fenton said. Penn's lack of killer instinct would come back to haunt it. After a somewhat evenly matched overtime period, the Big Green struck first and ended the contest 102 minutes after the opening kickoff. A high lofted cross by Dartmouth senior Jessica Post was punched away by Penn goalkeeper Vanessa Scotto, but the ball was not cleared out of the 18-yard box. A scramble for the ball ensued deep in Penn territory. Despite goal-saving clears by Campbell and senior midfielder Angela Konstantaras, Dartmouth sophomore Laura Ashley found the ball at her feet inside the box. Ashley converted on the opportunity, giving the Big Green their first league win and sending the Quakers home with their second Ivy loss in three league matches. "If we had cleared the ball more efficiently, maybe it wouldn't have been a goal," Fenton said. Scotto, who recorded eight saves and played a terrific game in goal, was very disappointed with the final outcome. "We were really upset -- we expected to win the game," Scotto said. "If we would've played our game, we would have won." Instead, they have to do their best to bounce back after a heartbreaking defeat. With Princeton and Brown as the only Ivy teams undefeated in the league, an Ancient Eight crown is still well within Penn's reach. "We're not going to crash and burn," Fenton said. "We're not gonna go down this easy. We're going to prove to the nation that we're a good team."
The date is September 10, 2000. The Penn women's soccer team is playing St. Joseph's in its first home game of the season. Michelyne Pinard, the first-year assistant coach for the Quakers, sits on the home bench and looks around at the players at Rhodes Field as a swarm of memories come flooding back. For a moment, she sees herself out there. She envisions herself proudly wearing Dartmouth colors, doing everything in her power to defeat the home Quakers. The warm rays of sunlight beat down on her. Suddenly, it is November 15, 1997. After a hard-fought game, Dartmouth has just fallen 1-0 to the Red and Blue in the semifinals of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament at Rhodes Field, knocking the Big Green out of postseason play. Pinard sits down, unable to comprehend what has just happened. The senior center midfielder has just played in her final collegiate soccer game. Rhodes Field has been the site of such disappointment; the Quakers the team that ended her dream, her lifelong passion. "When I walked out to the field originally, the memory that came to my mind was just sitting after the [ECAC] game, and I specifically remember where it was -- to the right of the away benches," Pinard recollected. "I was just sitting there and realizing that my collegiate soccer career was over, which was pretty hard to swallow for sure." Pinard, a two-sport varsity athlete, also ran into a wall in her ice hockey career. A year earlier, Pinard took her junior year off from the soccer team to try out for the 1998 United States Olympic ice hockey squad. Fifty women tried out -- Pinard was cut. She had worked so hard her entire life, but suddenly there was nowhere else to go athletically. "You spend your whole life working towards playing at the highest level possible and then all of a sudden there's nothing left," Pinard said. "So in some ways, you're proud that you made it and achieved your goal, but there's something definitely missing." Less than three years after her days at Dartmouth ended, Pinard is back in the Ivy League, ironically at the same place in which her soccer career ended -- the University of Pennsylvania. Her playing days are over, but her passion for soccer remains the same. Pinard is doing her best to spread her knowledge and love for the game to the women wearing Red and Blue. She is far from bitter over that sunny day back in 1997 when her days of playing soccer came to an end. In fact, she has come to accept it. "I think over the last two years being away from playing competitively, I've grown a bit and realized that, for me, coaching is the next step," Pinard said. "I miss playing a lot, but it's special to still be a part of their bigger picture -- Ivy League soccer -- which is special because of the history and the continuous rivalries that are established because every team is competitive." Ivy League soccer is one constant that Pinard continues to have in her life. However, it might be the only constant. Living in small towns all her life, Pinard is still trying to adjust to life in the big city. "When I'm walking down the street, I'm eager to make eye contact and say Ohi' to everyone I see," Pinard said. "But I'm kind of learning that that's not the way the city works. "That's probably the hardest part," she continued. "I'm surrounded by so many people and yet I don't know very many, whereas at Dartmouth, you walk across campus and you know pretty much everyone." The differences between Hanover, N.H., home of Dartmouth College, and West Philadelphia are quite extensive, even on the soccer field. "It's kind of different just being on the practice field," Pinard commented. "At Penn, you're surrounded by Route 76, and at Dartmouth you're surrounded by mountains." Despite these major differences in her lifestyle, Pinard loves her new opportunity and her new home. Dartmouth is just a distant memory, right? Wrong. This weekend, Pinard will return to Hanover when the Quakers square off against Dartmouth in a huge Ivy League game. This time, however, Pinard will sit on the visitors bench and will not be dressed in shinguards and high socks. Same school. Same field. Different job. One thing is for certain -- there will be plenty of emotion involved when she makes her long-awaited return. "It will be tough to detach myself from the emotional connections to Dartmouth," said Pinard, who will oppose some of the same players with whom she once played. "I had a great four years there, and soccer was an unbelievable experience." However, Pinard knows that she is part of a new program. "As much as I connect and relate to Dartmouth, I am part of the Penn program now, and I have connected with this team," she said. "It will be very fun to see the game and just sit back and say Owow,' because its pretty special to be a part of these two great programs in different ways."
After a brief stopover in Long Island, where the Penn women's soccer team made quick work of Stony Brook, the Quakers will get back into Ivy League play this weekend as they travel to Ithaca, N.Y., to square off against league-rival Cornell. The Big Red, fresh off a loss to Penn State on Tuesday, will come into the contest with a lowly 1-3 record, having fallen to all of their non-league opponents. Penn coach Darren Ambrose, however, believes the Big Red are better than their record might indicate. "They are not a 1-3 team. They lost to Penn State and went on the road and lost two in Colorado. When you go on the road in Colorado, you're going to get tough games," Ambrose said. "Their record does not really reflect the team that they are." The Big Red's win at Columbia last weekend also bodes well for Cornell. The 2-1 victory has catapulted them to the top of the Ivy League standings, at least for the moment. After just one game, Cornell has already produced half of the wins that it recorded last season in Ancient Eight competition, a season that saw the Big Red finish with just a 2-5 league record. The Quakers were one of the Ivy League squads that beat up on Cornell last year, shutting them out, 1-0, at Rhodes Field. It's a different year and a different field, but the Red and Blue will look to once again defeat the women from Ithaca. The task will be more difficult this season, however, being that Penn must go on the road and play on unfamiliar territory. "Any Ivy League game is a battle -- home or away," Ambrose said. "The fact that you're playing away makes it that much more difficult." Ambrose went on to cite the difficulties of playing soccer games on the road. "You have to travel, you have to adjust to field conditions, you have to get off a three-hour bus trip and go out and play," he said. "Road games are tough... period." Road game or not, the Red and Blue understand that this is a must-win game. They cannot afford to drop their first two league games and fall any deeper into the Ancient Eight basement. "We only have seven games a year in our league, and each one is highly valued," Ambrose said. "So we need to get off with a win in the Ivies... and this is a great time to do it." But if the Quakers want to win this weekend, they know that they have to continue to improve and finish on more scoring opportunities, something they have been struggling with recently. Simply put, they have to put the ball in the back of the net. "We're trying to play better and better than the game before," central defender and senior co-captain Ashley Kjar said. "Our main goal this weekend is to finish chances because against Harvard we didn't do that. "We gotta win this weekend," she added. The time is now and Penn knows it. A loss could put the Quakers out of the running for a league championship, while a victory would give the Red and Blue some much-needed momentum. Despite this pressure, the Quakers are still quite confident with their chances on Sunday. "We expect to play well and hopefully come away with a win," said freshman forward Ayla Gustafson, one of the many Penn newcomers this season. "We're all really excited for the game," sophomore forward Heidi Nichols added. "All Ivy League games are huge."
In a matter of seconds, everything came crashing down on the Penn women's soccer team. Its nine-game, two-year home winning streak? Over. Its chances of winning its first-ever Ivy League title? Severely threatened. Its inability to beat Harvard? Still alive. All on a Harvard two-goal spurt in the 72nd minute. All in a matter of seconds. In this highly anticipated match, both the Quakers and Crimson came out intense and physical in Saturday's Ancient Eight battle at Rhodes Field. Harvard controlled possession for a good portion of the first half, but it was Penn that had the majority of good scoring opportunities. Fifteen minutes into the contest, Penn sophomore midfielder Jennifer Valentine shot just wide from point-blank range. A minute later, sophomore forward Heather Taylor hit the top crossbar on a deep strike. "We had a lot of legit chances to win the game," Penn coach Darren Ambrose said after the game. "We cannot miss chances to score against Harvard." Both squads went shot for shot the rest of the half in a great battle of will and determination. But neither team could get the ball in the back of the net, and the scoreboard read zeroes at halftime. It was not until the 58th minute that either team could record a goal. The Quakers took a 1-0 lead when senior midfielder and co-captain Kelli Toland sent a through ball to Taylor, who beat the last Crimson defender before firing a strike over the outstretched arms of Harvard sophomore goalkeeper Cheryl Gunther. The goal ignited a massive Quakers celebration as all the players jumped on the sophomore forward just inside the 18-yard box. The jubilation, however, would be short-lived. In the 72nd minute, Harvard sophomore forward and leading goal-scorer Joey Yenne plowed a deep shot that landed over Penn sophomore goalkeeper Katherine Hunt and into the upper-right corner of the goal, tying the game at one goal apiece. With the added momentum, the Crimson took the lead just 20 seconds later on another deep shot, this one coming off the foot of senior midfielder Meredith Stewart. "We've got to learn to play with a lead," Ambrose said. "After we score a goal, it's not the time to let down -- it's the time to step up and put the foot on the gas." Ambrose, however, acknowledged that the two Harvard goals were well-deserved. "Our defending was tremendous. I'd take that again," Ambrose said, referring to the Crimson's two long goals. After Harvard took the 2-1 lead, the Quakers put a lot of pressure on the Crimson. They had a lot of chances, but they simply could not find the back of the net. Just as time was expiring, Penn senior midfielder Angela Konstantaras, who played tremendously well all game, beat a Harvard defender wide before feeding it to fellow senior and co-captain Ashley Kjar in the middle. But time ran out before a shot could be made. Time ran out on the seniors who have accomplished so much in the past four years, but who have never beaten Harvard. Time ran out on the hearts of all the Quakers. "There's nothing I can say that can adequately explain how this team feels," Ambrose said. "It's gut-wrenching." "I'm utterly, completely and totally disappointed," a devastated Toland added. The disappointment for the Red and Blue is quite understandable. Not only did the Quakers lose their home-field winning streak, but the seniors missed their final opportunity to defeat the only Ivy team that they never have. Adding to the disappointment is the fact that this marks the third straight year in which Penn blew a 1-0 lead before falling to the Crimson, 2-1. Nevertheless, the Quakers will walk away from the game with their heads held high. "As a team unit, we played with all our heart," Konstantaras said. "We left everything on the field -- no regrets." "I'm more proud of this team now than I was before," Ambrose said. "There's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of."
Nine is the magic number for the Penn women's soccer team. The Red and Blue enter tomorrow's battle with Harvard at Rhodes Field on a nine-game home winning streak. At the same time, however, the Crimson have beaten the Quakers nine straight times, every year since the Penn women's soccer team achieved varsity status in 1991. One of these streaks will come to a screeching halt tomorrow at 1 p.m. as these two Ivy League powerhouses collide. The only question is which it will be. One thing is for certain -- both teams have an enormous amount of respect for each other. "We're trying to get ready for a team that we respect a great deal," Harvard coach Tim Wheaton said. "They have great players, and we know that it's going to be a battle." Wheaton leads a Harvard team that has owned the Ivy League the past five years, winning the Ancient Eight title all but one season since 1995. The Crimson were blanked by Texas A&M;, 3-0, in the first game of their 2000 campaign, but quickly bounced back to stomp Vermont, 7-1. They are currently ranked 21st in the nation. The women from Cambridge are certainly a force to be reckoned with. The Quakers know this. They know that they have never beaten the Crimson in the history of the women's soccer program. They remember their overtime loss to Harvard last season and how it cost them their first-ever Ivy League title. But they are not scared. In fact, they are more confident than ever. "We're especially motivated," Penn sophomore forward Heather Taylor said. "We've been preparing for this game ever since we lost last year." "We're very confident," Penn coach Darren Ambrose added. "Right now we're playing as well as we can going into the game." The Quakers will count on their home-field advantage to be a huge factor in tomorrow's battle. They have not lost a game at Rhodes Field since 1998 and will defend their home turf at all costs. "Every time we step on our field, we're set to defend it with whatever we have," Taylor said. "There's an incredible element of pride -- on our turf, we expect to win," Ambrose added. "Home-field advantage in the Ivy League is huge." On the opposing sideline, however, Wheaton is a bit skeptical of how important the advantage really is. "Every team loves to play at home, but games are pretty much the same everywhere," he said. But although he does not fear the atmosphere of Rhodes Field, he does lose sleep over Penn's first team All-Ivy star. "Kelli Toland is one of the best players in the league, and we have a great deal of respect for her," Wheaton said. "Kelli has the ability to take control of a game, and that's what we're concerned with." Toland and the Quakers will look to take control of the game from the start and do something that they have never done -- beat Harvard. But to do that, they know that they have to play a near-flawless game. "Everything has got to be close to perfect," said junior defender Sarah Campbell, who scored her first collegiate goal in Wednesday's contest against Drexel. "Everything has to come together for this game." Tomorrow's game is all about pride. Harvard's win over the Red and Blue in Boston last year shattered Penn's dreams of a championship. When the Quakers step on the field tomorrow, they will look for revenge, knowing that the winner will probably become the odds-on favorite to win the Ancient Eight crown. "There is so much pride in this game," Campbell said. "It's more than just a soccer game when we step on the field."
The script was followed perfectly. Another strong home defensive performance. Another balanced offensive attack. Another shutout victory for the Penn women's soccer team. And yes, the game was played at Rhodes Field. With a 4-0 win over Drexel yesterday, the Quakers extended their home winning streak to nine. The team has allowed only one goal during this streak, which began with Penn's first home game of last season. It's almost becoming automatic. Penn controlled the contest from the very start, maintaining possession for the better part of the game and pushing the Dragons back on their heels. The Quakers got on the board just five minutes into the game with a nicely executed give-and-go by senior Angela Konstantaras and Kelli Toland. Toland dished it to Konstantaras on the right wing before receiving it back at the top of the 18-yard box. The senior captain then found the top left corner of the net to put the Quakers up 1-0. "Combination play is something that we've been working on," Toland said. "We've played together for four years, so we know each other's playing styles." The Red and Blue put another one in the back of the net with 12 minutes left in the half on a Toland through-ball to junior forward Sabrina Fenton. The goal gave the Quakers a 2-0 margin, a lead that they would take into the half. The second half brought more of the same for the Red and Blue as they continued to shut down the Drexel offensive attack while penetrating their defense at will. Before the Dragons could even catch their breath, Konstantaras juked out Drexel junior defender Katie Daniels on the right side with a hesitation move that left Daniels dazed and confused. The senior midfielder then crossed it into the middle to find wide-open junior defender Sarah Campbell, who put the Quakers up 3-0 just two minutes into the second half. "[Penn] Coach [Darren Ambrose] has been working with me to stay wide and then dump it in to whoever is open," Konstantaras said. Eight minutes later, Toland notched her second assist of the game to sophomore forward Heidi Nichols to complete the Penn goal scoring. "We keep on building and playing better and better than the game before," senior co-captain Ashley Kjar said after the win. The victory marked the eighth shutout in the last nine home games for the Quakers. The defense, anchored by Campbell and Kjar in the middle, allowed minimal offensive pressure and controlled the pace of the game. Newcomer freshman goalie Vanessa Scotto notched her second shutout of the season while recording five saves. "We defended as well as we have at any time since preseason," said Ambrose, who, with the win, improved to 2-1 in his head coaching career. "We gave up possession in the first half, but we quickly solved that problem." "I'm really happy with our defense," Toland added. "We played 90 minutes of great defense, which is very encouraging." But more important than anything is the incredible home-field advantage that the Quakers have created for themselves. They have not lost a game at Rhodes Field since 1998, which will bode very well for them as they host three-time defending Ivy League champion Harvard to kick off Ancient Eight competition this Saturday. "We're going in on a really high note," Ambrose said. "They [Harvard] are coming into Rhodes, so the pressure is more on them than us." "Rhodes Field is all about pride," Toland said. "All energy, all heart, all commitment." But more than that, Rhodes Field is all about Penn winning.
Michelyne Pinard has never lived in a city. She grew up in Clinton, N.Y., far from the hustle and bustle of New York City, before attending college in rural Hanover, N.H., home of the Dartmouth Big Green. After her college days, Pinard became the assistant soccer and ice hockey coach for Middlebury College in Vermont, far from anything that resembles a bustling metropolis. Pinard is now the assistant coach of the Penn women's soccer team and resides in West Philadelphia. The crow of the rooster has been replaced with the rumbling of garbage trucks. Nevertheless, Pinard is excited to be living in Philadelphia and to help lead an outstanding women's soccer program. "All around this is very exciting for me," Pinard said. "This is a great school and a great soccer program." As a former standout ice hockey and soccer player at Dartmouth, Pinard brings along with her plenty of Ivy League experience. "Being familiar with the Ivy League has helped me make the transition," Pinard said. "[Head coach] Darren [Ambrose] has never been within the Ivy League, so hopefully I can offer a different perspective than he can. "Ivy League soccer is one of the top conferences in the country, and I am honored to be a part of it," she added. Although West Philadelphia isn't anything like Hanover, Pinard still feels right at home
For anyone who has ever helped to prepare and lead a team into battle, the greatest ambition is to be the head coach.<P> It is the pulse and their driving force. It is what makes them want to succeed.<P> For Darren Ambrose, that opportunity has arrived.<P> After serving as an assistant coach for three different colleges, Ambrose, a former standout collegiate goalkeeper, is relishing his opportunity as the new head coach of the Penn women's soccer team.<P> "It's nice to be able to put my ideas on the field as opposed to help putting ideas on the field," <P>Ambrose said, citing the added benefits of being a head coach. "I'm now running my own program as opposed to helping with someone else's program."<P> Despite never being a collegiate head coach, Ambrose's resume is long on experience.<P> Born near Sheffield, England, Ambrose began his soccer career at a young age, playing soccer with the youth programs of Sheffield United of the English first division and later Doncaster Rovers of the English third division.<P> After playing the sport he loved throughout his childhood and teenage years, Ambrose packed his bags and traveled across the Atlantic to take his soccer skills to the United States, where he enrolled at Division II national power South Carolina-Spartanburg.<P> As the starting goalkeeper for the Spartanburg Rifles, Ambrose quickly made his presence felt, shattering many school records on the way to a 41-13-4 career record.<P> Ambrose led USCS to the NCAA Tournament in 1991 and 1992 before being named the Adidas National Player of the Year for the '92-93 season.<P> After his days in college, Ambrose spent one year playing for the Columbia Spirit of the United States Indoor Soccer League before beginning his promising coaching career.<P> He served as the men's assistant coach at Connecticut under legendary head coach Joe Morrone followed by a three-year stint as the men's and women's assistant coach at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.<P> At Rhodes, Ambrose compiled a record of 77-33-3 while helping lead the squad to two NCAA Tournament appearances and a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship.<P> After his tenure at Rhodes, Ambrose continued to climb the coaching ladder, becoming the assistant coach at Florida State under former Penn head coach Patrick Baker, serving there one year before getting his big break with the Quakers.<P> "I have put myself in situations where I was always working with great coaches," Ambrose said. "I have reaped the benefits of all of the coaches that I have worked under."<P> His success as a coach should benefit a Quakers team which is already near the top of its game.<P> Since its inception in 1991, the Penn women's soccer team has made great strides and last year made it to its first-ever NCAA Tournament.<P> "Last year was a crescendo for this team and the product of years of hard work," Ambrose said. "I feel a little pressure to make sure the success continues, but I would not have come here if I didn't think that I could win and help the program continue to move upwards."<P> Ambrose, with his impressive coaching history, should have no problem helping the Quakers continue the program's upward strides.<P> "Darren has come from great programs and has coached with great coaches," newly appointed assistant coach Michelyne Pinard said. "He has a lot to offer the women's game."<P> Despite the Red and Blue's recent success, however, it is still faced with the daunting situation of trying to adapt to its third coach in as many years.<P> "We all resist change, but the juniors and seniors have done a fantastic job of adapting and being open-minded to new ideas," Ambrose said. "With a new coach and 12 freshmen, the team has had to adjust a lot and has done a great job with it."<P> As a player, Ambrose found himself in a similar situation as the athletes on his newly inherited Quakers squad, also having three different coaches in his collegiate career. He is thus quite familiar with the difficult transition that his players now encounter, and he will work hard to familiarize himself with the team and overcome the problems that could arise.<P> While Ambrose will soon lead his team into competitive Ancient Eight competition in a quest for a second-straight NCAA appearance, he also understands the importance of being a well-rounded student-athlete.<P> An Academic All-American himself in his playing days, Ambrose believes that the Quakers should focus on their studies and their other in-school commitments as much as soccer.<P> In addition, Ambrose has set a team goal of 100 hours of community service each semester.<P> "Student-athletes benefit by helping in the community," Ambrose said. "It puts things in perspective, and it is the idea of having a higher education.<P> "Our aim is to help and to be role models."<P> One thing is for certain. Ambrose is an excellent role model for his team -- both on and off the field.