Category Archives: Women’s Soccer

A memorable weekend for Penn sports

What a weekend.

From overtime heroics to last-second goals to penalty shootouts to routs of Princeton, these past couple of days simply had everything you can ask for if you’re a Penn sports fan. And best of all, it all came at home.

If you missed any of it, here’s a recap of Penn’s remarkable 5-0-1 record over the weekend, and what it means going forward as the fall season begins to wind down.

Football

Football

Despite record-breaking quarterback Billy Ragone being sidelined with a foot injury, the Quakers remained perfect in the Ivy League with a 28-17 win over Yale on Saturday at Franklin Field. Fifth-year senior Ryan Becker, who usually platoons with Ragone, completed 77 percent of his passes and threw for two touchdowns in the win, Penn’s seventh straight against Ivy competition. Running back Kyle Wilcox contributed 158 total yards and receiver Conner Scott caught a TD while eclipsing 1,000 career receiving yards.

Men's Soccer

Men’s Soccer

In one of the most dramatic games of the weekend, the Quakers beat Yale in overtime, 3-2, on the strength of a 94th-minute goal from senior Stephen Baker, who also assisted on Penn’s first two goals Saturday night at Rhodes Field. Goalkeeper Tyler Kinn allowed Penn to get to OT with a huge save in the final seconds of regulation. With a 3-0-1 record in the league, Penn now sits all alone in first place in the Ivies.

Women's Soccer

Women’s Soccer

It was the only game of the weekend that didn’t end in a Penn win – but it still produced one of the most thrilling moments. With time winding down and the Quakers about to drop a 1-0 decision to Yale on Saturday at Rhodes Field, Penn was awarded a penalty kick. And senior Kerry Scalora delivered, scoring the PK goal to tie the game at 1-1, which is how the score would remain through overtime. With a 3-1-1 Ivy record, the Quakers are tied for second place with Brown, behind only unbeaten Harvard.

Field Hockey

Field hockey

The new stadium continues to pay big dividends for the Quakers, who improved to 3-1-1 in the Ivy League and a whopping 10-1-4 overall with a 1-0 win over Yale in penalty strokes Saturday at Ellen Vagelos Field. Goalie Carly Sokach finished with 15 saves, tying a career-high, and led the way in what was the program’s first penalty stroke shootout since 2002. Penn currently sits just one game behind defending national champion Princeton, who they play, at home, in the regular-season finale on Nov. 9.

Volleyball

Volleyball

This one didn’t have the same kind of last-second heroics as some of the other games but the Friday night sweep of Princeton was just as satisfying. Alex Caldwell had 24 assists and four different Quakers had eight kills as Penn beat its rival, 25-19, 25-22, 25-20, at the Palestra on Friday night to even its Ivy League record at 4-4.

Sprint Football

Sprint football

Speaking of handily beating Princeton, Penn’s sprint football team hammered the Tigers, 72-29, under the lights of Franklin Field on Friday night, improving to 3-3 in the Collegiate Sprint Football League. The 72 points scored were the most in a single game since Penn put up 70 on Princeton in 2010. Quarterback Mike McCurdy led the way with 352 passing yards – the fourth most in Penn history – and four touchdowns.

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Can Penn’s fall-sport dominance continue?

For the Penn athletic teams, this fall’s Ivy League season has begun to mixed results. The football team shook off two straight nonleague losses to kick off its quest for a third consecutive conference title with a dramatic come-from-behind win over Dartmouth; the men’s soccer team (5-4-1 overall) dropped its league opener, at home, to Cornell; the women’s soccer team lost to Harvard but followed that up with a home triumph over Cornell to move to 1-1 in the league and an impressive 8-2 overall; and the volleyball team has started off 1-2 in the league and 5-8 overall.

For all of these teams, winning the Ivy League will be a difficult task as it always is – which is why last year’s accomplishments were so remarkable. In the fall of 2010, Penn captured league championships in football, women’s soccer, volleyball and sprint football to set a school record for the number of titles in one season. And even though the men’s soccer team failed to capture a league crown, it enjoyed a memorable run to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked to some of the school’s fall-sport coaches to get their take on what it was like to be part of such a historic accomplishment last year and what it means going into a new season. Here’s what they said:

AL BAGNOLI, football coach

We try to follow all the sports and we pull for everyone. I think it’s good. It shows the cross-section of people here that are supported and funded. And we’re always trying to catch Princeton overall. It’s healthy for the school. I think it shows all the recruits the support and the opportunities that are out there.

RUDY FULLER, men’s soccer coach

It just shows the support we get from the University and the athletic administration. I think we’ve got a great group of coaches in the department right now. And we do feed off each other. We’re competitive people but in a good-natured way. We support each other. We want to see all the programs do well. It was a lot of fun last year, and we had some success in the winter and spring, as well. It was enjoyable to be a part of.

DARREN AMBROSE, women’s soccer coach

I think it makes you really proud of Penn and the athletic department. It’s a credit to all the coaches and administrators for getting the environment right and providing the resources. We’re always pushing the envelope here. Being in that kind of environment, it breeds a positive attitude and it breeds more success. You look around Penn and the facilities just opened, and you know the expectations continue to be Ivy championships. It’s a great place athletically for coaches and student-athletes at the moment.

KERRY CARR, volleyball coach

I absolutely love it. It’s really fun. We have a really special relationship with the football team. Every time we’ve won a title, they’ve won a title. We definitely are on the same wavelength. We feed off each other, we really do. I think success in one sport helps recruiting in another. And I love it when all the other teams are on the [Daily Pennsylvanian] sports page with us and everyone is winning. It’s definitely not a competition between sports. The more, the merrier. The more Ivy League championships we have, the better for the school.

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Penn women’s soccer team ready to step inside PPL Park

Penn women’s soccer coach Darren Ambrose has fond memories of his team’s 2007 game against Loyola University of Chicago at Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.

Ambrose believes the program’s next game inside a professional stadium will be even better.

On Friday evening, Penn takes on Big 5 rival Villanova in a local women’s soccer darby at the Philadelphia Union’s home stadium, PPL Park.

“To do it in our hometown against a good team that is a big rival of ours adds a little more to the game,” Ambrose told the Gazette. “We’re excited. The kids are ready, and I’m sure the game will live up to the expectations.”

The game at PPL is part of a concerted effort to form a bridge between the city’s second-year Major League Soccer franchise and the local college programs.

The Penn men’s team was not able to schedule a game at the Union’s stadium this year but head coach Rudy Fuller believes there will be some to come in the future.

“I think it’s something both Darren and I hope to see more of,” Fuller said. “We want to strengthen our ties with the Union. It’s a huge asset for the program to have an MLS team of that caliber in our backyard. So I think there are going to be a lot of opportunities to help each other. Playing games at PPL is certainly one of them.”

Ambrose

Ambrose isn’t quite as sure how much of an impact the Union – as well as the second-year Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer League – have made on college soccer, particularly his program.

But the Penn head coach, going into his 12th year at the helm, has noticed all the good things it’s done for the all of the youth teams around the region.

“I have two daughters myself and they’ve been to a couple of Independence games and they know some of the players,” Ambrose said. “I don’t know if it translates into greater support and understanding of the college game but I do think it provides role models and opportunities for kids. They’re more excited about going to practice and copying things they see in games.”

Ambrose was quick to point out the difference between the country’s top-tier professional leagues for men’s and women’s soccer. While he’s been “thoroughly impressed” by the growth of MLS, he’s seen firsthand how difficult it is to sustain the same kind of growth for women’s leagues.

Ambrose, after all, served as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Charge of the Women’s United Soccer Association before the league suspended operations in 2003. He hopes the new league – Women’s Professional Soccer – doesn’t follow suit.

“It’s sad but I think it speaks of the culture,” Ambrose said. “I hope it makes it. I hope they find investors and continue to stabilize it for the future.”

For now, though, Ambrose is simply focused on the women’s soccer program at Penn, especially the Quakers’ upcoming game against a strong Villanova team, inside a 18,500-seat soccer-specific stadium.

The atmosphere, he’s sure, will be unparalleled.

“For everybody, I think it will be eye-opening in many ways,” Ambrose said. “I’m sure the adrenaline will be pumping and they’ll perform accordingly.”

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Senior Spotlight: Sarah Friedman

What made Sarah Friedman C’11 such a good soccer player at Penn? “I always loved it,” the Quakers’ central midfielder said. “Most people get burned out. I never lost it.” You can say “it” was her incredible ability to create goals as Friedman will graduate as Penn’s all-time leader in assists with 30. Friedman, a central midfielder who set the school’s single-season record for assists in 2008 with 15, was also a four-time All-Ivy Player and the team’s only unanimous first team selection this season after helping the Quakers capture the outright conference championship. What else is there to know about Friedman’s four-year career, both on and off the field? Here’s a little taste:

On her decision come to Penn: She was recruited by head coach Darren Ambrose since her sophomore year in high school. Being close to her home in Villanova was also a deciding factor. “I was supposed to go on other visits to other schools, but when I got here I decided I didn’t need to visit anywhere else officially.”

Time devoted to soccer over the past four years: A lot. “I missed out on getting work done sometimes. But it’d definitely been worth it.”

Favorite part of college soccer: Winning two Ivy League championships and spending time with her teammates. “Those are different kinds of relationships that you don’t have with anyone else.”

Best soccer moment: Again, it’s the two Ivy League championships that bookended his college career – the first coming first in 2007 and the second last month. “As a freshman, it was really exciting. But once you’re a senior, you understand all the rivalries in the league and how much you want to beat each team. It was special as a freshman but it took the rest of the time to figure how much it really meant to win.”

Friedman helped the Quakers capture two Ivy League titles

How her teammates would describe her: “Pretty intense – at least when I play. Off the field, I’m more laid back. But I get really into soccer. I’ve always wanted to win. I hate losing.”

Favorite Ivy League team to play: A slight lean towards Princeton, although “I like beating all of them.”

Favorite sport besides soccer: Lacrosse and basketball were the two sports she played besides soccer at Friends Central. “We did a pickup basketball game once as a workout (at Penn). It was pretty funny. I’m not as good at basketball as I am at soccer.”

Favorite class: Abnormal Psychology.

Favorite restaurant: Pod or Jimmy John’s, although she concedes the latter is not really a restaurant. Still, “I order there way too much. It’s embarrassing.”

Thoughts on graduation: “I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to leave college. I don’t want to grow up.”

Future plans: Unclear but possibly grad school. “I used to want to go play (soccer) in Europe, but I kind of changed my mind about that. I think I should be a real person.”

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