In its first Ivy League contest of the season, the men’s soccer team came out and stunned No. 18 Penn, 2-1 this past Saturday night. The Red got its two scores from seniors Pape Seye and Kuda Wekwete, and behind a stellar defensive performance, the team was able to leave Pennsylvania with a win.
“The win feels good,” said junior captain Brian Scruton. “It feels really good. It was an evenly matched game, and both [teams] played really well, but we were relentless on defense and kept going. Our team just didn’t want to leave the field after playing well again without a win. It’s a huge confidence boost for the next set of games.”
The team began the day on the offensive and took the lead in the 38th minute on Seye’s second goal of the season. However, the lead would not last long. A little over two minutes later, Penn senior defender Erik Violante converted on a penalty kick – awarded to the Quakers after sophomore midfielder Derek Hobson was dragged down inside the box – that knotted the game at one goal apiece.
But as quickly as it lost the lead, the Red regained it. The men came charging out of the gates to open the second half, and 44 seconds of energy and intensity paid off, as Wekwete shot a bullet from 20 yards out to take a 2-1 lead. The goal was the senior’s third of the season.
“Both were great goals that came at really important times at the game,” Scruton said. “Both guys did a great job of taking the scoring opportunity and finishing it, something we have had trouble doing in the past.”
For the rest of the game, the Red defense played tough and kept the Quakers attack at bay. Freshman goalie Steve Lesser continued to impress opponents, as he tallied five saves on the night and helped secure the win for his team – despite being out-shot 7-3 in the second half, and 15-7 for the game. Specifically, the Red got solid play from its back four, which stepped up and preserved the one goal lead for the entire second half of play.
“When we got that early lead, it was really important for us to step up on defense and hold that lead,” Scruton said. “I thought the upperclassmen, and the back four specifically, stepped up this game and showed a lot of leadership out there holding the lead.”
The Red, now 2-4-2 overall and 1-0-0 in the Ivy League, surprised a lot of people with its play against Penn. The Quakers came into Saturday ranked 18th overall. On top of that, the team was touted as one of, if not the strongest team in the conference at the start of the 2005 season. The Quakers have done a good job defending that honor, as they entered the match winning three of their lost four matches, posting shutouts in all three of the victories. This stretch vaulted the team into having the second best defense of any team in the Ivy’s. Combining that with having the top offense in the league – averaging a little over two goals scored per game this year – beating the Quakers was a huge step for a Red team which, in the recent past, has struggled to pick up wins in hard fought games.
“The team played great,” Scruton said. “All season we’ve been underachieving. We’ve seen our potential and we’ve just been hovering around the level of play we know we can play at, so to finally play as well as we know we can feels great. Now we just have to keep it up because nobody is going to be scared of us just because we won this weekend.”
Archived article by Ben Kopelman
Sun Staff Writer