Lafayette's Statham, a former Penn assistant, is back to face Quakers
Coach Mick Statham will pace the Rhodes Field sidelines once again this evening.
But this time the former Penn women's soccer assistant will be leading Lafayette against the Quakers.
Statham assisted head coach Darren Ambrose at Penn in 2004, helping the team to a 9-6-2 record. The Manchester, England, native changed allegiances a year later, helping Florida State (currently ranked No. 4 in the nation) to the College Cup and collecting Regional Assistant Coach of the Year honors.
"I have a ton of respect for him," fellow Englishman Ambrose said of Statham. "He was very good when he was here - one of the best I've worked with. He will have his kids ready to play. I think they are better than they were last year."
Better is an understatement: Statham has already led his team to more wins (three) than it had all last season (two). Penn faithful, however, would like to erase any memory of Lafayette's latter victory in 2005, when the Leopards doubled their goal and win totals in the same evening with a 5-4 win over the Quakers.
"Last year, it was a humbling game," Ambrose remembers. "They did to us last year what Temple did [this year]. Our kids were embarrassed a little bit to dominate a game like that and lose."
Ambrose was referencing a contest earlier this season, when Penn outshot Temple 21-3 yet lost in a shocking 2-0 decision. After dropping its Ivy opener 2-1 to Harvard, despite dominating most of the game, Penn got back on track with a 1-0 win at Cornell on Saturday.
"We didn't change anything," said Ambrose of snapping the two-game hiccup. "You can't continue to outshoot teams and not win. Over time things are going to fall for you. We scored a goal. That's the difference."
That score came thanks to a tandem of freshman - Jessica Fuccello with the assist, and Jess Rothenheber with the goal. Fellow rookie Sara Rose made her debut in goal, securing the win with four saves. With Cailly Carroll still out with a sinus infection, Rose will start again against Lafayette.
In addition to the keeper, Penn's coach went on to compliment his young team's play.
"The chemistry between them is starting to come," Ambrose said. Ashley Hull is injured and did not play last game, so we had 90 percent of the game with freshmen and sophomores on the field. They are starting to figure out each other's strengths and what they can do."
Ambrose added that the team knows what it has to do to get revenge tonight.
"We have to be disciplined in how we play. At times this year, we've gotten away from things that we are good at. We just need to be disciplined enough, as opposed to getting drawn into what our opposition is doing. Also, being confident in our ability - imposing ourselves on them - is really crucial."
Despite dropping the last meeting, Penn leads the all-time series, 5-3. Kickoff under the Tuesday-night lights is slated for 7:30 p.m.