Last night's rain-shortened game a coming-out party for Penn offense as Colonials sent packing
It was not soccer. Coach Darren Ambrose called it "survival." Fans said that it was more like watching water polo with feet.
No matter how you look at it, it was one wild night for the Penn women's soccer team.
Despite playing through a mini-monsoon, the drenched Quakers were all smiles after dominating Robert Morris, 6-0, last night at Rhodes Field.
To say conditions were horrible would be an understatement. Referees ended the contest after 71 minutes, once the game could be ruled official.
Nevertheless, Tracy Bienenfeld jogged off the pitch beaming - and looking - like a child who had just gone mudsliding.
"It was a lot of fun in the beginning," the Penn senior said, after posting three assists. "The ball wouldn't [move] unless you lifted it. Then, at the end of the game, you couldn't even lift it because the water was up to your ankles."
Even before weather became the story, the teams' first meeting had an odd beginning. After Robert Morris showed up fashionably late, athletic officials apologized for no national anthem due to technical problems with the PA system.
But once the opening whistle blew 20 minutes late, Penn stole the show.
"I am very pleased, not just with the win, but that we got the game under control in the first 15 minutes," Ambrose said. "We started out dangerous, aggressive and hungry. We came out on fire."
A Penn header off the crossbar in the game's second minute was a short-lived disappointment. In the fifth minute, freshman Mara Fintzi dribbled through the Colonials defense and shot for her first collegiate goal. Just 10 minutes later, Fintzi struck again off a Rachel Fletcher pass. The junior extended the lead to three later in the half with a header into an undefended net.
Said Ambrose of the duo: "Fintzi was superb in the first half, and Fletcher responded well after struggling the past two or three games."
Fletcher ended the game with two goals on four shots.
The second half saw another trio of Quakers goals. Penn's leading point-scorer, freshman Jessica Fuccello, added two goals on five shots, while sophomore Natalie Capuano headed in another.
"We figured out where the best conditions were on the field," Bienenfeld said. "We played in the corners. We played in the air … [and] that was the best way to do it. We played smart.
"This was a good confidence booster. Now we know we can score no matter how we do it."
Coming down the stretch, the Quakers will face their biggest challenge: three Ivy League matches on the road, including 3-0 Dartmouth, the current league leaders, on Sunday. Despite his team's youth and inexperience, Ambrose remains confident.
"There won't be a team that we can't beat," he said.