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Bears confront Penn, abysmal weather in frozen deadlock

The women's soccer team battled through sleet and snow Saturday to earn a hard-fought 0-0 double-overtime draw against Ivy foe Penn. The Bears (10-4-2, 3-2-1 Ivy) held the Quakers (13-2-1, 4-1-1) scoreless in slippery conditions, marking only the second time this season that Penn has failed to find the back of the net. The freezing rain and gusty wind was not enough to keep the game from proceeding, and both sides were forced to battle with the weather from the outset.

"We were ready to play," said Head Coach Phil Pincince. "We had trained in all of that mud on our practice field the prior two days to the game," he added, "So I thought we were well-prepared to play in those elements."

"When it started snowing in the second half, it was certainly something a lot of players have never experienced before," said captain Sarah Hebert-Seropian '12. "But I think the team displayed great character. I didn't hear anyone complain, despite that some players couldn't feel their feet, couldn't feel their hands. I didn't hear a single person complain about whether or not the game should have been canceled."

Both teams got off to attacking starts, using the icy field to send skidding shots toward goal. Bruno's first chance came in the 16th minute when Chloe Cross '15 sent a curling corner kick into the box. The Quakers' clearance bounced out to Marybeth Lesbirel '12, who fired a shot on frame through traffic, forcing a save from the Penn keeper.

Bruno's defense remained tight in the first half, allowing seven shots. Bears goalie MC Barrett '14 was forced to make three saves of her own in the half, and the teams remained tied going into halftime.

"We were very strong in the back," Hebert-Seropian said. "I think everyone was aware the ball would be sticking, but we managed that really well, and I think we didn't give them many chances in the end."

The wintry mix gradually turned into snow at the start of the second half, adding a layer of slush to the already wet turf. The Bears were also now attacking into the wind, making it more difficult to play longer balls up field.

The Quakers used the wind to their advantage, keeping the ball in Bruno's third of the field for most of the half. The Quakers recorded 11 shots to the Bears' one, but still could not break the deadlock. In a close call, Gloria Chun '12 cleared the ball heroically off the goal line in the final five seconds of play to send the game into overtime.

The Bears held the shot advantage in both periods of extra time, but the freezing conditions kept either side from creating a clear-cut scoring chance, and the game ended in a 0-0 tie.

But Mother Nature could not entirely put a damper on the afternoon, which was Senior Day for the 2011 season. Six graduating seniors were honored at the start of the game, and all got the start in their last game at Stevenson Field in a Brown uniform.

"In their four years, they're the group that have sort of put us back to where we want to be with Brown women's soccer," Pincince said.

"This group has had three out of four winning seasons in this program," he added. "They've had a very successful run, and they will be sadly missed."

"I speak for all of us when I say we've all had a great experience here at Brown," Hebert-Seropian said. "The team is just awesome, and I think we're all very thankful."

The Bears will play their last match of the season Saturday against Yale (8-5-3, 3-2-1) in New Haven. The draw with Penn dashed Bruno's hopes of claiming the Ivy League title, as league-leader Harvard (11-4-1, 5-0-1) won this weekend, assuring itself a share of the title and an automatic berth in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

"I think we've had a very successful season, and to end with a win would reflect that," Hebert-Seropian said. "We want to give it a last, hard-fought effort and end the season well."

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