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PHILADELPHIA – It doesn’t get much bigger than Wednesday’s meeting between Penn and Princeton in women’s lacrosse, two teams tied atop the Ivy League standings at 5-0 meeting to determine an Ivy champion and the likely top seed at the looming Ivy League Tournament.
Penn has played no team more than its archrival, entering Wednesday with an 18-20-3 record in 41 games against the Tigers. The Quakers have won six of the last eight meetings, the two losses coming in 2011 at Franklin Field.
Unlike last season where five teams entered the final 10 days of Ivy League play with a chance at an Ancient Eight crown and hosting privileges for the Ivy League Tournament, this year there are only two true candidates. After Penn knocked Dartmouth from the logjam atop the Ivy table, Penn and Princeton enter as the lone unbeaten teams in conference play and controls their own fates for the first weekend in May.
For Penn, a win means a seventh consecutive Ivy League championship – and would tie the Quakers for the most consecutive Ivy women’s lacrosse championships with Harvard which won seven from 1987-93. Overall, Penn’s current run of six League championships is the longest active streak among all women’s lacrosse teams. In terms of Ivy League history, Penn’s six consecutive Ancient Eight championships ties for the eighth-longest run of conference titles in all Ivy League women’s sports. A win on Wednesday will tie Penn for fifth with three other programs.
10 – Princeton Field Hockey (1994-2003)
9 – Brown Soccer (1982-1990)
8 – Princeton Field Hockey (2005-12)*
8 – Harvard Tennis (1983-89)
7 – Cornell Outdoor Track and Field (2002-08)
7 – Princeton Softball (1983-89)
7 – Harvard Women’s Lacrosse (1987-93)
6 – Penn Women’s Lacrosse (2007-12)*
6 – Penn Fencing (1982-83 to 1987-88)
*indicates active streak
On the University front, women’s lacrosse is tied for fourth among all programs in terms of consecutive Ivy titles. A win on Wednesday will tie Penn with men’s outdoor track and field (1971-71) and wrestling (1995-96 to 2001-02) for second behind fencing’s eight from 1975-76 to 1982-83.
To continue climbing these lists, Penn will have to contend with a Princeton club which has been shut out of the Ivy title since 2006. The Tigers have already clinched a spot in the Ivy League Tournament, returning after missing out last May.
Princeton is 8-4 overall, just 2-4 away from its home turf. After a 3-3 start to the season, the Tigers have won five of their last six games, the only loss coming to No. 1 Maryland. The same can be said for Penn which has won seven of its last eight – the only loss at the Terrapins.
The Quakers have played five one-goal games this season, winning four of them. Princeton has yet to play in a one-goal game, but is 2-2 in games decided by a pair of goals. The two teams share six common opponents this season, and each has a 4-2 record in those games. The only losses have come to Maryland and Rutgers while both teams have wins over Ivy foes Cornell, Columbia, Harvard and Yale.
The Quakers enter the week with the conference’s best defense, allowing just 99 goals over 11 games, Meg Markham has come on as the leader of that unit, earning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors after holding Dartmouth’s Hana Bowers without a goal for the first time all season last Friday. Markham has 10 caused turnovers this season to go with 18 ground balls and 23 draw controls. When teams solve Penn’s defense, Lucy Ferguson has been there to make the save when called upon. She is second in the Ivy League in goals-against average (8.82) and tops in save percentage at .470.
The Quakers have five players in double figures in goals scored, led by Iris Williamson’s 24 goals. Caroline Bunting, who was named Co-Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, has scored six of her 13 goals this season over the last two games.
Princeton will look to break Penn’s staunch defense with the Ivy League’s second-leading scorer, Erin McMunn. The reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year has 30 goals and 22 assists this season for 52 points, leading the Ivy League in helpers. Freshman Alexandra Bruno is second on the Tigers with 21 goals. On the defensive side, Princeton has caused 101 turnovers this season, led by Caroline Rehfuss and Liz Bannatine who each have 15. Caroline Franke has made 74 saves this season, registering a .460 save percentage and a 9.90 GAA.
On the draw, Penn is averaging 10.5 per game to 12.0 for the Tigers. Maddie Poplwaski leads the Quakers with 30 on the season, and she enters the game with 162 over the course of her career – one away from tying the Ivy League record. She had seven her last time out against the Big Green. Expect Poplawski to be matched up with Sarah Lloyd, who has 34 draw wins this season for the Tigers.