PHILADELPHIA - Coming off a last-gasp, 1-0 win over defending Ivy League champion Harvard a week ago, the University of Pennsylvania women's soccer team hits its first Ivy League road challenge this Friday with a trip to Cornell. The Quakers and winless Big Red will meet at 7 p.m. Penn is back home on Sunday, hosting NJIT in a non-conference game at 1 p.m.
The Series with Cornell: The Big Red defeated the Quakers the first six times these teams met, from 1991-96; since then, Penn is 14-0-1 in the series, including a 13-match win streak heading into Friday. Last year, the Quakers won 2-1 in Philadelphia; the last time these teams met in Ithaca, in 2010, Penn won 3-0.
About Cornell: The Big Red (0-9-0) is seeking its first victory of the season after suffering a pair of one-goal losses last weekend. In its Ivy League opener Friday at Columbia, the Big Red couldn't overcome a one-goal deficit created by a Lions goal in the eighth minute. Against Niagara last Sunday, Cornell got a goal from junior Alysse Godino to tie the game in the latter portion of the second half, but the Purple Eagles were able to produce the winning goal with 4.3 remaining in regulation time. Senior forward Xandra Hompe leads the team in scoring with two goals and an assist, while Jayann Gabrio has two goals on free kicks and senior forward Maneesha Chitanvis has a goal and an assist. Junior Tori Christ has started all nine games in goal so far for the Big Red.
The Series with NJIT: The Quakers and the Highlanders met for the first time last year, with Penn rolling to an 8-0 win here at Rhodes Field.
About NJIT: The Highlanders (2-7-3) have been off for a week after tying Lafayette last Sunday, 1-1. Gechi Ukaegbu and Erin Williams-Weir lead NJIT in scoring, with three goals apiece, while Megan Dellavalle has scored twice this season. Samantha Bersett has seen a majority of the action in goal; she has a 1.62 goals-against average and a .770 save percentage.
*With its win over Harvard last weekend, Penn has completed an entire cycle of the Ivy League with an unbeaten mark (6-0-1). The last time that happened? The 2001-02 teams combined for a 6-0-2 run in conference play.
*Penn is 18-6-1 overall since the start of last season, and 22-7-3 over its last 32 matches dating back to the 2010 season. In those 30 matches, Penn has allowed just 17 goals.
*Sophomore Kaitlyn Moore had Penn's goal against Harvard with 3.9 seconds left in regulation. She became the eighth different player to score for Penn this season; coincidentally, the Quakers have scored eight goals in 2012.
*Junior Brianna Rano had the assist on Moore's goal, giving her four points on the season which leads the team. Four other players have three points -- juniors Kathryn Barth, Laura Oliver and Kerry Scalora, and freshman Elissa Berdini.
*Senior Sarah Banks has started all eight games in goal for Penn, combining for 22 saves while allowing eight goals. She has been bolstered by a veteran defense in front of her that includes Rano and seniors Erin Thayer and Alex Dayneka alongside freshman Jazmyne Simmons.
*Sophomore Katherine Myhre saw her first game action of 2012, replacing Banks after the senior was injured on the play where Boise State scored in the Broncos' 1-0 win last Sunday at Rhodes Field. In 36 minutes of action, she was not called upon to make a save.
*Seven starters and 14 letterwinners overall return this year from last year's historic squad, which went 14-2-1 overall including a 5-1-1 mark in the Ivy League (good for second place behind Harvard). Penn is 12-2-3 in its last 17 Ivy League matches going back to 2009.
*Penn's overtime win at Sacramento State on Sept. 16 was its first in extra time since Oct. 30, 2010 -- coincidentally, also a 3-2 decision, this time over Brown. All-time, Penn is 9-9-35 in overtime matches.
*Freshman Erin Mikolai scored the winner over the Hornets, her first collegiate goal. As a result, she was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week, the first Ivy honor this year for a Penn women's soccer player.
*Berdini scored Penn's first goal against Sac State and assisted Mikolai's winner. They were her first collegiate points.
*Barth had Penn's second goal in Sacramento, it was her first this season. She is Penn's leading returning scorer from a year ago.
*Oliver's goal opened the scoring in the season opener against James Madison -- it came on her first touch of the game, and tied the game just 27 seconds after JMU had taken a 1-0 lead -- while Scalora's goal was the winner against the Dukes.
*Rano had Penn's first goal on Sept. 2 against Temple, while classmate Claire Walker netted the insurance goal late in the match. Rano's goal was the second of her career, while Walker's was her first as a collegian.
*Penn's captains for 2012 are senior midfielder Erin Beck -- a second-year captain -- along with Dayneka and Walker.
*Penn returns three All-Ivy players from a year ago, two first-teamers in Beck and senior goalkeeper Banks. Junior forward Kathryn Barth was a second-team selection in 2011.
*In addition, Penn figures to be bolstered by the return of Scalora. The 2010 Ivy League and ECAC Rookie of the Year and second-team All-Ivy was injured in the Quakers' sixth game a year ago and missed the remainder of the season.
*Penn returns three of its top four scorers from a year ago in Barth (8g, 8a), sophomore Megan York (5g, 1a) and sophomore Callan Parra (4g, 2a). Yet another sophomore, Clara Midgley, scored four goals.
*Banks started 16 of Penn's 17 matches last year, allowing just five goals for a 0.42 goals-against average that was among the national leaders.
Last year's team put up some staggering numbers including...
*The best record in program history by percentage (14-2-1, .853).
*The 14 wins tied for most in program history (also 1997) and the two losses tied for fewest in program history (also 2001).
*An eight-match win streak, longest in program history (previous record six).
*The team allowed just seven goals all season, a program record (previous mark 13), and scored 39 goals which was tied for second-most in program history (also 2001).
*Penn posted 13 shutouts in 17 matches, setting a program record and leading the nation at the NCAA Division I level in shutout percentage (.765).
*Penn finished last year third nationally in goals-against average (0.41), sixth in win percentage (.853), and seventh in save percentage (.887).