Ivy League Tournament Central (Live Stats, Live Video)
Friday, May 3
Semifinal Number One: #2 Princeton vs. #3 Dartmouth, 4 p.m.
Semifinal Number Two: #1 Penn vs. #4 Cornell, 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 5
Championship Game: Semifinal Winners, 12 p.m.
PHILADELPHIA – It is back to familiar ground for No. 16 Penn this weekend as the fourth Ivy League Tournament stays in the only home it has even known – Philadelphia. A run of perfection through the Ivy League’s regular season rendered the Quakers again Ivy champions – the seventh in a row for Karin Corbett’s squad – and secured home field in the Ancient Eight’s postseason tournament to decide the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Quakers are one of two teams to qualify for all four Ivy League Tournaments, Dartmouth being the other. Penn and Dartmouth are tied for the most games played in Ivy League Tournament action, each having played five games. Similarly, Penn and Dartmouth are the only schools to reach two championship games in the ILT, splitting a pair of meetings between the two programs; Penn winning in 2010 and the Big Green in 2012.
On Friday, Penn will take on a new opponent in the Ivy League Tournament – Cornell. The Big Red returns to the Tournament for the second year in a row and for the fourth time overall. Cornell has yet to win an Ivy League Tournament game.
Earlier this season, Penn and Cornell met at Franklin Field. The Big Red entered the game ranked No. 10 in the country, while the Quakers were sitting at .500 and looking to continue what was a three-game winning streak. What followed was another in a long line of frenetic games for the Quakers this season.
After jumping out to leads of 8-1 and 10-3 in the first half, Penn watched as Cornell climbed back into the game in the second period. The Big Red went on a 7-0 run over 24:26 to tie the game at 11-11 and force overtime. In extra time, Shannon Mangini scored the first of three overtime goals this season with 10 seconds left in the first period of OT to eventually secure the win for the Quakers.
That overtime win was one of four during the course of the season for Penn – and part of a 3-0 record in Ivy League overtime games. Both of those numbers are school record and have the Red and Blue battle tested for the trials and tribulations of tournament time.
Mangini has often been the clutch performer for Penn down the stretch in games this season. Twice in Ivy games, she has scored the game-tying goal with under six minutes to play and she has gone on to score three goals in overtime during the regular season. On Wednesday, she was named Ivy League Midfielder of the Year to lead six Penn players on the All-Ivy teams.
Mangini is one of four Penn scorers above the 20-goal plateau this season with her career-high 22 goals. 18 of those 22 have come in Ivy games, most by any Penn player.
Meredith Cain leads the Red and Blue in scoring with 35 points. She has netted 24 goals, tied with Iris Williamson for the team lead. Williamson scored 21 of her goals before the end of March, connecting for four goals four different times before dealing with injuries and missing the final two games of the season. She is probable for this weekend’s games and would add another variable to Penn’s attack.
Defensively, Penn boasts the top group in the Ivy League, allowing the fewest goals of any team in the Ancient Eight over the regular season (130) and the second-best team GAA at 9.03.
Unanimous first-team All-Ivy performers Lucy Ferguson and Meg Markham have been the focal point of the defensive unit. Ferguson 7.53 GAA during Ivy League games is tops among League goalkeepers and she went 3-0 in Ivy League overtime games (4-0 overall). In front of the crease, Markham leads all defenders with 11 caused turnovers and has the team lead in ground balls with 26.
Cornell will bring one of the League’s most dangerous weapons to test Penn’s top-ranked defense in Lyndsey Toppe. She ranks second overall in the Ancient Eight in points with 58, including 47 goals. Nine times this season, Toppe has scored four or more goals in a single game. In the game at Franklin Field, she scored four, including three in the second half run to tie the game. If Toppe is the sharpshooter for the Big Red, Emily Tripodi is the facilitator. She leads the Ivy League and is 17th in the NCAA in helpers with 36.
Defensively, Kate Ivory ranks sixth in the country in caused turnovers with 2.13 per game. She was named Ivy League Defender of the Year, adding 47 ground balls and 15 draw controls. Claire McManus has 12 caused turnovers and 27 ground balls. The goalkeeper situation has been up in the air for the Big Red, but Carly Gniewak has played the majority of Ivy games and has posted a 9.23 GAA with a 3-2 record.