Penn clinched a share of its fifth consecutive Ivy League Championship last Saturday with a dominating 12-5 victory over Brown. The Quakers got five goals from Tewaaraton nominee Erin Brennan and a pair of goals from Bridget Waclawik and Meredth Cain to improve to 10-4 on the season and finish with a 6-1 record in the Ivy League.
Fourth-ranked Duke comes into Friday's contest following a 17-8 loss to North Carolina in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. The No. 4 Blue Devils, who beat the Tar Heels 11-10 in their first meeting, opened with an early 2-0 lead. However, North Carolina countered with an 8-1 run to take back the lead for good and put the game out of reach. The loss snapped a four-game win streak in which the team had risen to third in the polls.
Duke is 13-3 this season and has been led by senior Christie Kaestner and juniors Emma Hamm and Kat Thomas. Kaestner leads the team with 67 points and 37 assists while Hamm is right behind her with 62 points on 41 goals and 21 assists. Hamm also leads the team with 58 draw controls. Thomas ranks second on the team in both goals (38) and draw controls (52). In goal for the Blue Devils is Mollie Mackler. The junior has started all 16 games this season and owns a 10.18 goals against average with a .452 save percentage, as well as a 13-3 overall record.
Penn's game against Duke marks its fourth game against a team ranked in the top five this season. The Red and Blue already played Maryland, Northwestern and North Carolina when they were ranked first, second and third in the nation. Overall the teams have six common opponents as the Blue Devils split with North Carolina, beat Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown and North Carolina, and lost to Maryland, Northwestern. The Quakers beat the Tar Heels earlier this season, as well as Dartmouth and Brown, but lost to Princeton, Maryland and Northwestern. These two teams last met in the 2009 NCAA Quarterfinals, with the Red and Blue coming away with the 10-9 victory in overtime to advance to a third-consecutive NCAA Final Four.
To get a win over Duke this year, Penn will need goaltender Emily Leitner to step up the way she has all season. The junior ranks sixth in the nation with a 7.95 goals against average and also owns a .453 save percentage. Brennan leads the offense with 41 points, 31 goals and ten assists, and is one of seven players with at least 12 scores this season. Defensively, sophomore Caroline Bunting leads the team with 18 caused turnovers and also has 17 draw controls and 14 ground balls. Senior Giulia Giordano and Lindsey Smith both have 24 ground balls to lead the team, and Giordano also has 14 draw controls and 15 caused turnovers.