PHILADELPHIA - After a win in frigid temperatures Wednesday over Rutgers, No. 15 Penn begins its quest for an eighth straight Ivy League title by hosting Harvard at Franklin Field on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Quakers enter Ancient Eight competition with a 2-1 overall record while the Crimson enters at 2-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play after an Ivy-opening 10-7 win over Cornell.
After a perfect 7-0 finish in conference play last season, the Quakers enter Saturday's contest riding a nine-game winning streak in regular season conference play, dating back to April 21, 2012. Since the Quakers have taken over control of the Ancient Eight in 2007, Penn is 47-2 in Ivy games.
With seven consecutive Ivy titles to their credit, Penn is tied with its visitors for the longest stretch of consecutive Ivy championships. The Crimson won seven in a row from 1987-93.
Penn easily disposed of Harvard, 14-5, in Cambridge last season. The Quakers came out firing, dominating the first half en route to a 9-0 lead at the break. Five different players scored multiple goals for the Red and Blue in last year's meeting, led by Iris Williamson's four.
Overall, the Red and Blue hold a 23-17 advantage in the 40 meetings between the two storied programs. The Quakers have owned the series as of late, winning 14 straight against the Crimson and losing just once to their Massachusetts foes in the Karin Corbett Era.
Penn’s stout defense is climbing up the national leaderboard, ranking sixth in the country in average turnovers caused with 12.67 and 24th with an 8.00 goals-against-average.
Senior Lindsey Smith, held out of the goal column through the first two games, had her biggest game of the season on Wednesday against the Scarlet Knights. She scored two goals – both in the second half with the game in the balance – on three shots while also tallying a draw control and causing three turnovers. The three caused turnovers match her total from all of last season.
Tory Bensen, the team’s leading scorer, is just one goal away from 50 for her career and double-digits on the season. The captain has scored in each of Penn’s first three games and is averaging 3.00 goals-per-contest for the year, good for third in the Ivy League.
Allie Martin's career-high four caused turnovers against Rutgers skyrocketed her up the NCAA leaderboard, jumping from 82nd to 24th.
The Quakers will look for an offensive outburst this weekend, as they are the only team in the Ancient Eight not averaging at least 10 goals-per-game.
The Crimson are one of the youngest teams in the country, with 18 of their 23 players in just their freshman or sophomore seasons.
Naturally, a freshman, Marisa Romeo, has done much of the heavy lifting early for the Crimson, leading the team in goals with nine and points with 12. The Syracuse, N.Y. native already has a six-point game under her belt, dissecting the St. Mary's defense on her way to a four goal, two assist night.
Fellow rookie Megan Hennessey has also been instrumental to Harvard's attack, trailing Romeo by two points for the team lead and leading the program in assists.
In net for the Crimson is sophomore Kelly Weis. The honorable mention All-Ivy selection in 2012 sat out the entirety of the 2013 campaign. Before taking the year off, Weis finished 2012 fourth in the NCAA in goals-against average at 7.63. She was also 14th in save percentage (.474) which was second in the Ivy League. This season, Weis is 2-1 with a 9.35 GAA and .472 save percentage.
After starting 2014 with a 14-10 loss at Stanford, the Crimson has rebounded with an 18-7 win at Saint Mary’s (CA) and the 10-7 win over Cornell. Against the Big Red, Harvard trailed, 6-4, late in the first half, but dominated down the stretch to garner its first Ivy win of 2014.