PHILADELPHIA – Step one of three was completed over the weekend for No. 15 Penn in its search for an eighth consecutive Ivy League championship as the Quakers doubled up Brown, 12-6. On Wednesday, the Red and Blue (8-4, 4-1 Ivy) look for the second of three wins needed to earn a share of the Ivy crown when they host Columbia (3-9, 0-6 Ivy) at 4 p.m. at Dunning-Cohen Champions Field at Penn Park.
The Quakers are 17-0 all-time against Columbia, and are 8-0 in games played in Philly.
Last season, Penn tamed the Lions, 13-8, in New York City. Penn was paced by Shannon Mangini and Caroline Bunting who each had a hat trick in the game. Overall, seven players scored for the Quakers with Tory Bensen and Courtney Tomchik each adding two goals. Lucy Ferguson made 10 saves in the win.
The Quakers enter the game with the nation’s 11th-ranked team defense, allowing an average of 8.00 goals-per-game through 12 contests. In Ivy League games, Penn is allowing 6.8 goals-per-game, which is best in League play by an Ivy team. The Red and Blue also lead the League in caused turnovers, ranking No. 20 in that category nationally, with 9.58 per game. Meg Markham has contributed greatly to that number, leading the Ancient Eight and ranking second among all Division I players with 2.83 caused turnovers-per-game. Fellow defender Allie Martin is third in the Ivies and 17th overall national in caused turnovers-per-game at 1.83.
If Markham, Martin, et al. do not cause a turnover, Lucy Ferguson has been there to back them up with a save. She leads the Ivy League in save percentage (.482) and goals-against average (7.87) – both numbers currently below her marks last year when she was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection.
On offense, Penn has had four players already set career highs in goals scored this season, led by Lely DeSimone who has scored 19 in 2014 after going without a goal in 2013. Nina Corcoran, Lindsey Smith and Catherine Dickinson have also surpassed their previous bests for goals in a season with two games to go in the regular season. Tory Bensen, the team leader in goals with 22, is one away from tying her best single-season output.
Senior Paige Cuscovitch leads Columbia with 26 goals and 30 points this season. The second-team All-Ivy selection in 2013 now has 105 career goals in 56 games. Freshman Taylor Quinn has added secondary scoring for the Lions with 21 goals to rank second on the team. Jessie Ambrose (15), Ashley Rinere (14) and Kate Murphy (10) round out the Lions in double figures in goals.
Quinn has been all over the field for the Lions, adding a team-best 44 draw controls and a League-best 44 ground balls.