PHILADELPHIA - There were two storylines taking up the majority of the pre-game buildup for No. 14 Penn's showdown with No. 13 Brown at Rhodes Field. First, there was the battle between two senior goalkeepers who had made a habit of posting shutouts in 2010. The second storyline featured a Penn freshman forward who was blistering hot to start the season and had encountered a bit of a cold spell in the month of October.
The crucial Ivy match lived up to its pedigree, with the two defenses keeping chances at a minimum and the young striker the only man to break through for a goal.
Stephen Baker scored his eighth of the season in the 22nd minute, providing Penn with all the offense it would need in a 1-0 win over Brown in University City. His goal was enough to provide Penn with the win thanks to Ben Berg's five saves in goal en route to his eighth shutout of the season.
Baker's goal finished off a slick play worked by Penn down the left sideline. Aaron Ross took the ball just over the midfield stripe and sent a pass to Loukas Tasigianis about 10 yards ahead. Tasigianis one-touched the ball to Baker who was cutting right to left across the middle of the field. Upon receiving the pass, Baker dribbled around Brown's senior keeper Paul Grandstrand and sent the ball in the open goal. The goal was just the seventh allowed all season by Grandstrand - the reigning first-team All-Ivy keeper and a former Ivy Rookie of the Year.
Baker's goal had to stand up for Penn - it was the Quakers' only shot on goal all match. It wasn't fro a lack off offensive effort as the Red and Blue actually carried the play for most of the second half while looking to add to the lead, but the Brown defense kept Penn from truly dangerous offerings.
Penn's back four, on the other hand, were busy dealing with 12 Bears' shots - five of which reached goal. Jake Levin, Thomas Brandt, Steven Schlaefer and Zach Barnett were called upon to head away numerous crosses and throws, from a Brown team hungry for the equalizer. Berg made three of his saves in the second half and came up with two huge punches of crosses from sharp angles.
Berg now is tied for the fourth-most shutouts in one season with his eight clean sheets in 2010. He joins current pro Danny Cepero with the eight blankings.
The Quakers, 12-3-0 overall in 2010 are a perfect 5-0-0 in Ivy play. They are stilled tied with Princeton atop the Ancient Eight standings as the Tigers defeated Cornell, 1-0, in Ithaca Saturday night. Penn and Princeton meet next Saturday night in New Jersey with a shot at clinching a share of the Ivy title on the line.