PHILADELPHIA – At the risk of being repetitive, Saturday is a big match for Penn as it heads down the true home stretch of the Ivy League season. For a Penn team which sat mired in a six-match losing skid in September, the chance to play meaningful matches in November is well-earned and a stark contrast from one year ago.
The Quakers (6-7-1, 3-0-1 Ivy) will head to Brown (4-6-3, 1-1-2 Ivy) on Saturday, talking on a Bears team which is fighting to keep its Ivy title hopes alive.
Penn is in the driver’s seat of the race to an Ivy title, sitting alone atop the Ancient Eight for the first time since October of 2006 with 10 points. The Red and Blue are the lone remaining unbeaten team in Ivy League play, but sit just one point ahead of second-place Harvard. The Ivy League table has all but flipped from the end of the 2012 season. Last year, Harvard managed just one point en route to a last place finish, with Penn just ahead with one Ivy win. Cornell was the League champion, with Dartmouth in second. Today, the Big Green is at the bottom without an Ivy point, Cornell just one point ahead.
The Red and Blue have not dropped an Ivy League match since Nov. 3, 2012 – making it a full 365 days without a League loss when the Quakers and Bears kick off on Saturday. Over that span, the Quakers are 4-0-1 including a win over Harvard to cap the 2012 campaign.
Penn has been successful at home this season to the tune of a 6-4-0 record in Philadelphia. That impressive home record leaves the Red and Blue in search of their first win away from Philadelphia this season. In fact, Penn is without a true road win since the 2011 season finale at Harvard.
The Quakers are 3-2-0 in their last five meetings with Brown, but are looking to end a two-match losing skid. The last four matches have been 1-0 affairs, all in regulation. Overall, Penn is 23-30-7 against Brown.
Penn enters the weekend as the highest-scoring team in the Ivy League both in terms of overall goals (24) and Ivy goals (seven.) Individually, Duke Lacroix is tied for first in scoring in the Ivy League with six goals and three assists for 15 points. His six goals are second in the Ivy League. The Red and Blue have four of the top-13 goal scorers in the Ivy League, with Sam Hayward (four), Alec Neumann (four) and Stephen Baker (three) all among the leaders. Alex Reddy and Neumann are part of a group tied for fourth in the Ivies in assists, each with four.
A player to keep an eye on for Penn is midfielder Forrest Clancy. One of the first off the bench usually, Clancy has returned from an injury which derailed his 2012 season and has slowly started to find his footing. Over his last four matches, he has taken nine shots and landed four on goal. Dangerous on restarts, he is getting closer to netting his first collegiate goal.
Tariq Akeel leads Brown in goals with four goals and an assist for nine points after tallying just one point in 2012. The Bears have scored 18 goals this season, but just four in four Ivy matches. Eight different players have scored for the Bears, with Jack Gorab and Jose Salama each adding three. Salama has added four assists to lead Brown in overall scoring with 10 points. Daniel Taylor’s five assists lead the club in that category.
Josh Weiner has started 13 matches for the Bears in goal, allowing 15 goals (1.12 GAA) and making 67 saves (.817 save percentage) to this point. He has three shutouts, and a 5-5-3 record.
Brown enters the weekend with wins in its last two matches, a 1-0 win at Cornell and a 2-1 win over Boston College on Tuesday. The two wins come after a four-match run without a victory – a streak which included a pair of double-overtime ties against Ivy opponents. At home this season, Brown has been dominant with a 4-1-1 record. Brown has not lost at home since Sept. 13, a 1-0 loss to No. 10 Washington.