PHILADELPHIA - For the second time in three years, the University of Pennsylvania women's soccer team heads to Princeton's Roberts Stadium with a chance to gain the Ivy League title.
The scenario is a little different than it was two years ago -- this time, the Tigers (6-0-0 Ivy League) already have clinched a share of the crown, and a Princeton win or tie will give them the title outright. For Penn (5-1-0), it is win or go home.
Penn and Princeton will kick off Saturday at 4 p.m.; one hour earlier the other team still in the hunt, Dartmouth (5-1-0), will kick off with Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y.
Saturday's championship scenarios...
Princeton beats or ties Penn: Nothing else matters. The Tigers would win the Ivy League title outright and earn the conference's NCAA Championship berth.
Penn beats Princeton, Dartmouth ties or loses to Cornell: Penn and Princeton would tie for the title, both at 6-1-0, but the Quakers would earn the conference's NCAA berth by virtue of winning the head-to-head meeting with the Tigers.
Penn beats Princeton, Dartmouth beats Cornell: The Big Green, Quakers and Tigers would be tri-champions, all of them at 6-1-0. (The teams would have gone 1-1-0 in head-to-head with each other -- Princeton beat Dartmouth, Dartmouth beat Penn, Penn beat Princeton.) The conference's NCAA Championship berth would be decided in a random draw by the Ivy League's Executive Director, Robin Harris.
The Class of 2013: Saturday will represent the last regular-season game for seniors Sarah Banks, Erin Beck, Alex Dayneka and Erin Thayer. These four women have been a part of one of the best eras in the Penn women's soccer program's history. The Quakers have gone 42-18-6 overall during their tenure; only four classes in the program's 22-year history have won more matches, the most recent being the Class of 2003 which was part of 44 wins. With Saturday's match still to play, they have already won more Ivy matches than any other class in program history, going 18-6-3 and being a part of the Quakers' 2010 championship squad.
All-Time Winningest Classes at Penn: The Class of 2001 (48 wins); the Class of 2002 (47); the Class of 2003 (44); the Class of 2000 (43); the Class of 2013 (42).
The Series with Princeton: The Tigers lead the series, 11-8-2, but Penn is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings including a 3-1 victory last year in Philadelphia. The tie, of course, came two years ago at Roberts Stadium -- Penn's first trip to the Tigers' new venue -- and gave the Quakers the Ivy League title. Three of the last five matchups have gone to overtime.
About Princeton: The Tigers (12-3-1, 6-0-0 Ivy) have won 10 matches in a row and scored 45 goals this year, putting them at the head of the Ivy table. Jen Hoy, a first-team All-Ivy pick last year, has been simply unstoppable, with 17 goals, while Lauren Lazo has seven tallies and Caitlin Blosser has scored four times. At the other end, Claire Pinciaro has a 1.02 goals-against average and a .788 save percentage.
*The Quakers' 1-0 overtime win over Brown last weekend improved them to 10-1-1 in their last 12 Ivy League matches; in its last 22 Ivy matches going back to 2009, Penn is 16-3-3.
*Penn is 23-7-2 overall since the start of last season, and 27-8-4 over its last 39 matches dating back to the 2010 season. In those 39 matches, Penn has allowed just 22 goals.
*If Penn wins at Princeton, the Quakers would reach 10 wins for the season. Penn has had eight double-figure win seasons, including three of the last five campaigns.
*at 9-5-1, Penn is also guaranteed a winning record overall, keeping alive the program's streak of having a winning record every one of head coach Darren Ambrose's 13 seasons.
*Penn's goal against Brown came from sophomore Megan York, her first of the season. Last year, York was one of the Quakers' top scorers with 11 points (5g, 1a).
*Junior Kerry Scalora, the 2010 Ivy League and ECAC Rookie of the Year, leads Penn with 11 points (4g, 3a).
*Erin Mikolai, a two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week, is tied with Barth for second on the team with three goals, while junior Claire Walker, sophomore Kaitlyn Moore and freshman Elissa Berdini have scored twice each.
*Junior Brianna Rano leads the Quakers with four assists, while Beck has three and is tied for second in that category with Scalora.
*Moore certainly had Penn's most dramatic goal this season -- her tally against Harvard on Sept. 21 came with just 3.9 seconds left in regulation.
*Banks has started all 15 games in goal for Penn, combining for 43 saves while allowing 12 goals and posting six shutouts (including clean sheets each of the last two games). She has been bolstered by a veteran defense in front of her that includes Dayneka, Thayer and Rano along with freshmen Jazmyne Simmons and Caroline Dwyer.
*Dwyer got her first collegiate start last Saturday vs. Brown and went the entire way in Simmons' place. Simmons missed the game due to injury.
*Sophomore goalkeeper Katherine Myhre saw her only game action of 2012, replacing Banks after the senior was injured on the play where Boise State scored in the Broncos' 1-0 win on Sept. 23 at Rhodes Field. In 36 minutes of action, she was not called upon to make a save.
*Seven starters and 14 letterwinners overall return this year from last year's historic squad, which went 14-2-1 overall including a 5-1-1 mark in the Ivy League (good for second place behind Harvard). Penn is 12-2-3 in its last 17 Ivy League matches going back to 2009.
*Penn's overtime win at Sacramento State on Sept. 16 was its first in extra time since Oct. 30, 2010 -- coincidentally, also a 3-2 decision, this time over Brown. All-time, Penn is 9-9-35 in overtime matches.
*Penn's captains for 2012 are Beck -- a second-year captain -- along with Dayneka and Walker.
*Penn returns three All-Ivy players from a year ago, two first-teamers in Beck and senior goalkeeper Banks. Barth was a second-team selection in 2011.
Last year's team put up some staggering numbers including...
*The best record in program history by percentage (14-2-1, .853).
*The 14 wins tied for most in program history (also 1997) and the two losses tied for fewest in program history (also 2001).
*An eight-match win streak, longest in program history (previous record six).
*The team allowed just seven goals all season, a program record (previous mark 13), and scored 39 goals which was tied for second-most in program history (also 2001).
*Penn posted 13 shutouts in 17 matches, setting a program record and leading the nation at the NCAA Division I level in shutout percentage (.765).
*Penn finished last year third nationally in goals-against average (0.41), sixth in win percentage (.853), and seventh in save percentage (.887).