PHILADELPHIAIn a matchup that could determine the winner of the Ivy League, the No. 3-ranked University of Pennsylvania women’s lacrosse team hosts No.7 Princeton at Franklin Field on Wednesday. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start time.
The Quakers come into the contest having survived a 7-6 overtime thriller to No. 13 Dartmouth last Saturday. Senior attack Becca Edwards’ stellar play during the game, including a breakaway goal in overtime to seal the victory, earned her Ivy League Player of the Week Honors for the week of April 13 and helped preserve the Red and Blue’s perfect record to date. Penn has now won 11 consecutive games to start the season, and will seek to improve upon its 5-0 conference record with two Ancient Eight fixtures remaining.
To win the Ivy League title, however, the Quakers must first defeat a Princeton squad that also boasts a flawless conference slate and has only one loss on its resume (to No. 6 Duke). The Tigers have been particularly successful during Ivy League play, outscoring their opponents to the tune of a 62-24 goal differential over four games, and will attempt to extend an eight-game winning streak of their own.
In many ways, Penn and Princeton have mirrored each other performance-wise throughout the season. Both teams lead the Ivy League in goal margin per game (+6.76 and +5.34 for Penn and Princeton, respectively), achieved primarily by overwhelming opponents early on; it is a mark of the similarities befitting both squads that the Quakers and Tigers have each outscored opponents by at least 40 goals (54 for Penn and 43 for Princeton) in the first period alone.
The resemblance even extends to the distribution of both teams’ top five scorers. Juniors Courtney Lubbe (34 points), Ali DeLuca (33) and Emma Spiro (25), in addition to freshman Erin Brennan (25) and senior Edwards (22), all compare favorably to Princeton’s own quintet of senior Holly McGarvie (35 points), sophomore Lizzy Drumm (34), senior Kristin Schwab (24), senior Christine Casaceli (24) and junior Kristin Morrison (23). Lubbe, Edwards and Princeton midfielder McGarvie have all garned Ivy League Player of the Week honors during the season.
Meanwhile, two of the best goalkeepers in the Ancient Eight will stand guard in front of the net for their respective teams. Penn’s Emily Szelest leads the conference with a 4.91 goals-against average and ranks third with a 0.481 save percentage. Opposing Szelest will be Erin Tochihara, who boasts the best save percentage (0.578) in the Ivy League and trails only Szelest in goals-against average (7.04).
The rivalry between the two schools has been filled with dramatic highlights in the past, none more striking than Penn’s 9-5 win last year to secure a share of last year’s Ivy League title. The win was the Quakers’ first at Princeton in 22 years, and the Tigers’ first Ivy League loss at home since losing to Dartmouth in 1991. Ironically, Penn, ranked sixth in the nation at the time, entered the contest with a 10-1 overall record against an undefeated Princeton team listed as second in the national polls.