PHILADELPHIA - One final game awaits the University of Pennsylvania men's soccer team, as the Quakers will face Columbia for an unprecedented second time this year, at neutral site Roberts Stadium in Princeton, on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Prior to the game, the Red and Blue will honor its three-member senior class: Nick Savino, Alec Neumann and Matt Poplawski.
Penn (5-5-6, 3-2-1 Ivy League) is looking to end its year on a high note and capture a share of its first Ivy League title since 2013.
Inside the Numbers
With a 67th minute equalizing strike in Penn's last game against Princeton, Neumann has continued his strong offensive threat this season. The senior now boasts nine goals, the most by any Quaker since 2008, which is second-most in the Ivy League. Joined with his two assists on the year, Neumann owns 20 points this year.
The Quakers have been strong in sharing the ball, as 11 different players have recorded at least one assist this fall. Joe Swenson leads the way with four, followed by junior captain Sam Wancowicz with three. 20 of Penn's 25 goals have come via an assist.
Dami Omitaomu has had an impressive rookie year for the Red and Blue, consistently remaining an offensive threat for the Quakers. The freshman from Knoxville, Tenn. has come on strong of late, netting a goal in Penn's 3-0 win over Yale, while recording a brace and the golden-goal winner in a 2-1 overtime victory over Brown.
The Quakers rank in the top half of the conference in a handful of offensive categories including shots per game (3rd - 12.31), shots on goal per game (2nd - 5.63), points per game (3rd - 4.38) and total goals (3rd - 25). Neumann's 0.60 goals per game average is second in the league.
Penn has earned 90 corner kicks this year, the most in the Ivy League.
Penn's six draws this year are the most in program history and tied for the most in the NCAA this fall. The Red and Blue have battled into overtime 10 times in 16 games this season.
Wednesday's contest is the first neutral site game for the Quakers since 2012, which also happened to take place at Princeton's Roberts Stadium against Rider.
Stellar Senior Class
As a senior class, Neumann, Poplawski and Savino (began his time as a Quaker in 2013 as a student-manager after transferring from UC-Santa Barbara) have totaled 22 wins in their three-plus seasons on the pitch and were a part of the 2013 Ivy League Champion team that finished the year 8-8-2 and 5-1-1 among Ancient Eight competition.
Neumann has been consistent as a playmaker in his time for the Red and Blue, and as a senior the New Hope, Pa. native has notched nine goals and two assists, good for 20 points on the year. His nine goals rank as the second-most in the Ivy League and the most for any Quaker since Omid Shokoufandeh in 2008. Neumann has collected second-team All-Ivy honors every year he has competed for the Quakers. The senior captain has played in 66 games at Penn (fourth-most in program history), with 59 starts, and his 59 points (24 goals, 11 assists) for his career rank as the sixth-most in school history. Earlier this year, Neumann notched a natural hat trick in a 5-0 win over local rival Drexel, and in addition to being named Ivy League Rookie of the Week in 2013, Neumann has collected two Ivy League Player of the Week honors this year. He is set to graduate in May from the College of Arts and Sciences with a major in PPA.
A marketing major in the Wharton School of Business, Poplawski has played in 56 games for the Red and Blue, making 46 starts including every game this year. Offensively, the Bellevue, Wash. native's senior year has been a standout season, as Poplawski has netted four goals (second-most on the team) and also notched an assist. For his career, Poplawski owns six goals and five assists for a total of 17 points. As a freshman, Poplawski was named honorable mention All-Ivy. As a senior captain in the midfield, Poplawski is often lauded as the vocal heart of the team, directing the Quakers across the field from the opening whistle to the final horn.
Savino has appeared in eight matches between the pipes for Penn over his career, making seven starts, including one this year. In 2015, he earned the starting nod seven times and boasted two wins, while leading the Quakers in goals-against average (1.69) with two shutouts. He was once named Philadelphia Soccer Six Defender of the Week after blanking Saint Joseph's and Cornell last year. As a fifth-year senior, Savino is set to graduate in December with a degree in history from the College of Arts and Sciences.
Penn's Path to a Championship
The Quakers still have a chance to earn a share of the Ivy League Championship, depending on how things play out among Ancient Eight teams. For Penn to get its hands on the league crown, the following would need to occur:
- Penn defeats Columbia Wednesday
- Brown defeats Dartmouth Saturday
Depending on if Columbia wins or loses against Cornell on Sunday, Penn could be in either a group of three or four teams to share the Ivy League Championship. Due to head-to-head tiebreakers, the Red and Blue are not in play to receive the Ivy League automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Series with Columbia
The Quakers lead the all-time series with the Lions 33-31-6 but Columbia has had the advantage of late, winning four of the past five matches against Penn, including stealing a 2-1 win in double overtime earlier this season at Rhodes Field. With just 12 seconds left in the game, the Quakers were whistled for a foul, leading to a penalty kick for the Lions that they converted for the pivotal victory. James C. Gentle Head Coach Rudy Fuller holds a record of 7-9-3 against the Lions in 18 games played.
Scouting the Lions
Columbia boasts an impressive overall record of 11-3-1 on the year, including a 3-1-1 mark in Ivy League action. Since their last match against the Quakers, the Lions have gone 5-1, only dropping one contest to Dartmouth by a score of 1-0. Columbia is led by a balanced attack, as Arthur Bosua's 11 points is tops on the squad, followed by six each from Alex Bangerl and John Denis. Dylan Castanheira has taken over in the goal, owning a 0.39 GAA, allowing just three goals in 748:57 minutes played.