Penn is 4-4 on the season, but all the losses are to teams currently ranked in the USILA's Top 10 --No. 4 Maryland, No. 5 Princeton, No. 7 Duke, No.8 Lafayette--and all of them have come on the road. This weekend is only the Quakers' third home game, and the first against a ranked squad. With talk beginning to turn toward the postseason, a noteworthy win would certainly help Penn's resume.
Cornell leads the overall series between these programs, 59-22-3, and handily defeated the Quakers in Ithaca last season, 21-11. The last time they met at Franklin Field, in 2008, Cornell won 13-5. Penn's last win over Cornell came in 2006, an 8-6 decision here in Philadelphia.
Around the Ivy League
While Penn and Cornell battle Saturday starting at 1 p.m., No. 5 Princeton (1-0) and No. 19 Yale (0-1) will also be playing up in New Haven, Conn. The other Ivy League game on Saturday features Dartmouth (0-0) at No. 16 Harvard (0-1); that game will face off at 3 p.m. No. 15 Brown (1-0) is off this weekend, and plays at Duke on Tuesday.
The Big Red (6-1) is ranked ninth in this week's USILA National Coaches' poll; earlier this week, Cornell defeated No. 17 Stony Brook, 12-9. In that game, Ryan Hurley had five goals and two assists while Rob Pannell had a goal and six assists. Cornell's only loss this season came to No. 1 Virginia (12-4), and last week the Big Red opened Ivy play with an 18-7 throttling of No. 19 Yale. Pannell leads the team in assists (20) and points (32) -- he is second nationally in assists per game -- while Hurley has a team-high 23 goals and is second with 27 points. Chris Ritchie (13), Chris Langton (12) and Scott Austin (11) are also in double digits in the point category. Austin Boykin entered the week fourth nationally in face-off win percentage. In goal, AJ Fiore has played every game; he boasts an 8.44 goals-against average and a .532 save percentage.
*IN THE NATIONAL STATS: Justin Lynch entered the week fifth in ground balls per game (7.13); Corey Winkoff was tied for 16th in assists per game (2.00); Lynch was tied for 23rd in face-off win percentage (.548).
*Penn has lost two in a row, but both of them were close calls -- 10-7 at then-No. 4 Maryland a week ago Monday, and then 11-10 in overtime at then-No. 5 Princeton last Saturday.
*Penn's four-game win streak before those losses was its longest since the 2006 team opened the season with six wins en route to an NCAA Championship bid.
*Penn had eight different goalscorers last Saturday at Princeton; in fact, the Quakers have had at least six difference goalscorers in seven of their eight games so far this season.
*Senior Rob McMullen, who was the Ivy League Player of the Week last week, scored once at Princeton to give him a team-high 15 for the season.
*McMullen, who entered this season with nine collegiate goals, has scored at least two goals in six of Penn's eight games (He had a career-high four vs. Villanova on March 13).
*Winkoff has a 16-game point-scoring streak dating back to last season; he is the only player on the roster to record a point in every game this season (two 2-point games, three 3-point games, three 4-point games).
*The leading assist man for Penn since he arrived on campus, Winkoff has 59 dishes for his career; he needs two to crack the program's all-time Top 10.
*Sophomore John Conneely, who had a goal and an assist at Princeton, is second on the team in assists (10) and points (20). He has a six-game point-scoring streak, and has recorded at least two points in seven of Penn's eight games.
*Junior Al Kohart is second on the team in goals (13) and third in points (18); he was MVP of the DU Face-Off Classic after his career-high five-goal performance against the host Pioneers.
*Kohart was joined on the Face-Off Classic All-Tournament Team by Lynch, senior Brendan Saxon, and sophomore Dan Savage.
*Savage has 14 points (7g, 7a) and a four-game point-scoring streak, while classmate Will Amling has scored in six different games this season.
*Freshman Rob Fitzpatrick has eight goals and an assist over the last four games and 13 points overall (10g, 3a); he is Penn's top-scoring newcomer.
*After scoring just one goal combined in his sophomore and junior seasons, senior Chris Harms has two goals this season as well as one assist.
*Sophomore Tim Schwalje entered the Princeton game with two career points (1g, 1a), but had three assists against the Tigers.
*Senior tri-captain Joe Kelly leads Penn with seven caused turnovers and is second on the team with 28 ground balls.
*Senior Brendan Saxon and sophomore Will Koshansky have five CTs apiece, while senior Brett Hughes has four. Saxon also has 15 ground balls while Hughes has 12.
*Senior Chris Casey has started all eight games in goal, compiling a 10.41 goals-against average and a .511 save percentage; in five of the last six games, he has split halves in the cage with sophomore Joe Hegener (8.62 GAA, .491 save percentage).
Quoting Coach Murphy
"The guys are excited to be getting back home. There is just something about playing at home."
"I look at Cornell, and they are just a solid team in all aspects of the game. They have a terrific face-off guy, they really pressure you on defense and in their ride, and offensively they have a lot of guys who can make things happen. I don't see them as the best team in one particular area that we've faced, but they are clearly among the best teams we'll see with regard to their whole package."
"Faceoffs will be a big part of Saturday's game. Justin has been doing a good job on the X, we need to get him some help on the wings and with our depth."
"We are pretty deep on offense, we've been going with four attackmen and nine offensive middies. I think that creates a lot of energy and also a sense of urgency -- the guys don't want to take shifts off, given the depth. Each guy wants to take advantage of his opportunities."
"A win would be fantastic because it would be an Ivy win. We set some lofty goals for this program when we started the year, and to achieve those goals we need to win these types of games."