PHILADELPHIA – For the second season in a row, Penn will bring a 2-0-0 record to the west coast as the Quakers head to Washington this weekend for a pair of non-conference tests. Up first is a Friday tilt with Seattle (10 p.m. EST) followed by a Sunday matinee with No. 10 Washington (4 p.m. EST).
The Quakers, receiving votes in this week’s NSCAA/Continental Tire Division I Top-25, will be playing their first-ever matches against their “Emerald State” opponents this weekend. The last time the Quakers played an opponent from Seattle’s conference, the WAC, was a 2-1 loss to Air Force on Sept. 7, 2012. The Quakers have not taken on a Pac-12 opponent since a 2-0 loss at San Diego State in 2011. All-time, Penn is 2-4-1 against Pac-12 schools.
This weekend’s trip will be a homecoming for three Penn players. Marc Kaizi-Lutu, Matt Poplawski, and Louis Schott each grew up in the Seattle area and played their club soccer for teams based out of Seattle.
Sunday’s match with Washington will see Penn taken on its highest-ranked opponent since a 2-1 loss to No. 9 Penn State in Philadelphia last season. Penn’s last win over a ranked opponent came in 2010, a 1-0 win over No. 13 Brown. Since then, the Quakers have dropped their last six matches against Top-25 foes.
Through two matches, Penn (2-0-0) is one of 17 schools unbeaten and untied left in Division I. The Red and Blue are averaging 3.00 goals-per-game, good for sixth in the country.
Individually, Penn sees sophomore forward Alec Neumann rank seventh in the country in goals-per-game at 1.00, while midfielder Forrest Clancy is third among all Division I players in assists-per-game with 1.00.
Goalkeeper Max Polkinhorne has yet to experience a regulation defeat in his career, with a 6-0-1 record over his two seasons with the Quakers. His only loss was via penalty kicks to Providence in the NCAA Tournament last season.
Speaking of the NCAA Tournament, Penn’s two opponents this weekend were also NCAA Tournament clubs last season, making it three out of Penn’s first four opponents this season who advanced to the national tournament in 2013. Seattle defeated Creighton, 2-1, in the first round before suffering a 4-2 defeat at Washington.
The Redhawks are 2-1-0 this season, the only loss a 4-2 defeat – at then-No. 4 Washington – last Thursday. Prior to that, Seattle scored a 2-1 win against Furman and a 2-0 win against the College of Charleston in the Nike/Aaron Olitsky Soccer Classic at COC.
Last season, Seattle went undefeated in the WAC, claiming both the regular season and conference tournament championships. Preseason polls expect the Redhawks to retain that title as the league’s head coaches selected Seattle as the preseason favorite.
The Redhawks graduated 2013 WAC Offensive Player of the Year in Miguel Gonzalez who led the WAC in goals, points and shots last season. Brady Ballew and Jeff Rose have stepped in so far to replace some of that offense, each with two goals early into 2014. Defender Kyle Bjornethun was WAC Freshman of the Year last season and returns to backbone Seattle’s back line.
In goal for Seattle, Shane Haworth earned MAC Defensive Player of the Week honors earlier this season after picking up the win in two matches at the Nike/Aaron Olitsky Soccer Classic. He has made 19 saves through three matches this season.
On Sunday, the Quakers will complete their Washington weekend with a match against the No. 10 Huskies. A quarterfinalist last year in the NCAA Tournament, Washington had been ranked as high as No. 4 this season in the Top-25 before a 2-1 loss in overtime to St. Mary’s (CA) last weekend.
Before the loss, Washington had outscored its opponents, 8-1, in its first two wins. Darwin Jones, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last season, has opened 2014 on fire with three goals and two assists through three matches. 2013 Soccer America Freshman of the Year, Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and first-team All-Pac-12 selection Cristian Roldan has one goal so far in 2014 after going for seven goals and five assists as a rookie.
Last season, the Pac-12 champions were 10-1-2 at Husky Soccer Field, including 4-0-1 against non-conference opponents.