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PHILADELPHIA - After three matches away from Rhodes Field, Penn returns to its home pitch on Saturday when the Quakers host Dartmouth in a pivotal Ivy League men's soccer match at 7:30 p.m.
The Quakers went 1-1-1 on the road swing, the win an all-important Ancient Eight victory over Columbia last Saturday. While Penn's 6-4-2 overall record may not be as stellar as the Quakers would like, the comeback win over the Lions gave the Red and Blue three points in the Ivy standings - very important when the overall landscape of the League is observed.
Just two weeks into Ivy League play, the Quakers find themselves tied for third in the League with their three points. Penn is joined by three other clubs - including this weekend's visiting Big Green - behind the two squads currently atop the group in Cornell and Yale. The Bulldogs and Big Red combined for one win and six total points over 13 matches inside the League last year en route to seventh and eighth place finishes, but this season is a different story as both sides are 2-0-0 against Ivy foes.
Penn and Dartmouth's position square in the middle of the race for an Ivy title adds heightened importance to Saturday's match. A win provides separation while also keeping within striking distance of the two leaders - who happen to play each other on Saturday, as well. In fact, there is a hint of "Separation Saturday" to the weekend slate, as the other two teams tied with Penn and Dartmouth has a chance to seriously hinder two of the League's perennial contenders' chances to rally back into contention. Brown (1-1-0 in the Ivies) is at Harvard (0-2-0) while Columbia (1-1-0) is at Princeton (0-2-0).
Entering the middle portion of the Ivy schedule, the Quakers boast the Ivy League's most potent offense with 21 total goals for an average of 1.75 goals-per-game. Penn's attack is sending 17.17 shots-per-game towards goal, also tops in the Ivy League.
Stylistically, the numbers indicate that the Quakers will look to pressure Dartmouth's defense while the Big Green are content to pick and choose their chances. While the Quakers lead the Ancient Eight in shots, the Big Green rank at the bottom with 118 total shots over 10 matches. Individually, though, the top three shooters in the Ivies are scheduled to play on Saturday. Penn has the top two in Stephen Baker (49 shots) and Christian Barreiro (44), while Dartmouth's Lucky Mkosana is third with 43.
Those three players are also in the top ten in points among Ivy players, with Mkosana ranking third with 15 points. Barreiro is right behind him, leading Penn and ranking fourth with 14 points while Baker is eighth with 10 points. Freshman Duke Lacroix is also near the top of the Ivy points race with 12, currently ranked sixth overall and first among rookies.
Another Penn freshman, goalkeeper Max Kurtzman, leads the Ivy League in total minutes played to date with 1118:28 of game time spent between the pipes. He has allowed 13 goals over 12 matches, a goals-against average of 1.05. Dartmouth's Noah Cohen posts a 1.34 GAA with 14 goals over 10 matches. Both have similar save percentage numbers, with Cohen at .736 and Kurtzman at .735.
The Big Green are 4-4-2 overall this season, and have won three of their last four outings. Dartmouth opened Ivy play with a convincing 4-1 win over Princeton before a 2-0 loss at Yale last weekend. After Mkosana's seven goals and 15 points, the next-most dangerous player on the Big Green is Kevin Dzierzawski who has two goals and four assists. Colin Skelly and Aaron Gaide have played every game for Dartmouth on defense, and Skelly - a Germantown Academy grad - will be making his first collegiate trip to West Philadelphia this weekend.
If you can't make it to Rhodes Field this weekend, both games of the soccer doubleheader with Dartmouth will be streamed online at PennAthletics.com via the Penn Sports Network, starting with the women's match at 5 p.m.