PHILADELPHIA--Hosting the final game of the regular season, the No. 24 Penn men’s soccer team will face No. 26 Harvard in a match to decide the Ivy League title. Leading Penn by two points in the Ivy standings, Harvard stands at 11-4 with a 5-1 league mark. The Quakers, currently tied with Dartmouth at 4-1-1, have a 10-2-4 overall record.
It has been nearly 40 years since Penn has hosted a game with such significance. In 1971, the Red and Blue defeated Cornell at home in the final game of the season to take the title outright. In 1980, Penn found itself with everything on the line in the last game of the season yet again. This time at Cornell, the Quakers prevailed and shared the title with Columbia. A loss there would have given the title to the Big Red.
This year, the scenarios look like this...
1. If Harvard wins... they are the outright champion
2. If Penn wins and Dartmouth loses or ties... Penn is the outright champion
3. If Penn and Dartmouth win... Penn would have the automatic bid and Dartmouth/Penn would be co-champions (Penn beat Dartmouth head-to-head on 10/18)
4. If Penn and Harvard tie and Dartmouth wins... Dartmouth would win the automatic bid (Dartmouth beat Harvard head-to-head on 11/1) and Harvard/Dartmouth would be co-champs
5. If Harvard and Penn tie, and Dartmouth loses or ties... Harvard would be the outright champion
Adding to the drama, it is senior night for Penn’s 12 seniors. The Quakers will be honoring the Class of 2009 in a pregame ceremony. Click here for senior profiles.
Even taking the title out of the mix, the Penn-Harvard match-up is sure to be thrilling. The pair hold the top two spots in every Ivy League offensive breakdown. Going both ways, the Crimson and Quakers will have to battle.
On attack, Penn has seen goals from 10 different players and have used 16 different players to set up those scores. Seniors Omid Shokoufandeh, Andrew Ferry and Kevin Unger have led the attack and have all registered double-digit points this season.
They will face the only keeper in the league with a lower goals-against average than Penn’s Drew Healy. Freshman Austin Harms has seen significantly less minutes in goal than Healy, but has held the position since Oct. 4 and boasts a 0.42 goals-against average in nine games this season.
Going the other way, Harvard’s attack is currently the sixth most potent in the NCAA, scoring 2.27 goals per game. Boosting that number was the Crimson’s 6-1 blowout against Columbia last weekend. In that game, junior Andre Akpan set a new record for Harvard in assists and points. Senior Michael Fucito, who scored the 2007 game-winner against Penn, has also been lighting it up with 22 points this season.
The Crimson will square off against Healy who has shut down high-powered offenses all season with 10 clean sheets to his credit and a stingy 0.64 goals-against average. That mark is the 13th-best mark in the NCAA this season. Moreover, there are only six keepers in the country with more shutouts this season.
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m., under the lights at Rhodes Field. Admission is free and Red and Blue Rewards members will receive points for attending.
Download: senior insert.pdf