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PHILADELPHIA - Penn makes its penultimate road trip for the 2012 men's soccer season this weekend, heading to New Haven for a date with Yale on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Reese Stadium. Both sides are still looking for their first Ivy League wins of 2012, Penn sitting 0-3-0 inside the Ancient Eight while Yale is 0-2-1.
A matchup with the Bulldogs could be just what Penn needs to solidify its defensive unit. Penn enters the match with 30 goals allowed over 12 matches - the most in the Ivy League. The Red and Blue have allowed a goal in every match this season, one of four teams left in the country without a clean sheet. Penn's best chance to hold an opponent scoreless comes on Saturday against a Yale team which has mustered only five goals in 14 games - an average of 0.36 goals-per-game.
Something will have to give this weekend in terms of team trends. Penn has scored in 11 of its 12 games, and in Penn's 12 games, both sides have scored at least one goal in 11 matches, Penn and its opponents combining for 53 goals this season. For the Bulldogs, they have scored goals in just three matches, shutout in all seven losses and three ties. They have also put together a pair of clean sheets, for 15 combined shutouts in 11 games. Since scoring its second goal in a 2-1 win over Marist on Sept. 23, Yale has gone without a goal - a span of 489:23 over parts of six matches. That scoreless streak bests a run of 397:41 without a goal to start the season. By comparison, Penn's longest goal drought was a period of 159:50 over parts of three games from Sept. 29-Oct. 13.
The most likely candidate to break through for Penn on Saturday is Travis Cantrell. The senior co-captain has a team-high six goals, establishing a new career high for the midfielder. He has scored in six games this season, connecting on a variety of plays from penalty kicks to long strikes from 30+ yards out. Cantrell's six goals have him second on the team in points, tied with Stephen Baker one point behind team-leading Duke Lacroix who has five goals and three assists. All three are inside the top-six of Ivy League scorers.
The Bulldogs have the Ivy League leader in saves in goal in Bobby Thalman. He has made 58 saves in his 12 games, and also ranks second in the Ancient Eight in save percentage at .829. Penn's Max Kurtzman has been just as busy in his nine starts, making 50 saves (an average of 5.56 saves-per-game).
Last year, Penn was edged at Rhodes Field by the Bulldogs, 2-1, in double overtime. The Bulldogs scored in the 57th minute to take a 1-0 lead, but Penn countered with a Christian Barreiro goal in the 83rd minute to tie the match. Penn was down a man at the time of the goal after a late red card to Nick Unger, and the disadvantage was evident in the second extra period as the Bulldogs tallied in the 105th minute to secure the win. All-time, Penn is 48-41-8 against Yale.