PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer team opens its Ivy League slate Saturday against Harvard. Match time is set for 7:30 p.m. at Rhodes Field. Last season, Harvard and Penn tied for fifth in the final league standings, though the Crimson defeated the Quakers 3-2 in the final match of the regular season.
The match marks the 77th meeting of the old foes. Harvard leads the close series, 37-34-5. Earlier in the week, the Quakers fell to Philadelphia Soccer Seven rival La Salle, 3-2. Penn led 2-1 at the half, but was unable to hang onto the lead Wednesday night. Penn’s four-match winning streak was snapped and its record dropped to 4-2-0.
Sophomore Mike Klein earned Ivy League Player of the Week and Philadelphia Soccer Seven Co-Player of the Week honors for his efforts in the Penn Soccer Classic last weekend. Klein scored two goals, including the match-winner, and an assist against Saint Joseph’s and now co-leads the team in points with seven in five games. It is Klein’s first career Ivy Player of the Week honor, though he was honored as the Ivy Rookie of the Week twice last season. It is his second career PS7 weekly nod. Saint Joseph’s goalkeeper Bryan Benedict was also named PS7 Co-Player of the Week.
The Quakers debuted tied for seventh in the 2006 NSCAA Northeast regional poll Tuesday. The team earned the ranking in the midst of a four-game winning streak and claiming the Penn Soccer Classic title, Sept. 17. UConn shares this week’s rank. Harvard is ranked ninth in the same poll.
Harvard enters the game after a successful four-game homestand in which the Crimson won three times, including a 2-1 overtime decision against Vermont Tuesday. Freshman Brian Grimm, making his first career start, ended the contest just 2:03 into the extra session when he headed in a cross from Matt Hoff. Hoff scored midway through the second half on a penalty kick to erase a 1-0 Vermont lead.
College Soccer News rated Harvard’s Andre Akpan as one of this season’s 100 newcomers to watch. Anyone who has been watching has seen the freshman striker rack up double-digit points with three goals and four assists in just seven games this season.