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PHILADELPHIA – It’s Penn vs. Princeton week.
Normally, that is enough to just roll a ball out to midfield and blow the whistle when the two sides meet in men’s soccer. However, for added measure, three distinct and important subplots linger over the 102nd meeting between these two traditional rivals at Rhodes Field on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Most importantly, both Penn and Princeton enter Saturday’s match tied for second place in the Ivy League with 10 points off matching 3-1-1 records in Ivy League play. Both the Quakers (6-8-1 overall) and Tigers (6-8-1 overall) sit two pints behind Harvard with two weeks to play. There are six teams within six points of each other as Saturday’s penultimate weekend of Ivy competition begins, with only Penn and Harvard truly in control of their own destinies. Two wins from the Quakers, and they will hoist the Ivy League trophy for the first time since 2008.
Another story line for the Quakers on Saturday is Senior Day for the seven senior members of the team. Stephen Baker, Jonny Dolezal, Ethan Jones, Austin Kinn, Tyler Kinn, Alex Reddy and Nicky Yin have been a part of 30 wins entering this weekend, and began their careers with a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 – a destination they have within reach in their final campaign as Quakers.
Adding to the excitement surrounding Saturday’s tilt is that it is Homecoming Weekend at the University, a special one at that as Penn Athletics celebrates the close of a $125 million Campaign for Penn Athletics which included the renovation of Rhodes Field and the new team bench areas, video scoreboard and picnic area at Penn’s home pitch.
Penn has had its most success at home during the 2013 season, posting a 6-4-1 record in West Philadelphia. With a win on Saturday, Penn will equal the 2010 team for most wins at home in a season under head coach Rudy Fuller.
Four of the top-five point scorers in the Ivy League will take the field on Saturday, two from each side. Duke Lacroix leads the Ancient Eight in scoring with 17 points (7g, 3a), while Alec Neumann is fifth with four goals and four assists. Princeton boasts Cameron Porter (6g, 3a) and Thomas Sanner (7g, 1a) at the top of its lineup. As a team, Penn leads all Ivy programs with 25 goals scored this season while Princeton is tied for fourth with 18.
Penn is 49-43-9 all-time against Princeton, with a 1-3-1 record the last five meetings. The last time Penn and Princeton met at Rhodes Field saw a 2-1 win for the Quakers on Nov. 5, 2011. In a tight defensive battle which saw just 15 combined shots between the two teams, Penn rallied for the win on goals from Jake Levin and Stephen Baker. Tyler Kinn made four saves in goal for his first career win.
Princeton is 1-6-1 away from Roberts Stadium this season, its lone win in a road match coming at Dartmouth via a 2-1 score on Oct. 5. Last week, the Tigers edged Cornell, 2-1, holding on after the Big Red climbed within one with 3:17 to play.
Outside of Porter and Sanner, Princeton has received just five goals from the remainder of its roster, led by Nico Hurtado who has two. 10 different players outside the leading two scorers have at least one point, however, with 11 total players registering at least one assist. Seth MacMillan has started almost every match in goal for the Tigers, posting a 1.58 GAA while allowing 21 goals on 55 shots faced. He has made 34 saves for a .618 save percentage.
** Parking Note*
Fans are advised that with Homecoming Weekend events scheduled throughout the day on Saturday parking will be limited. Fans attending the soccer match are advised to use Lot 33 near Meiklejohn Stadium (riight at the entrance to the access road to Riverfields Drive which leads to Rhodes Field) when parking for the soccer match.