PHILADELPHIA – Two weeks remain in the Ivy League men’s soccer season and the University of Pennsylvania finds itself in a similar situation to last season – two points out of first place with two matches to play. However, unlike last season where three teams had a chance to hoist the Ivy trophy entering the season’s penultimate week, there six teams with mathematic chances to claim the championship.
Two teams are tied atop the Ancient Eight with 10 points – Dartmouth and Princeton. The Quakers will head to its storied archival in New Jersey this weekend, taking on the Tigers at Roberts Stadium at 7 p.m.
For all intents and purposes, Saturday’s tilt is a must-win for the Red and Blue if they want to have a shot at repeating as Ivy League champions. While a tie would only eliminate the Quakers if Dartmouth picks up a win, picking up the three points from the Tigers on the road is essential.
The Red and Blue have yet to be defeated on the road in Ivy League play this season, posting a 2-0-1 mark away from Rhodes Field in Ancient Eight games. The last time the Quakers did not lose on the road in conference play was in 2008 when Penn went 3-0-1.
Senior Duke Lacroix enters the game with 19 points this season, tied for his single-season high. He is also one off his career high of eight goals scored in a season. No Penn player has scored more career points than Lacroix’s 64 since Mike Constantino recorded 69 from 1986-90.
For his career, Lacroix is almost a point-per-game player, recording his 64 points in 66 matches.
The Ivy League’s four leading scorers will take the field on Saturday, with Penn sending Lacroix (19 points) and Alec Neumann (17) out to counter Princeton’s Cameron Porter (29) and Thomas Sanner (18).
Porter also leads the League in goals with 13, taking full advantage of his six penalty kick strikes this season. His 1.93 points-per-game and 0.86 goals-per-game are both second in the nation.
The Tigers are rolling, entering Saturday with a 6-0-1 record in their last seven matches and a 9-3-3 record overall. After dropping the first match of the Ivy slate to Dartmouth in overtime, 2-1, the Tigers only other non-win since September 24 was a 1-1 draw at Columbia.
Last weekend, Andrew Mills knocked in the game-winning goal in the 88th minute at Cornell. On Tuesday, Ben Hummel made six saves as part of a 2-0 shutout of American.
Last year, Penn scored a 2-1 win over the Tigers at Rhodes Field. After conceding a goal to Porter in the 28th minute, the Quakers rallied for the next two markers. Matt Poplawski tied the game in the 43rd minute before the Red and Blue found the winner in the 61st minute. Max Polkinhorne came off the bench to make four saves in the final 41:53 after Tyler Kinn was injured making the final of his six saves.