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PHILADLEPHIA - The Ivy League/Big East Classic is back for a second year, with four matches this weekend between four of the best programs in the Northeast Region as Penn, Princeton, Georgetown and Villanova meet. This year, the Quakers host Georgetown on Friday (7 p.m.) before a 4 p.m. tilt on the Main Line against the Wildcats on Sunday.
The Red and Blue (2-2-0) went 1-1-0 in last year's edition of the Ivy League/Big East Classic, with a 3-1 win at Georgetown following a 1-0 loss against 'Nova. The Wildcats are the defending champions of the event, with a perfect record last season, adding a 2-0 win over Princeton to the victory at Rhodes Field. The Hoyas and Tigers - who finished their match knotted at 1-1 in 2010 - are still looking for their first win during the showcase.
Penn is looking to find its way back into the win column after a winless sojourn to San Diego last weekend. After two wins in Philly to start the season, the Quakers were blanked twice in San Diego - a 1-0 loss at the University of San Diego and a 2-0 loss at San Diego State. The offense stalled for the Quakers, but Penn's three top attackers have continued to let shots fly as Stephen Baker (20), Duke Lacroix (12) and Christian Barreiro (11) have all been constant in their pressure towards the opposing goal. Lacroix and Barreiro still pace the team with four points each, but the offense needs to find its footing to take down a talented Hoya squad.
Georgetown enters the weekend with a 3-1-1 record, and the Hoyas have picked up points in their last four outings. That isn't to say that the wins have been easy - in fact, the Blue and Grey have went to double overtime in each of their last three matches. Before a full 110-minute 2-2 tie at Michigan on Sunday, the Hoyas had taken wins in the second overtime, downing Michigan State, 2-1, and Stanford, 1-0. Sophomore Steve Neumann leads the Hoya offense with four goals, continuing his success after a stellar freshman season where he was first-team All-Freshman by Soccer America and a second-team All-BIG EAST selection. He had 10 goals and 28 points last year. The New Hope, Pa. native graduated from Council Rock North and is likely to have a strong support section on Friday night. In goal, Tomas Gomez has played every minute to start his collegiate career, making 14 saves and posting a goals-against average of 0.71 with two shutouts. Georgetown is right outside the NSCAA National Rankings, with 44 votes to slide in at No. 26, with preseason All-America midfielder Ian Christianson leading the charge in the center of the pitch. He was the 2010 BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year, finishing with 17 points and a second-team All-Region nod.
Sunday's match at Villanova will again test the Quakers against a national presence as the Wildcats enter the weekend with a 2-1-2 record. 'Nova was also out west last weekend, returning to Philly with one point after a 0-0 tie at No. 6 UC-Santa Barbara and a 1-0 loss at Cal-Poly. Sunday's match will feature the first two Philadelphia Soccer Six Players of the Week in Penn's Lacroix and 'Nova's John Fogarty. He had two clean sheets out on the West Coast and he has allowed just two goals in five starts. Aaron Dennis has made Fogarty's goalkeeping standup as the freshman striker has scored three goals this season. The Wildcats have not been involved in any high-scoring matches this year, with Dennis' three goals accounting for 75% of 'Nova's offense.
Looking back to 2010 ...
Penn opened the Ivy League/Big East Classic with a 1-0 loss to Villanova. The Wildcats scored eight minutes in on a Daniel Gonzalez goal, and that score held up. Penn played without center back Jake Levin and lost Nick Unger to injury, as well, in the opening minutes. In the second match, Penn again allowed an early goal - with Georgetown scoring in the 10th minute - but rallied with three goals in the second half to score a 3-1 win in D.C. Travis Cantrell scored in the 52nd minute to tie the match before Stephen Baker scored in the 55th and 83rd minutes to provide breathing room.
All-Time vs. The Hoyas and Wildcats ...
Penn is 2-1 all-time against Georgetown and 14-5-5 against Villanova.
Catch the Games ...
As with all home men's soccer matches in 2011, the Friday match with Georgetown will be streamed live on the Penn Sports Network. Sunday's match at Villanova will also be streamed live online.