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PHILADELPHIA - For the first time since 2005, Penn will take on its closest-neighboring Division I rival on Wednesday as the Quakers take a quick trip westward to Drexel for an 8 p.m. match.
The Red and Blue are 28-8-2 all-time against the Dragons, but will be taking on a Drexel side much improved than the one Penn last saw. In '05, the Quakers held Drexel to just nine total shots in a 5-0 win at Vidas Field. Penn scored four times in the final 55 minutes to defeat the Dragons, bring the heat to the Dragons in the first half with a 16-1 shot advantage.
Drexel enters the match with a 4-2-1 overall record and a 4-2-0 mark in its last five outings. On Saturday, the Dragons secured a signature win, defeated No. 11 Old Dominion, 4-1, in Philadelphia to get the CAA season started on the right note.
Penn didn't truly pick up a signature win over the weekend, but it did win twice, snapping an 0-6-0 start to the season. The Quakers scored 10 goals over their two wins at the Princeton Invitational, including a 7-2 win over Rider on Sunday. After a shaky start to the campaign, with goals at a premium despite a multitude of shots taken, Penn's potent pair of forwards has woken up as the season reaches the midway point.
Junior Stephen Baker stepped onto the pitch Friday night with zero points in five matches, and subbed out of Sunday's match with 11. He scored five goals and added an assist during the two matches, including a four-goal, one-assist day on Sunday - the first four-goal game for a Penn player since 1977. Baker was named Ivy League and Philadelphia Soccer Six Co-Player of the Week for his efforts, also picking up a spot on the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week.
Baker's running mate up top for the Red and Blue has also come to life of late in Duke Lacroix. Over the last four matches, Lacroix has scored four five goals and added three assists. To sit atop the scoring tables of not only the Red and Blue but the Philadelphia Soccer Six as well. Lacroix's 13 points rank him 25th in the country while both Baker and Lacroix sit 35th in goals with their five markers.
The amped up Penn offense has produce two wins for goalkeeper Max Kurtzman to backup his stellar save numbers. Through six matches, Kurtzman has averaged 6.67 saves-per-game, ranking fourth in the country and tops in the Ancient Eight. Twice he has been called upon to make 10 saves in a game, numbers the Quakers would prefer to not reach but prove one of the nation's best keepers serves as the last line of defense when called upon.
The Dragons, 4-2-1 this season, are just one win away from matching their total from 2011. Michele Pataia scored twice in the win over ODU last week to share Co-PS^ Player of the Week honors with Baker and leads the Dragons with three goals. Fabio Machado has four assists to go with a pair of goals and leads the Dragons with eight points. Junior midfielder Ken Tribbett was second-team All-CAA in 2011 after a CAA All-Rookie performance in 2010, and he enters the match with a goal and an assist. In goal, Tim Washam has played the last six matches in place of third-team All-CAA keeper in 2011 Pentti Pussinen who has been out with injury. Washam has posted a 4-1-1 record this season, after 2-3-0 record in 2009 and 2010. His easiest night of work came in a win over Lehigh where he was not called upon to make a save while recording a clean sheet. On Saturday, he was busier, making six stops in the win over ODU.