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PHILADELPHIA - Penn heads to enemy territory this weekend - just not to defeat the usual enemy - as the Quakers head north to Princeton, N.J. for the 2012 Princeton Invitational. The Red and Blue have two games on the docket, opening with Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday (5 p.m.) before a noon game with Rider on Sunday.
The Quakers are a hard-luck 0-6-0 at this point of 2012, still looking for their first points in the standings. After four one-goal losses to open the campaign, Penn suffered a pair of two-goal defeats last weekend to challenging BIG EAST squads in Villanova (5-3) and No. 12 Georgetown (3-1).
A positive sign for the Quakers last weekend was the awakening of Duke Lacroix. The reigning Ivy League and Philadelphia Soccer Six Rookie of the Year finally found a place on the scoresheet when matched up against the BIG EAST, scoring two goals and adding an assist over the two matches for his first points of his sophomore season. If fellow forward Stephen Baker can begin to find the back of the net after a scoreless streak of five matches to start the season, Penn may begin to provide the offensive zone time needed to give an overworked defensive unit a breather.
The Quakers have allowed 17 goals over six matches, including eight in two games last weekend. Sophomore goalkeeper Max Kurtzman has been especially busy, ranking second in the NCAA in saves-per-game with an average of 7.0 despite allowing 12 goals in four matches.
On Friday, Penn plays a Fairleigh Dickinson team which it has never lost to, owning a 4-0-0 record all-time against the Knights. The last meeting between the two sides came in 2004, a 1-0 win for the Quakers at Rhodes Field via an Erik Violante goal in the 22nd minute. The Knights are 3-2-1 overall this season, including a 1-0 win over a Lafayette team which defeated Penn, 3-2, earlier this season. Last weekend, the Knights travelled to Birmingham, Ala. For the UAB "Soccer for a Cure" event and went 0-1-1. After a 2-2 draw with host UAB, Fairleigh Dickinson was edged by Memphis, 1-0. Nico Wright leads FDU in scoring with four goals and two assists, followed by first-team All-NEC midfielder Jack McVey who has two goals and an assist. FDU as a team has scored 11 goals while allowing the same, Jacob Lissek seeing the majority of time in goal to the tune of a 3-1-1 record and a 1.91 GAA and two shutouts.
Depending on the results of Friday, Sunday's match could be a jumpstart for two programs struggling for points. Similar to Penn, Rider enters the weekend without a point, holding an 0-5-0 record. The Broncs have scored just two goals in their five matches to open 2012, and have not led a match since the 45th minute of an eventual 2-1 loss to Seton Hall on Sept. 3 - the second match of the season. Robert Kroschwitz and Ryan Walsh have the two goals for the Broncs to start the season, while Matt Perrella and Jason Giordano have split time in goal.