PHILADELPHIA - The stretch run commences for Penn on Saturday when the Quakers head to Providence to take on Brown in Ivy League men's soccer action (7 p.m.) in the final October match for the Red and Blue.
Penn enters the contest with a 6-6-2 record and a 1-3-0 mark inside the Ivy League. While the Quakers sit in sixth place inside the Ivy League, Brown is fourth with a 2-1-1 mark in the Ancient Eight and an 8-4-2 overall record.
Last week's heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Yale in double overtime did Penn no favors in terms of winning the Ivy League title, as the Red and Blue's three points has the Quakers seven behind Ivy leader Cornell with three weeks of League matches left. While overcoming a seven-point deficit and jumping past five teams to the top of the table in three matches seems like a daunting task, there is at least one way that the Red and Blue can snag the Ancient Eight's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament over the next few weeks.
The mathematics and schedule-checking show that Penn needs to win its remaining three matches and receive a lot of help in order to maneuver to the top of the standings. If the Quakers can win their final three contests and get to 12 points, and if things break they way needed in the games featuring teams ranked ahead at the moment, Penn can still in the whole thing.
First things first, however, and head coach Rudy Fuller's club needs to take care of its own business and that starts on Saturday against Brown. The Bears are 4-1-0 at home this season and are returning to Stevenson Field for the first time since Oct. 8 after finishing a three-game road swing where Brown went 2-0-1.
The Quakers, still ranked No. in the Ivy League in goals scored with 23, will take on a Brown defense which has allowed 14 goals in 14 games. Sam Kernan-Schloss has taken control of the goalkeeping situation for Brown, allowing just seven goals over nine appearances this season to currently rank second in the League with a goals-against average of 0.73.
When Penn is on defense, the tandem of Jake Levin and Thomas Brandt will contend with T.J. Popolizio, who ranks second in goals among Ivy players with eight and is tied for second in points with 18. He has scored four game-winners this season, tied for most in the Ivy League.
One of the players Popolizio is tied with in the Ivy League in the points race is Christian Barreiro. The senior midfielder has seven goals and four assists, and he has scored a goal in each of Penn's last four games. Barreiro will be without usual midfield mate Nick Unger for the match on Saturday after Unger was issued a red card in last week's loss to Yale. The loss of Unger further requires Penn's depth to step forward as the Red and Blue have been playing without Stephen Baker since he suffered an injury at Columbia three weeks ago. Austin Kinn, Alex Reddy and Mariano Gonzalez-Guerineau are all primed to see an increased role in the attack this weekend.
The other matches in the Ivy League on Saturday see Yale head to New York City to take on Columbia (4 p.m.), Princeton host league-leading Cornell (4 p.m.) and Harvard host Dartmouth at 4 p.m.