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PHILADELPHIA – No. 12 Penn (4-2, 2-0 Ivy) hits the road this weekend, making its longest road trip of the season as the Quakers head to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt (3-5, 0-1 ALC) on Sunday at 2 p.m. EST.
The Red and Blue will be looking to get back into the win column following a lost to No. 2 Maryland on Wednesday night at Franklin Field. The Quakers were unable to mount much of an attack, falling behind the highly-potent Terrapins in an eventual 15-5 loss. The loss to Maryland makes both of Penn’s defeats in 2014 to the highest of competition, the other a 13-8 defeat at No. 1 North Carolina on March 2.
Last season, the Quakers and Commodores tangled in a back and forth contest in Philadelphia. The Red and Blue led, 11-6, midway through the second half before Vanderbilt mounted a furious comeback to take a 12-11 lead with 3:35 to play. Tory Bensen tied the game with 0:25 left in regulation and Iris Williamson scored twice in overtime in an eventual 14-13 win for the Quakers in the first all-time meeting between the two programs.
Williamson had four goals in the game against the Commodores last season and Bensen finished with three. Entering this weekend’s game, Bensen is the team leader in goals with 15 and her 18 points are most on the club. Williamson is tied for fourth on the squad with five goals, and her nine points are fourth.
Bensen is sixth in the Ivy League in goals and tied for 11th in points, and she is first in the Ancient Eight in free position efficiency at 100% as she is 5-for-5 this season. No other player in the Ivy League who has taken more than two free positions this season has connected on every one of them.
Defender Meg Markham is the Ivy League leader in both major defensive categories with 19 caused turnovers and 23 ground balls. She entered the week leading the nation in ground balls-per-game and fourth in caused turnovers-per-game and has remained in both positions after Wednesday’s game with Maryland.
Vanderbilt is paced offensively by Mallory Schonk who is 13th in the country in assist-per-game with an average of 2.29. She has 16 assists overall in 2014 to go with 13 goals for a team-high 29 points. The sophomore has already bested her assist total from 2013 (10) and is on her way to bettering her 35 points from last season.
Senior Abby Wheeler and sophomore Kelly Chandler share the team lead in goals, each netting 18 this season. For Chandler, it is a career high, topping the 16 she scored in 2013 as a freshman. Wheeler was second on the Commodores in goals last season with 28 as a junior.
Chandler is a player to keep an eye on when it comes to draw controls, her 30 lead the team and are 16 more than the next highest player. Maddie Kratz has appeared in all eight games in goal, posting a 13.55 GAA and making 56 saves while allowing 100 goals against.
Vanderbilt won two of its first three games, scoring 20 goals in each win over Kennesaw St. and Liberty while allowing just 13 combined. Since then, the Commodores have just one win –a 16-15 overtime victory over Stanford – and have lost four games. The last three outings for Vandy have been losses, including an 18-15 overtime loss to Louisville on March 19. The only common opponent for Penn and Vanderbilt this season has been North Carolina. Both teams have lost to the Tar Heels, Vanderbilt by a 22-8 score while Penn hung tight with the defending champs, 13-8.