PHILADELPHIA - No. 14 Penn steps out of conference play for the final time in the 2010 regular season on Wednesday evening, hosting Penn State at Rhodes Field at 7:30 p.m.
The Quakers, 11-2-0 overall on the season, have posted a stellar 7-2-0 record in non-conference matches. The seven wins are the most in non-Ivy matches since the 2005 club also had seven wins outside the Ancient Eight.
Penn is positioned atop the Ivy League standings alongside Princeton, both clubs a perfect 4-0-0. While the Quakers are focused heavily on securing the Ivy title, there is RPI positioning at stake on Wednesday when Penn State comes to town.
The Quakers are ranked No. 25 in the latest RPI released on Oct. 18. The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 20 with a 9-5-1 record overall and 2-2-1 in the always challenging Big Ten. When it comes time for a potential NCAA Tournament seeding, wins over opponents high in the RPI ranking will benefit the Quakers greatly.
Wednesday's match is slated to be a clash of styles as Penn boasts the fifth-best team defense in the nation, allowing a paltry 0.45 goals-per-game while the Nittany Lions are scoring 2.13 goals-per-game. The Quakers are in the midst of a streak of not allowing a goal over 485:52 of game time while Penn State has scored in all 15 matches in 2010.
Breaking down the battle individually, Penn's goalkeeper Ben Berg ranks fourth in country in save percentage at .889. He is also seventh in goals-against average (0.45). He is just one of three keepers in the top seven to play in every one of his team's minutes. Berg will be called upon to face his stiffest challenge of the season in Penn State's junior forward Corey Hertzog. A second-team All-Big 10 selection in 2009, Hertzog is the NCAA leader in points (32) and goals (14) this season. He has five game-winning goals, and 10 more goals than the second-place scorer on PSU. If Hertzog is the primary striker on the Nittany Lions, Matheus Braga is his playmaker. Braga has 12 assists this season, coming off a 2009 campaign where he was a unanimous first-team All-Big 10 selection and second-team All-Region.
Penn has benefited from a balanced scoring attack of late, with six different players scoring over the last five matches. Stephen Baker still holds the team-lead with 16 points, but has gone five contests without a point.
No. 14 Penn (11-2-0, 4-0-0 Ivy) vs. Penn State (9-5-1, 2-2-1 Big 10)
Wednesday, October 27 - 7:30 p.m. at Rhodes Field
All-Time Series: Penn State leads, 19-6-2
Last Meeting: Penn State 5, Penn 0 - Sept. 30, 2009 at Penn State
The Nittany Lions exploded for four goals in the second half to blow open a close match in State College. Jason Yeisley had two goals and Corey Hertzog had two assists for Penn State as the Lions outshot Penn, 23-5.
Notes on Penn: The Quakers enter the match on a streak of 485:52 without allowing a goal ... The streak has spanned parts of six matches, dating back to the second half of Penn's 2-1 win over Richmond (9/26) ... Ben Berg has seven shutouts in 2010, tied for fifth-most by a Penn keeper in a single season ... Berg's five shutouts in a row are second-most in a single-season, trailing Drew Healy's seven in 2008 ... Penn has equaled or better its opponent in shots on goal in 10-of-13 matches in 2010 and six in a row.
Notes on Penn State: The Nittany Lions are looking to win back-to-back matches for the fifth time in 2010 ... Of PSU's nine wins, five have come via shutout ... Penn State has not been shut out at all this season ... The Nittany Lions are 4-1-1 away from State College in 2010.