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PHILADELPHIA – No. 15 Penn continues its non-conference slate on Wednesday, hosting Rutgers at Franklin Field at 6 p.m. The Quakers enter the contest with a 1-1 record, while the Scarlet Knights are 3-1 to begin 2014.
Penn moved up in the national rankings this week after putting a scare into defending national champion North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Despite a 13-8 loss to the No. 1 Tar Heels, Penn held a lead on four different occasions – the first time UNC had trailed in a game all season – and played the hosts even well into the second half before a late run put the game out of reach.
Last year, Penn and Rutgers met on an absolutely brutal day weather-wise in New Brunswick. With rain, snow and wind all playing a role in the game, neither team was able to generate much offense. After Rutgers led by just a 2-1 score at halftime, Penn scored the first two goals of the second half to take a 3-2 lead – the only advantage Penn would hold all game. The Scarlet Knights scored the next three goals to take a 5-3 lead and held on for the final score of 6-5.
Overall, Rutgers holds a 10-5 lead in the all-time series. Before the loss last season, Penn had won three in a row in the series.
The Quakers enter the game in the top half of the country defensively, allowing 10.5 goals-per-game over two contests played. That number includes a staunch display against North Carolina last time out as the Quakers held the nation’s top offense to seven goals fewer than its average entering the game.
The defensive unit is hounding the opposition, causing 11.5 turnovers-per-game, good for tops in the Ivy League and 13th among Division I programs. As one would expect, the ground ball numbers are pretty similar. Penn is second in the Ivy League with 22 ground balls-per-game, which also ranks 10th in the nation. Meg Markham’s average of 2.0 caused turnovers-per-game is third among Ivy players and 33rd overall in the country to this point in the season. Allie Martin and Leah McBride are each inside the Ivy top-10 with 1.5 caused turnovers-per-game. Lucy Ferguson and Lindsey Smith are tied for fifth in the Ivy League with 3.0 ground balls-per-game, which is tied for 26th in the country. Lauren D’Amore is ninth in the Ancient Eight at 2.5.
Tory Bensen has been the catalyst on offense for the Quakers to this point in 2014, with eight goals scored over two games. She is already 35% of the way to her career high of 23 goals scored last season and sits two goals away from crossing the 50-goal mark for her career.
Sophomore Lely DeSimone has been a revelation in her second season as a Quaker. After not taking a shot on goal as a freshman, DeSimone has scored four times on six shots on goal this season.
One of DeSimone’s goals this season came via a free position, an area Penn has controlled through two games. The Quakers are 9-for-13 on eight meters to begin the season, with six different players connecting on at least one free position goal. Defensively, Penn has both been stingy on allowing eight meter attempts and then defiant on those taken. The Red and Blue have conceded just five free position attempts through two games, and have yet to allow a goal in those situations.
If there is an area Penn would like to see improvement on, it is the draw control. The Quakers have won 18 over their first two games of the season, led by Meg Markham’s seven. Opponents have won 25, but Penn’s hounding defense which has caused 23 turnovers through two games, has alleviated some of the ball possession concern.
Rutgers is 3-1 with just 24 goals scored over its first four games of 2014. In their three wins, the Scarlett Knights 6.7 goals, highlighted by an eight spot last weekend in an 8-7 win over Delaware. The other wins needed just six goals, a 6-3 victory over Manhattan and a 6-5 win over Fairfield. The lone loss for the Scarlett Knights was an 11-4 loss at Princeton on Feb. 26.
Lauren Sbrilli leads Rutgers with five goals scored. Four other players each have three goals scored through four games. Megan Clements is one of them, adding three assist for a team-high six points.
Amanda Currell has started two games in goal and appeared in all four. Along the way, she has made 32 saves for a .653 save percentage which ranks first in the BIG EAST and fourth overall in Division I. Her goals-against average of 5.61 is second in the BIG EAST and ninth overall in the country.
Download: 2014 Notes.pdf