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PHILADELPHIA – Winners of nine of its last ten games, No. 16 Penn heads to No. 4 Northwestern this Saturday to conclude the regular season for a 1 p.m. CST matchup.
The Quakers are 9-4 overall this season, and entering off a pair of overtime wins to secure a seventh consecutive Ivy League championship. The Quakers have battled through tough games all season long, posting a 4-0 record in overtime and a 4-1 mark in games decided by just one goal. After an 0-3 start, the Red and Blue have improved to a .692 winning percentage – 18th best in the country.
After averaging 6.0 goals-per-game to start the season, Penn’s offense has warmed up in logical alignment with its winning ways. Over its last ten games, Penn is averaging 12.6 goals-per-game and been in double figures every outing but one. That scoring average if maintained overt an entire season would put Penn in the nation’s Top-25.
Since Penn began its run ten games ago, it’s prowess on attack has come from many players. Meredith Cain and Shannon Mangini have each scored 20 goals over the last ten games, Iris Williamson with 19. Tory Bensen (16), Caroline Bunting (15) and Maddie Poplawski (11) round out the Quakers with 10+ goals since March 9 when Penn won its first game of the season.
Mangini has established herself as a prime time performer for the Quakers, scoring the game-tying goal in both of Penn’s wins last week before going on to score in overtime. The junior has set a career highs with 20 goals and 22 points this season and her three overtime goals are a program record for a single season. On Monday, she was named WomensLax.com National Player of the Week for the second time this season and also earned Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors. One year removed from a devastating knee injury, Tory Bensen has returned to also set career high in both goals (18) and points (19) in her junior season.
Defensively, Meg Markham has been the rock on the back unit for the Red and Blue. The sophomore is third on the team in all three key defensive categories; caused turnovers (11), ground balls (22) and draw controls (25). Her play has helped settle things down in front of Lucy Ferguson, allowing the goalkeeper to rank 15th in the country in save percentage (.462) and 17th in GAA (8.57), numbers which are first and second in the Ivy League, respectively.
Saturday’s game will be five years to the day since the Quakers knocked off No. 1 Northwestern at Franklin Field, 11-7. Since then, the Wildcats have won six in a row in the series. The Quakers will be looking for their first-ever win at Lakeside Field.
Northwestern, the defending national champions, are 13-2 overall this season entering their game Wednesday night at No. 9 Notre Dame. The ‘Cats have yet to be defeated at Lakeside Field in 2013, boasting a 7-0 record at home.
Last time out, Northwestern was throttled by No. 3 Florida in Gainesville, 22-4. Despite 14 shots in the first half, Northwestern managed just two goals while Florida scored on 13 of its 16 shots. In the second half, Northwestern could muster just four total shots while the Gators were successful on nine of 12 shots taken.
2012 Tewaaraton Award winner Taylor Thornton has scored 21 goals this season for the Wildcats, one of four players with 21 or more goals. Erin Fitzgerald leads the team with 48 goals and five assists. Thornton has added 18 caused turnovers to go with 30 draw controls and 30 ground balls.
Alyssa Leonard has won 96 draw controls this season, ranking fourth in the country in that stat. The Wildcats have been dominant on the draw, outdrawing their opponents, 205-142.
In goal, Bridget Blanco had allowed an average of 6.64 goals-per-game entering last weekend’s loss to Florida. Despite allowing all 22 goals, her goals-against average still stands at a miniscule 7.86.