PHILADELPHIA - With a 6-0 record and a No. 4 national ranking through the first third of the 2011 season, Penn takes its talents to national television on Wednesday for a 5 p.m. tilt with host Johns Hopkins live on ESPNU.
The Quakers, one of seven undefeated teams left in Division I, will bring the nation's third-best scoring defense to Baltimore for the game, allowing a paltry 6.00 goals-per-game over the opening six contests of 2011. The Red and Blue's stingy defense will be tested by a Hopkins attack which has produced an average of 12.57 goals-per-game.
Standing tall between the pipes through the first six starts of her career has been Emily Leitner for the Quakers. The junior has played every minute this season for the Red and Blue in goal and has a 6.00 goals-against average to match her team's defensive average. That 6.00 GAA is the lowest in the nation, and matched with her sixth-ranked save percentage of .520 makes her unquestionably one of the premier keepers in the country through the opening games of the season.
Leitner will be opposed in net by Cosette Larash from Johns Hopkins. She has posted a 7.86 GAA over seven games this season while leading the Blue Jays to a 4-3 record. She will be looking to erase the memory of a rough game against Penn in 2010 where she was pulled after allowing eight goals on 11 shots in 26:01 of playing time.
The Red and Blue were all-inclusive in their attack against Johns Hopkins last March at Franklin Field, with five different players scoring two goals and seven recording a point. Erin Brennan, Ali DeLuca, Maddie Poplawski, Giulia Giordano and Bridget Waclawik each had two goals in the win with Emma Spiro adding the other goal. Emily Szelest was a force in goal, making 11 saves in the eventual 11-7 win. Penn had to hold on for a while in the win, though, as an 8-2 halftime lead for the Red and Blue was put in danger during a hot start to the second half by JHU.
The Quakers are looking to increase their offensive output as the midway point of the season looms. After starting the season with 12 and 11 goals in the first two games, Penn has failed to reach double digits in its last four outings.
Brennan is pacing the offense with 15 points on ten goals and five assists. She is the only Penn player above the 10-goal mark so far this season, with Giordano (nine) and Caroline Bunting (eight) close by. Maddie Poplawski, a player who had 21 goals last year in her freshman season, has just four goals to this point in the season, but has stepped up her all-around game with 14 draw controls and 11 ground balls - both of which lead the team.
For the Blue Jays, three players are into double figures in goals, led by Colleen McCaffrey who has 16. She is joined by Taylor D'Amore with 13 and Candace Rossi who has 12 atop the goal-scoring charts. Overall, 15 different players have scored JHU's 88 goals this season. Penn's attackers will have to contend with Alyssa Kildare on the defensive end for Hopkins. She has 19 ground balls, 12 draw controls and 11 caused turnovers this season for the Blue Jays, making life difficult in all three zones for opposing teams.