There's No Place Like Home

[4] Penn vs. [1] Northwestern
NCAA Semifinals
Friday, May25 -6 p.m. - Franklin Field

Tickets - Live Audio - Bracket

Game Notes In PDF Format

A storybook season has all led up to this. This weekend, Penn finally gets the opportunity it dreamed of all season long, playing in its first-ever NCAA final four on its home turf at Franklin Field. In the way will be two-time defending national champion Northwestern—the only team to blemish the Quakers’ otherwise perfect season.

The Comeback Kids
Down 4-0 to Maryland in the early going of last Saturday’s NCAA quarterfinal, the outlook seemed bleak for Penn. The Quakers, however outscored the Terps 9-3 the rest of the way to win, including five unanswered goals to open the second half. Sophomore Becca Edwards had and equally frustrating and fantastic day, hitting three posts and missing two crossbars by inches, but scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals. Penn entered the second half down 5-3, but by 14:17 of the second half, the Quakers held a three-goal lead. Melissa Lehman and Allison Ambrozy each scored a pair as the Quakers neutralized Maryland’s biggest weapon, Tewaaraton finalist Dana Dobbie, holding her to a single goal. Perhaps the most critical player on the field for Penn was defender Hilary Renna. The sophomore had three ground balls and two caused turnovers, and held Maryland’s leading scorer, Krista Pellizzi, to just a single shot and no points.

There’s No Place Like Home
For Penn, hosting the NCAA championship has been a motivating factor ever since the team learned it would be the host near the end of the 2006 season. Penn now has the rarest of opportunities with a chance to compete for an NCAA title at home, something that has happened seven times in the tournament’s history, most recently at Princeton in 2004. Maryland was the last team to win the title at home, in 1995.

There’s A First Time For Everything
The Quakers are making their first-ever trip to the final four. They are the first team from Penn to make an NCAA final four since men’s lacrosse and field hockey both did it in 1988. Interestingly enough, Franklin Field was the host site for the 1988 field hockey championship—the last Penn women’s team in a final four.

Welcome Back
Franklin Field is hosting the NCAA women’s lacrosse championship for the second time, having also held it in 1983. The nation’s oldest college stadium also held the men’s championships in 1973 and 1992, while Penn served as the host institution for the 2005 and 2006 men’s championships held at Lincoln Financial Field in south Philadelphia. Opened in 1895, Franklin Field has hosted lacrosse games since the men’s team began play in 1900, making it the oldest collegiate lacrosse stadium in the country.

It’s Been Awhile
Let’s put it this way — the last time Penn made the NCAA tournament, as an at-large selection in 1984, not a single member of the 2007 team was alive yet (seniors Sarah Eastburn and Chrissy Muller were the only two evenborn later that year). This is Penn’s third-ever NCAA appearance, having also been in it in 1983, and first appearance in the semifinals. The Quakers competed in the AIAW tournament, the precursor to the NCAA Championship, in 1980 and 1982, reaching the final four both times.

Noting the Quarterfinals vs. Maryland
Penn beat Maryland for the first time since 1983 and only second time overall ... Penn has never reached the NCAA final four, but did make the final four of the AIAW tournament twice, in 1980 and 1982 ... Penn will be the first team to play in the final four at home since Princeton in 2004. The Tigers lost to Virginia, 10-4, in the national final ... Becca Edwards took 11 shots, including three pipes and two that missed the crossbar by inches ... Sarah Waxman saved seven and allowed seven ... Penn allowed fewer than 10 goals for the 15th time in 17 games ... Penn held Maryland, which was averaging 14.25 goals per game, to its second-lowest total of the season ... Krista Pellizzi and Dana Dobbie, who were averaging 3.8 and 3.45 points per game, respectively, were held to a combined one goal on four shots.

Noting the First Round vs. Boston University
The game was the first-ever meeting between Penn and BU ... Penn won its first NCAA game since beating Loyola in the 1983 first round, 9-5 ... The game was the first-ever non-soccer event held at Rhodes Field ... It was also the first NCAA home game for any Penn sport since men’s soccer lost to Seton Hall in the 2002 first round at Rhodes Field ... Rachel Manson broke the career 100-point mark and is the third Quaker in the past two seasons to do so. Emily Cochran C’06 and current senior Chrissy Muller did it last year ... Ali DeLuca broke the Penn freshman record with her 32nd and 33rd goals, breaking the 27-year-old record set by Sherry Marcantonio in 1980 ... The Penn defense has held opponents to five or fewer goals in eight of its 15 games this year ... Penn lowered its goals-allowed average, which was already second in the nation, to 6.25 goals per game ... Sophomore defender Hilary Renna, a Tewaaraton nominee for her defensive skill, got her first career point with an assist in the second half ... BU failed to convert any of its seven free-position opportunities ... It was only the third time this season that Penn had given up more shots in a game.

Noting Northwestern
The Wildcats have won the last two NCAA titles ... Northwestern has a mind-boggling 334 goals this year while allowing only 120 ... Four players have 74 or more points - Hannah Nielson (113), Hilary Bowen (87), Kristen Kjellman (85) and Meredith Frank (74) ... Both Nielson and Kjellman are Tewaaraton finalists ... Northwestern also has the nation’s top defense, allowing only 5.95 goals per game (Penn’s is second with 6.29) ... Goalie Morgan Lathrop has led the nation as well, allowing just 5.74 goals per game and saving 58.6 percent of shots faced ... The NU defense has allowed 10 goals just once in 20 games this year, in a 18-10 win against Notre Dame on March 1 ... Northwestern’s only loss was in its season opener on Feb. 17, 9-8, at North Carolina in double-OT.

Edwards Earns National Player of the Week Honors
For her game-winning performance against Maryland, sophomore Becca Edwards was named the national player of the week by on Monday.

DeLuca Named Ivy League Rookie of the Year
When freshman Ali DeLuca scored three goals and an assist in her collegiate debut against Drexel back on Feb. 24, the future looked bright for the middie. DeLuca has not disappointed since, racking up 34 goals and eight assists en route to being unanimously named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. DeLuca broke the Penn freshman goals record of 31 set by all-time leading scorer Sherry Marcantonio in 1980 when she scored a pair against BU in the first round last Sunday.

Eight Earn All-Ivy Honors
Penn was well-represented on the 2007 All-Ivy teams, with eight of its 12 starters earning spots. Chrissy Muller, Hilary Renna and Sarah Waxman were unanimous first-team choices, while Ali DeLuca, Rachel Manson and Karen Jann earned second-team distinction. Honorable mentions went to Becca Edwards and Melissa Lehman. The eight players selected was the most for Penn since 1988.

Renna Named Tewaaraton Nominee
Sophomore defender Hilary Renna has been named one of 17 nominees for the Tewaaraton Award, the honor given to college lacrosse’s best player. While Renna didn’t make the five-member finalist list, she is still the first Tewaaraton nominee in program history and one of three Ivy players on the shortlist. A speedy defender, Renna has been charged with guarding some of the nation’s most dangerous attackers. She held Yale’s Lauren Taylor and Johns Hopkins’ Mary Key, the two leading scorers in the nation, to just a goal each, and held Maryland’s Krista Pellizzi without a goal in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Penn has won its last 13 in a row, the longest win streak in program history. The Quakers’ win at Brown on April 21 broke a 25-year-old record of nine wins in a row set during Penn’s 1982 Ivy League championship campaign.

In the Rankings
Penn is ranked second in the nation in the most recent STX/IWLCA coaches’ poll. The ranking is the highest in the history of the poll dating back to 1988. The Quakers are also ranked third in the Inside Lacrosse media poll. Penn began the season ranked 20th in the coaches’ and 18th in the media poll. Northwestern is the consensus number one team in both polls.

Moving On Up
A trio of Quakers are marking their spots in the program’s record book. Chrissy Muller has 71 career assists and is in second place all-time. Muller is also now third with 148 career points and seventh with 81 career goals. Meanwhile, junior Rachel Manson also has 81 career goals, and her 36 tallies this season are sixth-best in program history.

Stifling Defense
Penn’s defense has been a major component of its success this year. The Quakers backline, along with goalkeeper Sarah Waxman, has held opponents to just 6.29 goals per game, second-best in the country. Penn has allowed 10 or more goals only twice this year, and has held its opponent to five or fewer a remarkable eight times in 17 games. Twice the Quaker D has worked shutouts in the first half (at Harvard, 10-0, and at Brown, 3-0).

Waxman Among National Leaders
Goalie Sarah Waxman is second in the nation behind Northwestern’s Morgan Lathrop with a 6.15 goals-against average. Waxman is also sixth in the country in save percentage with a .536 mark.

All In the Family
Freshman Barb Seaman has undoubtedly heard a story or two about the final four. That’s because her father, Tony Seaman, was the last person to coach a Penn team to the NCAA semifinals when he guided the men’s lacrosse program there in 1988. Seaman, now the head men’s coach at Towson, will have to be content to watch his daughter’s team on Friday; his Tigers fell out of this year’s tournament in the first round. His son, Greg, also made this year’s tournament playing with Princeton.

All In the Family, Part II
Junior Chelsea Kocis also has a brother who played in this year’s NCAA tournament. Scott Kocis plays for Georgetown, which made the quarterfinals, and scored a goal against Princeton in the first round before the Hoyas got bumped by Johns Hopkins last weekend.

All In the Family, Part III
Singing the national anthem before the Penn-Northwestern game will be Natalie Cochran, sister of Penn alumna Emily Cochran C’06. Cochran is a student at the prestigious University of Michigan School of Music, and has performed at numerous sporting events in the Detroit area including Tigers and Pistons games. In March, the West Bloomfield, Mich., native performed the anthem before the final day of the NCAA Wrestling Championships at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Penn senior Matt Valenti won the national title that evening.

Next Time Out
The winner of Penn/Northwestern will face the winner of Duke/Virginia in the national final on Sunday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on CSTV.

Download: wlax notes nw.pdf