PHILADELPHIA At 9-1, the No. 11 Penn women’s lacrosse team is off to its best start in program history. Now, midway through the season, the Quakers hope to finish the season as strongly as it began.
It will be the beginning of the end of Ivy play for the Quakers (9-1, 3-0 Ivy) Saturday as they travel to Cambridge to face Harvard at 1 p.m. It will be the first of four straight Ancient Eight games, the last four of the season for Penn.
Winners of six in a row, the Quakers are coming off a 2-0 week that saw them take out Columbia, 14-6, before thrashing No. 10 Penn State, 16-5, on Tuesday.
A SEASON FOR THE RECORD BOOKS At 9-1, Penn is off to its best start in program history. The Quakers are also 3-0 in the Ivy League, which they have never done in official League play (which began in 1980), but did do against Ivy members in 1977. Should Penn beat Harvard to go to 10-1, it would equal the team’s win total from a year ago with four games to go (Penn is playing 15 games, one fewer than last year).
IN THE RANKINGS Penn is ranked 11th in this week’s IWLCA coaches’ poll and 12th in the Inside Lacrosse media poll. The Quakers have knocked off three ranked opponents this season No. 18 Yale, No. 12 Johns Hopkins, and No. 11 Penn State.
WITH HONORS Defender Hilary Renna was named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week on Monday for the second time this season. She was instrumental in Penn’s 12-4 win over Johns Hopkins last week, in which Renna held the nation’s leading scorer, Mary Key, to a single goal. Meanwhile, Head Coach Karin Brower was named the US Lacrosse Coach of the Week on Monday for the first time in her career.
THE BEST OFFENSE... - Penn’s backline has been superb this season, but has been especially dominant in its last three games. The Quakers have not surrendered more than six goals in any of those games, and have held opponents to six or fewer goals in five of the last six games. The defense has also contributed to the offensive effort at Penn State, defenders Sarah Eastburn, Karen Jann and Tarah Kirnan combined for eight of Penn’s 14 draw controls.
A HAT TRICKOF HAT TRICKS Ali DeLuca, Chrissy Muller and Rachel Manson all turned in hat tricks against the Nittany Lions, with Muller and DeLuca also notching five-point games. It was nothing out of the ordinary for the trio, who lead the Quakers with 28, 27 and 27 points, respectively.
BETWEEN THE PIPES Sarah Waxman has had a standout junior year, and it is being reflected in the national rankings. Through games as of April 1, Waxman is allowing just 5.97 gpg, third in the nation, and has a .558 save percentage, good for seventh in the country. Waxman improved on both of those statistics against Penn State, lowering her GAA to 5.87 and raising her save percentage to .563.
MOVING ON UP A trio of Quakers are marking their spots in the program’s record book. Chrissy Muller has 58 career assists and is three shy of Lisa Romig’s 61helpers for second place all-time. Muller is also fifth with 128 career points and sixth in career goals with 74. Meanwhile, junior Rachel Manson is also moving up the goals list with her 66 career tallies, good for 11th. Freshman Ali DeLuca, who has 22 goals, has a shot to break the 27-year old freshman goals record of 31,set by Penn’s all-time leading scorer, Sherry Marcantonio, in 1980.
THE SERIES Harvard leads the series all-time, 17-12. Penn has won the last six and nine of the last 11.
END OF THE ROAD The Harvard game will be the last of a four-game road swing for Penn which began back on March 28 with a visit to Johns Hopkins. The Quakers have gone 3-0 on their current road trip. Penn will play its first home game in 21 days on April 14 against Dartmouth.
ONE TO WATCH A critical game in the Ivy race will happen in New Haven on Saturday as No. 15 Yale hosts No. 9 Princeton at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs already have a win over Dartmouth, while Princeton is 1-0 in the League. A Yale win would put Penn in full control of its own destiny in the Ivy title race. In other Ivy action, Columbia visits Brown at noon and Dartmouth hosts Cornell at 1 p.m.