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PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania women’s lacrosse team will make its ninth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship this weekend when the Quakers take on the University at Albany on May 8 at 2 p.m. The game will take place on the campus of Syracuse University at the Syracuse Soccer Stadium. The winner of Friday’s game will take on the No. 4 seeded Orange on May 10 at 3 p.m.
Penn extended its sixth-longest active run of national tournament appearances with an at-large selection following a 13-4 season and a 6-1 record inside the Ivy League. The Quakers advanced to their third consecutive Ivy League Tournament final, falling to host Princeton in the title game, 14-11.
The Red and Blue will be making their 11thoverall appearance in then national tournament, entering with a 10-10 record all-time in NCAA Tournament contests. The Quakers have reached three Final Four weekends (2007, 2008, 2009) and have appeared in one national championship game (2008). Last year, Penn defeated Canisius in the first round before bowing out of the national tournament at the hands of No. 1 Maryland – the eventual national champion.
The Quakers will be taking on the Great Danes for the first time on Friday, and the Red and Blue do not have much experience against America East programs. Penn is 3-0 all-time against teams in the America East in NCAA Tournament games, but those three wins came against a Boston University program which now competes in the Patriot League. Of the seven teams currently comprising the America East, Penn has yet to play a single one in women’s lacrosse.
Two of the nation’s top scoring defenses will take the field on Friday. Penn enters the national tournament allowing 7.29 goals-per-game which ranks ninth in the nation. Usually, Penn has the best statistical defense in games it plays, but the Great Danes are also staunch on the back end with a third-best 6.44 goals-allowed per game this season. There are only two programs in all of Division I which have allowed one or fewer goals on multiple occasions this season – they will line up opposite each other on Friday.
Not that the two teams are incapable of putting the ball in the net, though. Penn is averaging 10.47 goals-per-game while the Great Danes are sixth in the country in scoring offense with 14.44 goals-per-game.
The Quakers are led by the Ivy League’s Attacker of the Year in Tory Bensen. She has scored 51 goals this season, a new career high and the second-most in a single season by a Quaker. For Albany, Dakotah Savitcheff is fourth in the country with 64 goals this season. Rachel Bowles is 17th among all players with 53 goals.
Penn will set up the Ivy League’s top defense to try and shut down the Great Danes. Meg Markham, two-time Ivy League Defender of the Year and a three-time first-team All-Ivy defender has ably replicated her first-team All-America season from 2014 and has again earned a spot among the 25 nominees for the Tewaaraton Award as college lacrosse’s top player. She is third in the country with 2.59 caused turnovers-per-game this season. Her 44 caused turnovers are more than double the second-best total among Ivy League players – her teammate Megan Kelly who has 21. Senior Taylor Foussadier recently was named second-team All-Ivy, the third All-Ivy selection of her career. Midfielder Lely DeSimone is a crucial two-way player for the Quakers, picking up second-team All-Ivy honors this season.
The defensive unit stands in front of one of the country’s elite goalkeepers in Lucy Ferguson. The senior has been named first-team All-ivy each of the last three years and is one of two keepers on the Tewaaraton Award nominee list. She is sixth in the nation in save percentage (.489) and ninth in goals-against average (7.20), leading the Ivy League in both categories.
While Savitcheff and Bowles have led the Great Danes in goal scoring, it was Maureen Keggins who picked up America East Offensive Player of the Year honors. The senior attacker leads the country with 94 points this season. Her 58 assists are most among any Division I player and she has added 36 goals. In her final season, Keggins has exploded offensively, bypassing her three-year total of 78 points entering her senior campaign.
Defensively, first-team All-America East selection Erin Monna leads the group with 17 caused turnovers and 21 ground balls. Eight Great Danes have double digits in caused turnovers. Courtney Henderson, a first-team All-America East honoree in goal, has the nation’s third-best GAA at 6.48 and is 14-4 this season.
The Great Danes are 14-4 overall this season and went 5-1 in American East competition. They advanced to the America East championship game, losing to No. 6 Stony Brook, 11-8. The Great Danes and Quakers have played three common opponents – all Ivy teams. Albany defeated Cornell (12-11), Brown (15-4) and Dartmouth (10-5), and Penn went 4-0 against those teams during the season.
Download: Penn NCAA Tournament Notes.pdf