PHILADELPHIA - Three-time defending Ivy League champion Penn will begin its quest for a fourth Ivy crown ranked No. 3 in the nation in the IWLCA Division I Preseason Poll released on Tuesday. This marks the highest ranking the Quakers have entered a season with. The previous high was No. 5 in 2009.
The Quakers received 354 votes to slide in behind unanimous No. 1 Northwestern (400 votes) and No. 2 Maryland (376 votes) in the first poll of the season. North Carolina (345 votes) and Duke (313 votes) round out the top five.
The Ancient Eight has four programs ranked in the top 20. Including the Quakers, No. 9 Princeton, No. 15 Dartmouth and No. 19 Cornell all find themselves ranked to begin the 2010 season. A fifth Ivy school - Harvard - is listed in the Also Receiving Votes group.
The Quakers have advanced to the NCAA Final Four the previous three seasons, reaching the national title game in 2008. Last season, Penn was eliminated in the national semifinals in double overtime by eventual champion Northwestern, 13-12.
This season, Penn will challenge itself against the best teams in the country, squaring off with six of the top 20 teams in the opening poll. Three of those games are non-conference games against the three schools also found at the top of the poll - home against No. 1 Northwestern on April 9 at and No. 2 Maryland on April 2 with both games starting at 7 p.m. In addition, Penn will travel to No. 4 North Carolina March 6 at 1 p.m. The Red and Blue also have road trips scheduled to play the three other Ivies in the top 20. Penn heads to No. 19 Cornell on March 28 at 1 p.m. before back-to-back away contests at No. 15 Dartmouth (April 17 at noon) and No. 9 Princeton (April 21 at 7 p.m.)
IWLCA Division I Preseason Poll (9 Feb 2010)
4. North Carolina
8. Notre Dame
12. Boston University
16. Ohio State
18. Penn State
20. William and Mary
Also receiving votes: Boston College, Denver, Fairfield, Harvard, New Hampshire