Women's Lacrosse Heads to Cornell for Ivy Showdown

Penn Women's Lacrosse on Twitter | Penn Women's Lacrosse on Facebook

Live Video | Live Stats

No. 8 Penn is used to battles atop the Ivy League as part of five consecutive Ivy championship seasons, and Saturday's game with No. 18 Cornell will be no different. The Quakers and Big Red are two of three teams which enter the weekend at 2-0 inside the Ivy League, and one will gain a half-game lead on Princeton with a win on Saturday (1 p.m.)

Also at stake, a chance to creep closer to a spot in the Ivy League Tournament which awards the automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. With four teams advancing to the Ivy League Tournament, a 3-0 team will be one win away from all but locking up a trip to the conference championships.

First things first, though, and Penn will look to extend its five-game winning streak over the Big Red and make it three in a row in Ithaca. The Quakers are coming off an 11-9 loss to No. 13 Georgetown which saw Penn commit 18 turnovers, many of which were unforced. Ball security is paramount for the Quakers as just 26 of their 66 turnovers this season have been caused by the opposition. 40 unforced turnovers averages out to 6.7 possessions-per-game
being squandered before they even get started.

When the Quakers maintain possession, they have been able to profit at an 82.5% rate with 74 goals on 113 shots on goal. The Quakers have outscored their opponents, 74-60 through six games, and have kept opponents to eight or fewer in three games.

Those numbers will again be tested as the Ivy League's highest-scoring offense lines up on Schoellkopf Field on Saturday. The Big Red have scored 110 goals in seven games, including 22 against Jacksonville on Tuesday. Cornell has scored at least 12 goals in all but one of its games this season, including 21 against Canisius on March 13.

With 110 goals scored as a team, it is natural that Cornell has players atop the individual scoring chart. Jessi Steinberg leads the league with 22 goals while Olivia Knotts is second with 20. The duo is also the top-two in terms of points, with Steinberg at 34 and Knotts at 30.

A key to slowing down Cornell's potent offense will be winning the draw control, something Penn has been doing a great job of all season. Maddie Poplawski has won an Ivy League-leading 31 draws, while the Quakers as a team have controlled 81 draws to 67 by their opponents. Poplawski will likely be matched up with Shannon McHugh on the draws, who ranks third in the Ivy League with 25 draw controls.

Erin Brennan enters the game with a team-high 25 points on 11 goals and 14 assists. She currently sits tied for sixth in career goals by a Quaker with 104 (Lisa Romig '82) and is three behind fifth place. Brennan is all alone in second place on the career assists list with 74.

In Penn's four wins this season, Courtney Tomchik has played a big role in deciding the outcome, scoring the game-winner in three of the four victories. Those three goals are part of 11 on the season for Tomchik, which ranks her third on the team along with Brennan. Maddie Poplawski has 12 goals this season, already surpassing her total from all of 2011. Poplawski is joined by classmates Caroline Bunting (12) and Meredith Cain (team-high 13) atop the goal-scoring chart, while the junior class as a whole has accounted for 53% of Penn's scoring.

Last year, the Quakers defeated Cornell at Franklin Field, 10-6. Eight different players scored for the Quakers, led by Brennan and Poplawski who each had two. Emily Leitner had five saves in the win, including four in the second half as the Quakers scored four of the last five goals in the game to pull away for the victory.