Women's Lacrosse Hits the Road for Two this Week

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For the first time since 1996, Penn will take on Lehigh in women’s lacrosse, heading to the Lehigh Valley for a Wednesday tilt with the Mountain Hawks at 7 p.m. The game is the midway point of a three-game road trip for the Quakers, a swing completed in the Big Apple Saturday when the Red and Blue take on Columbia in an Ivy League battle (1 p.m.)

The Quakers enter the week 4-4 overall, winners in four of their last five contests. Penn has only lost once in the last 27 days – a 15-10 defeat at No. 1 Maryland on Saturday. Outside of a rough stretch in the first six minutes against the Terps where Penn gave up the first four goals, the Quakers proved in College Park that they can go toe-to-toe with the top teams in the country. This week will be a chance to not only add a second non-conference win to its resume, but maintain position atop the Ivy League standings heading into the stretch run.

Freshman Iris Williamson leads the Quakers with 21 goals, ranking ninth in the Ivy League. She has scored at least one goal in seven of her eight games this season, with points in every appearance. Penn’s run of good results coincides with her rise to the top of the scoring charts. She has scored four goals in four of the last five games, including 3-for-6 on free positions. Overall, she is 5-for-9 on eight meters, leading the Quakers.

After going without a goal in Penn’s first five games, Courtney Tomchik has found her form of late. Over her last two appearances, she has scored four goals while adding two assists. After finishing second on the team with 33 points last season, Tomchik’s addition of secondary scoring has added to the options Penn has when looking to run offense. Meredith Cain had a five-game goal scoring streak ended Saturday at Maryland, but the senior still ranks second on the club with 12 goals – 11 of which came during that five-game stretch. Cain’s team-high 25 draw controls rank seventh in the Ivy League.

The Quakers own a slim 6-5 edge in the all-time series with the Mountain Hawks, winners of six in a row between 1989-1994 before Lehigh won the last meeting between the two teams in 1996. Penn’s last game against a Patriot League school was a 16-7 win over Colgate in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The Red and Blue’s last regular season game against a Patriot league opponent was a 12-2 win over Lafayette on March 6, 2004.

The Mountain Hawks are sixth in the Patriot League entering the week with a 3-8 overall record and a 1-3 mark in the Patriot League. After wins over Villanova and Binghamton as part of a 2-1 start, the Mountain Hawks have lost seven of their last eight games – the only bright spot a 14-8 win over Bucknell. Last weekend, Lehigh was doubled up by Yale, 16-8 in Bethlehem – a Bulldogs team Penn defeated, 12-8 earlier this season.

Lehigh is averaging just 7.36 goals-per-game, with only three games reaching double figures in goals scored. On the flip side, the Mountain Hawks are allowing 11.91 goals-per-game. Over half of Lehigh’s offense has come from two players – Julie McBrien (24 goals) and Carli Sukonik (20 goals) accounting for 44 of Lehigh’s 81 scores. Sukonik has not played the last two games, however, and her status for Wednesday is uncertain.

Goalkeeper Alexandra Fitzpatrick is one of the busiest keepers in the land, ranking fourth in saves with 102 stops and eighth in saves-per-game at 9.27 through her 11 games. He is making her saves at a rate of 46.8& to rank 15th in the country, but her goals-against average of 11.46 ranks just 64th.

On Saturday, the Quakers will look to keep pace with Dartmouth and Princeton atop the Ivy League table. All three teams enter the weekend with 3-0 records in the Ancient Eight, and each has a League game on Saturday.

The Red and Blue will chase their fourth win in Ivy play against an opponent it has never lost to. Penn is 16-0 all-time against Columbia, and 8-0 in New York City. Last year, the Quakers were explosive on offense to the tune of a 19-8 win at Franklin Field.

The Lions are 2-8 overall and 0-4 in the Ivy League. Last Sunday, the Lions broke an eight-game losing skid with a 16-7 win over Fresno State. Kate Murphy had four goals in the win, while Kelly Beuchel, Kacie Johnson and Ashley Rinere each had three goals. Johnson and Rinere each finished with six points.

Johnson enters the week leading the Ivy League in scoring with 41 points on 33 goals and eight assists. Junior midfielder Paige Cuscovitch has 18 goals this season, but has contributed mightily on the defensive end. She leads the Ivy League in both caused turnovers (30) and ground balls (32). Her 3.0 ground balls-per-game ranks second in the country, while her 3.2 ground balls-per-game is ninth among all Division I players. As a team, Columbia ranks third in ground balls-per-game with 20.9 over its ten games.

The Lions have scored seven goals in five of their ten games, including an 8-7 loss to No. 13 Dartmouth on March 23. Saturday’s game will be the third for the Lions against the three teams tied for first in the Ivy League, in addition to a game with fourth-place Cornell. Both of Columbia’s wins have come at Robert K. Kraft Field this season, where the Lions are 2-3.