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PHILADELPHIA - There aren't many elite women's lacrosse programs that Penn hasn't crossed paths with over recent years as the Quakers have vaulted themselves to the top of Division I, but the Red and Blue will add another challenging opponent on Wednesday when the eighth-ranked Quakers host No. 13 Georgetown at Franklin Field (7 p.m.)
The first meeting is an important one as the two teams are jockeying for position among the top ten programs this season. Penn has won three in a row after a loss to No. 2 North Carolina, while the Hoyas recently broke a three-game losing streak with a 9-8 win over the Tar Heels.
Over its three-game win streak, Penn is averaging 13.7 goals-per-game, well above its average of 9.2 from 2011.It seems as if every game finds a new offensive star for the Quakers, with four players already in double figures and a fifth hovering at nine goals. Last time out, sophomore Shannon Mangini had her best game as a collegian, with career highs in goals (4) and points (5). She already has seven points in five games this season after just three during her freshman season.
Balance is the name of the game for Penn overall, as the Quakers are just one of 17 teams in Division I to be ranked inside the Top-30 in both scoring offense (26th) and scoring defense (29th). The Red and Blue are allowing an average of just 9.8 goals-per-game, giving themselves a scoring margin of 3.2 goals-per-game. That margin of victory is also ranked 26th in the country.
Erin Brennan is 11th in the nation in points-per-game, with an average of 4.6 points every time she steps on the field. Her 13 assists in five games are tied for 23rd among all players, and she has played the fewest amount of games of players inside the top-23, positioning herself eighth in assist-per-game.
An area where Penn has improved this season is on the draw. The Quakers are averaging 13.8 draws-per-game, good for 28th among all Division I teams. Last year, Penn averaged 10.1 draws each time out. The Quakers are in turn gaining nearly three extra possessions a game and making the most of them.
Emily Leitner has held opponents under eight goals in three of her five outings this season, and is averaging 6.9 saves-per-game. Penn has been holding its opponents to 20.4 shots-per-game this season, but that number can be expected to grow when the highly-potent Georgetown attack arrives at Franklin Field on Wednesday.
The Hoyas are taking 34.7 shots-per-game, and have scored 71 goals. Dina Jackson has taken 29 of Georgetown's 208 shots and scored on 12 of them to lead the team in scoring. A second-team All-BIG EAST selection last season, Jackson is already halfway to her scoring totals from last season. Sophia Thomas and Hannah Franklin provide secondary scoring for the Hoyas, each with nine goals. Barb Black had six saves in the win, including five in the second half.
Thomas is the reigning BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year and a third-team All-American from last season. She is back to her usual ways in the middle of the field, supporting her scoring output with 10 caused turnovers and 10 ground balls. Franklin had 17 goals in her freshman season last year and is already halfway to that mark in her second season. Garden City, N.Y. native Carolina Tarzian has eight goals and 10 points to begin her collegiate career.
Kelly Barnes is a factor on defense for Georgetown, leading the team with 11 caused turnovers and 18 ground balls. Her partner on the back end, Ashley Hunter, has seven caused turnovers and 10 ground balls. Goalkeeper Barb Black is in her second season as starter and the sophomore has a GAA of 10.50 and has registered 26 saves for a save percentage of .306 in her six games.
Last time out, Georgetown ended a three-game skid with a 9-8 win over North Carolina. The Hoyas trailed, 8-5, with 15 minutes remaining, but scored the final four goals of the game for the win. Sophia Thomas netted the game-winner with 2:42 remaining, while Hannah Franklin had four goals.