PHILADELPHIA - The road to the 2011 Ivy League Women's Lacrosse Tournament title once again goes through Franklin Field and the Penn Quakers this weekend as the Red and Blue host the second installment of the tournament starting May 6 with two semifinals and continuing with the championship game May 8 at 1 p.m.
The Quakers, who earned the top seed with a 6-1 record inside the Ancient Eight and a win over co-champion Dartmouth, play No. 4 seed Princeton at 7 p.m. on Friday after second-seeded Dartmouth takes on third seed Harvard at 4 p.m.
Penn enters Championship Weekend ranked No. 7 in the country after a 13-10 win over then-No. 4 Duke last weekend. Overall, Penn posted an 11-4 record and has a chance to cross one team off of its "revenge list" in the semifinal against Princeton.
The Tigers ended Penn's 34-game Ivy League winning streak with an 11-7 win at Franklin Field on April 20, Penn's first loss to an Ivy team since April 19, 2006 - also against the Tigers. The Red and Blue aren't the only team with a loss to avenge in Friday's game, though. Last year, Penn knocked Princeton out of the Ivy League Tournament with a 13-9 win in the semifinals.
Ali DeLuca was a force in the game for the Quakers, recording eight points on four goals and four assists. While DeLuca has since graduated, Erin Brennan returns for the Red and Blue and is looking to again make her mark in the Ivy League Tournament.
Last year, Brennan had four goals in the semifinals against Princeton and six total points in the two games as she was named to the All-Tournament Team. For the junior who was named unanimous first-team All-Ivy this week, the game against Princeton on Friday serves as a chance to remedy a zero-point performance in the loss two-plus weeks ago. That should not be difficult for Brennan to do, however, as she normally lights up the Tigers. The loss 16 days ago removed from the equation, Brennan has scored 10 goals and 13 total points in her career against Princeton.
Giulia Giordano is Penn's other returning All-Tournament performer from the 2010 Tournament. She had two assists in the semis against Princeton and added two more points in the final against Dartmouth. This year, Giordano has moved away from the goal to patrol the midfield for the Quakers, harassing opposing attackers into turning the ball over with a team-leading 19 caused turnovers and 28 ground balls. Giordano is still a threat on offense if called upon, tying for third on the team with 17 goals and 25 points.
Penn's most efficient shooter this season has been Bridget Waclawik. The senior has 17 goals on 29 total shots, for a shooting percentage of .586. Overall, 27 of her 29 shots have reached goal - good for 93% as Waclawik has become a go-top performer in clutch situations with three game-winning goals. Another player who has made the most of her shots has been Meredith Cain. She has landed 94% of her shots on goal (31-for-33) and 15 of those have found the back of the cage. Cain is one of two sophomores who made the proverbial "leap" in 2011, joined by Caroline Bunting. For Cain, her 15 goals more than tripled her 2010 total of four. Bunting, who had five goals and six points in 2010, is second on the team with 18 goals and 26 points.
The Red and Blue once again claimed an Ivy title and spent the season inside the Top 10 with a stingy defense. As a team, the Quakers allowed 8.07 goals-per-game which is the lowest inside the Ancient Eight and fifth-best team defense in the country. The tough defense is needed for the Quakers as the offense enters ranked as the seventh-best in the Ivy League, scoring 9.27 goals-per-game. Only eight times in 15 games has Penn scored 10 or more goals, while the Red and Blue have limited teams to nine or fewer goals in 11 of 14 games.
No. 15 Princeton ended the regular season with a 9-6 record and went 5-2 inside the Ivy League. Lizzy Drumm is second in the Ivy League in goals with 39 and she is tied with teammate Cassie Pyle with 42 points. In their last two outings, the Tigers have outscored their opponents by a 37-20 margin in a pair of big victories. The final game of the regular season saw Princeton down No. 13 Penn State, 19-10, as Drumm and Pyle combined for nine goals.
In goal, two of the Ivy League's finest are slated to duel. For Penn, Emily Leitner is tied for the lead in goals-against average at 8.09. Princeton's Erin Tochihara is third at 10.10. In terms of save percentage, Tochihara has made 140 saves on 292 shots (.479) while Leitner has made 97 saves on 217 shots (.447) as both are inside the top half of Ivy keepers. Both were recently named All-Ivy, with Leitner named to the second team and Tochihara an honorable mention selection.
Three of the four teams competing in the 2011 Ivy League Women's Lacrosse Tournament are returning for the second year as Penn, Princeton and Dartmouth all qualified in 2010. Only Harvard is new to the tournament in 2011 after a 5-2 season and third-place finish inside the League. The Quakers are the defending champions, having defeated Dartmouth, 9-8, in the title game on May 2, 2010.
2011 Ivy League Women's Lacrosse Tournament
Semifinals - May 6
Semifinal #1 - #2 Dartmouth vs. #3 Harvard (4 p.m.)
Semifinal #2 - #1 Penn vs. #4 Princeton (7 p.m.)
Live Video Live Stats
Finals - May 8
Semifinal #1 Winner vs. Semifinal #2 Winner (1 p.m.)
Championship Game televised live on CBS Sports Network