PHILADELPHIA – Riding a four-game win streak, Penn heads to the top team in the land on Saturday with a road date at No. 1 Maryland the next test awaiting the Quakers. After an 0-3 start, the Red and Blue have won four in a row – including three crucial Ivy League games – and are looking to continue the run of success as the calendar creeps closer to April.
It is no secret why Penn has been able to rattle off four consecutive wins. After scoring just 18 goals over three games to start the season – all losses – the Quakers have scored 52 over their next four games to secure the win in each. Karin Corbett’s squad has needed every one of its goal the last two times out, each a one-goal win in overtime.
After three consecutive games at home, Penn begins a three-game road swing with its trip to College Park. The Quakers are 2-17 all-time against the Terrapins and 0-9 against the Terps in College Park. Penn’s last win against Maryland came in the NCAA Tournament in 2007 – a 9-7 win at Franklin Field. Last year at Franklin Field, the Terrapins outgunned Penn, 14-6, despite a career-high 16 saves from Emily Leitner.
The Quakers are coming off a win inside the Top-10 with their overtime defeat of the Big Red, and are playing at a high level on offense entering their biggest test of the season. After shooting at a rate of .367 (18-for-49) over the first three games of the season, Penn’s attack has shot at a clip of .505 (52-for-103) over its next four. Leading the way over the win streak is Meredith Cain who has 14 points (10 goals, four assists) while shooting .556. Iris Williamson has scored 12 of her team-leading 17 goals over the past four games, connecting at a clip of .571. Shannon Mangini – WomensLax.com National Player of the Week last week after her five-goal game against the Big Red – has scored on eight of her last 12 shots.
The Quakers have been buoyed by fast starts the last four games, outscoring their opponents 30-9 in the first half. Over the last two games, though, large first-half leads have been wasted as opponents have come back to force overtime. Better ball control from the Quakers – who have committed 16 of their 36 turnovers in the past two games in the second half – will help with the holding of leads.
Lucy Ferguson has kept up her play in the cage for the Quakers, ranking first in the Ivy League in save percentage at .471 and second in goals-against average at 9.01. Both of those numbers have her inside the Top 25 among Division I goalkeepers. The defensive effort has been bolstered by Meg Markham’s four caused turnovers and nine ground balls as well as six caused turnovers and 11 ground balls from Maddie Poplawski.
Ferguson and the Penn defense will be tested Saturday by the nation’s No. 1-ranked offense. The Terrapins entered this week scoring 16.6 goals-per-game. Alex Aust is the catalyst for the Terps, leading the country with 74 points over 12 games. She is one of six players already over the 35-point mark this season. Five players are already over the 20-goal mark for the Terps. 2012 Tewaaraton Award winner Katie Schwatzman is second on the team in both goals (33) and assists (15) to provide an impressive second scoring option.
In goal, Kasey Howard is making the most of her first season as starter with an 11-0 record based off a 7.90 GAA. She has made 65 saves, stopping 44% of shots faced. The Terps are not afraid to press the issue on defense, totaling 99 caused turnovers to just 60 from their opponents. Taylor Cummings is a force in the midfield for Maryland, with 11 caused turnovers to go with 55 draw controls.
Maryland is off to its 11-0 start with wins over six Top-20 teams to its credit. Dating back to 2012, Maryland has won 13 consecutive regular season games and 19 out of its last 20 when factoring in the postseason.