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PHILADELPHIA – Penn and Dartmouth. Dartmouth and Penn. If it seems like the last four seasons have come down to these two teams in a battle for an Ivy League title, that is because the facts speak for themselves.
The Quakers are winners of at least a share of six consecutive Ivy League championships – the longest active conference title streak in the nation. The only shared title in that run was with Dartmouth in 2011 when both teams finished 6-1 in the Ancient Eight. In fact, since 2009 the Quakers and Big Green are the only two Ivy teams to finish in the top three of the League standings and the two programs are the only Ivy schools to qualify for all three Ivy League Tournaments.
Last season, Dartmouth was the only Ivy team to put a loss on the Quakers, with a regular-season win in Hanover and then a come-from-behind win in the championship game of the Ivy League Tournament on Dunning-Cohen Champions Field at Penn Park. In a low-scoring affair, Penn had a 3-0 lead midway through the first half, but went cold for the next 43:48 of game play as Dartmouth took the game with a 6-4 win.
Dunning-Cohen Champions Field will again be the site of a Penn-Dartmouth game as the Quakers vacate their usual home turf on Franklin Field for the University’s annual Spring Fling weekend. Overall in Philadelphia, the Quakers have won four out of the last five against the Big Green and are 7-10 overall.
Friday is Senior Day for the Quakers, and the four quad-captains – Caroline Bunting, Meredith Cain, Kelly McCallion and Maddie Poplawski – will be honored before the game for their careers. This group enters the weekend with a 41-22 record overall and a 23-2 mark in Ivy League regular season contest, including an 11-1 record in home games. During their freshmen season, the Class of 2013 was a part of Penn’s fourth consecutive outright Ivy League championship and tied a program record with 19 games played, including 15 wins – tied for third-most by any Penn team.
One of those seniors, Meredith Cain, enters Senior Day with the team lead in scoring with 26 points. Her nine assists lead the team, while her 17 goals rank second on the squad. In addition, she has been huge on the draw for the Quakers, winning 28 to pace the team. After a slow start to the season, Cain has scored 14 goals over the past six games, including a pair of four-goal games. She is the leading scorer among the Class of 2013, entering Friday’s game with 75 goals and 24 assists for 99 career points.
The Red and Blue have been winning games with defense – allowing the second-fewest goals among Ivy teams with 92. Lucy Ferguson leads the Ivy League in save percentage at .468 and is second in goals-against average at 9.01 with a League-best 8.00 saves-per-game. Those three numbers rank 14th, 21st and 23rd among all Division I keepers. In the midfield, Maddie Poplawski has been aiding the defensive cause with a team-high 10 caused turnovers and 16 groundballs while Meg Markham has been leading the defense with eight caused turnovers and 14 groundballs.
An X-factor for the Quakers has been the play of Courtney Tomchik of late. The attacker was held without a goal in the first five games of the season, but in her last four appearances she has scored two goals in each game while adding four assists. The hot streak has pushed her to a tie for fifth on the team in scoring.
The Big Green enter with an 8-3 record overall to go with its 4-0 mark in the Ancient Eight. Dartmouth dropped out of the IWLCA Coaches Poll despite wins in four out of its last five games – including a 9-5 win over No. 16 Cornell last weekend. Hana Bowers had four goals in the win for the Big Green, earning Co-Ivy League Player of the Week honors. Kristen Giovanello had ten saves, picking up Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Bowers leads the team with 28 goals, joined by Liz Calby (20) as 20-goal scorers for the Big Green. Dartmouth has scored 108 goals in its 11 games, ranking seventh in the Ivy League in goals-per-game. Defensively, Dartmouth has three players with double figures in caused turnovers, led by Kelsey Johnson who has 14 to go with 27 groundballs.