Women's Lacrosse Set for NCAA First Round

Ali DeLuca Interviewed by KYW Newsradio 1060's MattLeon

Philadelphia Daily News Feature

Penn Current Feature on The Class of 2010

PHILADELPHIA - For the fourth consecutive year, Penn is set to embark on a NCAA Tournament run, and for the third time that road will include a game with Boston University.

The No. 8 seed Quakers will take on the Terriers in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Women's Lacrosse Championships on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Immaculata University's Draper Walsh Stadium.

The Red and Blue have advanced to three consecutive Final Fours and have twice defeated B.U. in the process. In 2007, the Quakers defeated Boston University, 11-5 in a first round game. The following year, Penn and B.U. met in the second round with the Quakers prevailing, 8-5. The all-time series stands at 3-0 in favor of the Quakers, with the third win a 13-7 victory in the 2009 regular season.

Both teams are coming off wins in their respective conference tournaments. The Quakers claimed the inaugural Ivy League Tournament with a 9-8 win over Dartmouth. The Terriers held off Maryland-Baltimore County, 11-10 to claim their sixth consecutive America East Tournament championship.

The Quakers enter the game averaging 11.71 goals a game while B.U. is scoring 10.74. A key factor in the outcome will be which team's defense steps up. Penn is again one of the best defenses in the nation, holding teams to 6.71 goals-per-game - good for second in the country. The Terriers, on the other hand, are giving up an average of 9.74 goals over the course of the season.

The Terriers have played three other Ivy League teams already in 2010, going 1-2 against Ancient Eight schools. B.U. defeated Harvard, 13-9, in Cambridge before falling to Yale (11-9) and Dartmouth (15-10). Against those three teams, Penn went 4-0.

The Quakers are a veteran team, with only one freshman among the team's top eight scorers. On defense, the Red and Blue boast a quartet of juniors and seniors in front of senior goalkeeper Emily Szelest.

Over the past three postseasons, the Quakers have played 10 NCAA Tournament games with a 7-3 record. For a team that has done it all over the past three-plus seasons - Final Fours, Ivy titles, undefeated Ivy seasons, breaking scoring records - there is one goal left to accomplish.

The senior class which has won four-straight Ivy titles and navigated conference play without a blemish has its sights set on a return trip to Towson, Md. and the national title game.

At the head of the senior class is Ali DeLuca. The unanimous 2010 Ivy League Player of the Year was named Penn's first Tewaaraton Award finalist this week and is looking to state her case to the committee with a run to the national championship. She enters the national tournament with a team-high 40 goals and 65 points. She is seven points away from equaling Penn's single-season point record and recently became just the second player in program history to eclipse the 200-point plateau (DeLuca currently has 202 career points).

Classmate Emma Spiro amassed 25 goals in 12 games this season, and with 93 career points is closing in on joining the 100-point club. Courtney Lubbe facilitates Penn's offense behind the cage with 18 goals and 17 assists in her senior season. Fellow senior Megan Smith has been a revelation on attack for the Quakers with 14 goals in her final season. Entering 2010 she had two career scores over three seasons, but throughout the 201 campaign she has come through in big games for head coach Karin Brower Corbett.

Barb Seaman and Kaileigh Wright are the two senior anchors on defense for the Quakers. Each has started all 17 games in 2010, keeping opposing attackers at bay and limiting teams to 16.9 shots-per-game. The duo has combined for 30 caused turnovers and 44 ground balls, jumpstarting Penn's transition game from the back end.

The last line of defense has been Szelest. The 2009 NCAA goals-against average leader is third in the NCAA this year with a 6.95 GAA. Only five times over 17 games has she allowed more than seven goals in a game. She is 2-1 in NCAA Tournament games.

The Terriers have scored 204 goals this season, but it is clear who the focal points of the offense are. Traci Landy (50) and McKinley Curro (48) have combined for 98 of the 204 goals, or 48%. The next highest goal scorer is Hannah Frey who has 26. Xan Weitzel is content to set up the goal scorers, leading the Terriers with 34 assists. Corcoran Downey has 25 caused turnovers and 32 ground balls from the midfield position while Rachel Collins is a beast on draw controls with 41 to go with another 44 ground balls. Rachel Klein has started all 19 of B.U.'s games in goal, with a 9.56 GAA and a save percentage of .488.

Saturday's game will have an audio broadcast live via the Penn Sports Network. Live stats can be found at www.ncaa.com.