PHILADELPHIA - A year ago, Penn clinched a share of the Ivy League championship with an overtime win against Princeton in Philadelphia. This year, the Quakers can only play the role of spoiler as they make the trip to Tigertown, facing a Princeton team that holds hopes of earning this year’s Ivy crown.
Princeton (11-2-2, 4-1-1 Ivy) is tied with Harvard and Columbia in the Ivy standings, and the Crimson and Lions face off with each other Saturday morning at 11 a.m., five hours ahead of the Tigers and Quakers who will kick off at 4 p.m. on Princeton's new Roberts Stadium.
For Penn (8-5-3, 2-2-2 Ivy), Saturday’s season finale will put the cap on a frustrating season that saw the Quakers beset by injuries to key players throughout the season, and some devastating results down the stretch. Most recently, of course, there was last Saturday’s 1-0 overtime loss to Brown that officially eliminated the Quakers from the championship race.
Saturday’s match at Princeton will mark the final game wearing the red and blue for seven seniors -- Natalie Capuano, Maggie Devitt, Ellen Gregory, Eileen Larkin, Tory Tripp, Molly Weir and Nicki White.
The Series With Princeton
The Tigers lead the series, 10-6-1, and had won three in a row over the Quakers before Kristin Kaiser’s overtime heroics a year ago. Princeton has won all but one match played on its home field against Penn, that Quaker victory came in 1998. The last time Penn won consecutive games against Princeton was 1997-99, when the Quakers won three in row. Darren Ambrose is 2-5-1 against Princeton as Penn’s head coach.
Elsewhere in the League
Harvard’s tie with Dartmouth last weekend set the stage for some serious fireworks this weekend, as three teams are tied for first heading into Saturday’s final match day. Two of them -- Harvard (4-1-1) and Columbia (4-1-1) -- play each other at 11 a.m. in New York, which means Princeton (4-1-1) will know what it needs to do prior to its kickoff with the Quakers (2-2-2). Dartmouth (1-4-1) and Cornell (1-5-0) kick off at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Ithaca, while Yale (2-3-1) and Brown (2-3-1) face each other in Providence at 7 p.m.
Penn’s overtime loss last weekend marked the second year in a row that the Quakers fell to Brown in extra time.
Penn has scored 32 goals this season, the fifth-best output in program history. Last year the Quakers scored 35 goals in 18 matches.
At the other end, Penn has shut out six of its last 10 opponents and outscored them 21-6 in that span.
Sophomore Sarah Friedman continues to lead Penn in scoring, with four goals and 14 assists. She has figured in 18 of the Quakers’ 32 goals this season.
Friedman’s 14 assists are already a program record for assists in a season. The previous mark of 10 was set by Katy Cross in 2001.
Friedman has 19 career assists which places her alone in third on Penn’s all-time list behind Katy Cross (25 from 2001-04) and Kellianne Toland (22 from 1997-2000).
Senior Natalie Capuano has scored 14 career goals which is tied for 10th on the program’s all-time list with Yuka Morita (1993-96) and Heather Taylor (1999-2002).
Capuano has five goals this season, which ties her career high (also in 2005) and is tied for the team lead with sophomore Kristin Kaiser.
Earlier this week, Capuano was named Academic All-District by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Friedman, freshman Ursula Lopez-Palm and senior Molly Weir have four goals apiece, while freshman Marin McDermott has three.
In The Ivy League
As a team, Penn entered the week first in assists per game (2.31) and second in goals per game (2.00) and points per game (6.31); the Quakers are fifth in goals-against average (0.95).
Sarah Friedman entered the week first in assists per game (0.88) and fifth in points per game (1.38).
Molly Weir was tied for seventh in assists per game (0.31).
Sara Rose was tied for second in shutouts per game (0.33) and sixth in goals-against average (1.03).
The Tigers lost last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year, Diana Matheson, to graduation, but they have been getting it done with defense this year. Princeton has given up just six goals all season, including three in six Ivy matches. Offensively, Sarah Peteraf has been the mainstay; the sophomore has 12 goals, including a stunning seven match-winners which leads the Ivy League. She scored once last weekend at Cornell, which was no big surprise. What WAS a surprise, however, was freshman Alissa Boddie who entered the match without a point for the season but scored three times and assisted Peteraf’s marker. Kalie Bartholomew has four goals. The defense is anchored by Taylor Numann, a second-team All-Ivy pick a year ago. In goal, Alyssa Pont has started every match and boasts a 0.41 goals-against average.
Quoting Head Coach Darren Ambrose
“Penn-Princeton is a rivalry game, no matter the sport, and so I expect our team to be ready to go. The stakes don’t matter in a rivalry game anyway, but the fact that we can play spoiler certainly adds to it from our perspective. Even though we are out of the race we have a chance to affect it, so we have to take advantage.”
“Sarah Peteraf is a crafty player, she has scored half their goals this season and had a lot of game-winners. We need to be conscious of where she is, especially when it comes to deadballs and re-starts.”
“Princeton has a very strong defense, no doubt. But we have created chances in every game this year, and I expect we’ll have our chances Saturday just like they well. We need to finish those chances when they come.”