PHILADELPHIA - The Penn women’s soccer team has reached a critical part of its season, facing three Ivy League road matches among its last four conference games. The first comes Saturday afternoon, when the Quakers make the trip North to face Dartmouth College.
Kickoff between the Quakers and Big Green is slated for 4:30 p.m. at the new Burnham Field in Hanover, N.H., and it is the first match of a doubleheader in Hanover as the Penn and Dartmouth men kick off afterward.
Penn (7-3-2, 2-0-1 Ivy) is unbeaten in its last seven matches, going 5-0-2 over that span, and the Quakers have shut out four of their last six opponents.
The Series With Dartmouth
Dartmouth leads the series, 12-5-1, but Penn was victorious last year in Philadelphia, 2-1. That ended a four-match streak in which the Quakers were unable to overcome the Big Green. The last time these teams met in Hanover, in 2006, Dartmouth earned a 1-0 victory. Penn is 1-6-1 all-time in Hanover, with the win coming in 2002 and the tie coming in 2004.
Elsewhere in the League
Saturday is a busy day, as all eight teams are in action -- in fact, every game will overlap at some point. Harvard (2-1-0) and Brown (1-1-1) kick things off at 3 p.m. in Providence, followed an hour later by kickoff between Princeton (2-0-1) and Columbia (2-0-1) in New York City. At 4:30 p.m., while the Quakers square off with Dartmouth, so will Yale (1-2-0) and Cornell (0-3-0) be kicking off in Ithaca.
Penn is unbeaten in its last seven matches, going 5-0-2 in that time. The last time Penn lost was Sept. 19 at Richmond.
Penn’s unbeaten streak is its longest since the 2004 team went unbeaten through eight matches (6-0-2); the school record for longest unbeaten streak is nine matches (7-0-2), set in 2001.
Penn’s next goal will be its 30th this season, which would be 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 four of its last six opponents and outscored them 18-3 in that span.
Sophomore Sarah Friedman continues to lead Penn in scoring, with four goals and 12 assists. She has figured in 16 of the Quakers’ 29 goals this season.
With Penn still having five regular-season matches left to play, Friedman’s 12 assists are already a program record for assists in a season. The previous mark of 10 was set by Katy Cross in 2001.
Just 12 matches into her sophomore year, Friedman has 17 career assists which places her alone in third on Penn’s all-time list.
Sophomore Kristin Kaiser earned a spot on the Ivy League Honor Roll this week after scoring both of Penn’s goals in a 2-0 win at La Salle, and assisting the Quakers’ only score in their 1-1 Ivy draw with Columbia.
Kaiser leads Penn with five goals this season, while Natalie Capuano, Ursula Lopez-Palm and Molly Weir have four apiece.
Senior Natalie Capuano -- a candidate for the prestigious Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award -- has 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).
Penn’s offense was further bolstered this past weekend by the return of Jessica Fuccello, last year’s leading scorer who has been out with injuries all season. She played against both Columbia and La Salle, and put three shots on goal against the Explorers.
Another player who saw her first action of 2008 last weekend was junior goalkeeper Cailly Carroll, who played the second half and overtime against Columbia and kept her goal intact while Penn came back for the tie.
In The Ivy League
As a team, Penn is first in assists per game (2.83) and second in goals (2.60) and points (7.67) per game; the Quakers are fifth in goals allowed per game (1.03).
Sarah Friedman is first in assists per game (1.00), third in points per game (1.67), and tied for eighth in goals per game (0.33).
Molly Weir is sixth in assists per game (0.42), eighth in points per game (1.08), and tied for eighth in goals per game (0.33).
Kristin Kaiser is fifth in goals per game (0.42) and tied for ninth in points per game (1.00).
Natalie Capuano and Ursula Lopez-Palm are tied with Friedman and Weir for eighth in goals per game (0.33).
Mara Fintzi and Marin McDermott are tied for ninth in assists per game (0.33).
Goalkeeper Sara Rose is second in shutouts (4) and fifth in goals-against average (1.03).
The Big Green (6-5-1, 0-3-0 Ivy) defeated Bryant, 1-0, Tuesday afternoon thanks to a goal by Myra Sack. That goal was Sack’s team-leading third this season; four other players have scored twice (Kelsey Quick, Peyton Tata, Aly O’Dea, Alexis Euwema). Sack and Quick also have four assists apiece. Laurel Peak has played every minute in goal for Dartmouth, recording 51 saves and a 0.87 goals-against average. Midfielder Ali Hubbard was a second-team All-Ivy selection last year, while Sack and Maggie Goldstein got honorable mention recognition.
Quoting Head Coach Darren Ambrose
“It is not complicated -- we have to play well on Saturday. They like to knock the ball around, similar to us, so I expect people to see an entertaining game.”
“We’ve done well to this point in the league, I think we’re a little disappointed we could not get a win at home last weekend but we created chances. Right now it is about the 90 minutes we play in Hanover on Saturday. We need to possess the ball, create chances and make the most of them. If we do that, we should be successful.”
“Dartmouth is 0-3 in the league right now, but they have players who were on a successful team just a few years ago, so they know how to win. We understand what is at stake here, we are sitting in a good position but we know we need to do well to take care of business this weekend.”
“This is a tough stretch of road games, but you need to win everywhere if you are going to win the Ivy League. The bottom line is that the field will be the same size, and the ball will be the same size. We know Dartmouth will be ready to play, and so we need to perform well if we want to get the result.”