At 4-0-0 overall, with all the wins coming via shutout, Penn is off to its best start since 1998. The Quakers are ranked second in the NSCAA's Mid-Atlantic Regional poll this week, behind only Dayton, and received voting points in the national poll. James Madison is ranked third in the region, while George Mason is unranked. Both the Dukes and the Patriots play in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Penn vs. James Madison: The Quakers and the Dukes have met three times previously, with JMU winning all three. Two of those three matches have been NCAA Championship first-round games, the last coming in 2007 when James Madison defeated Penn, 2-0, in Morgantown, W.Va. Penn's only other appearance in Harrisonburg came in 2002, when the Quakers lost to JMU 1-0.
About James Madison: The Dukes (3-2-2) most recently tied No. 3 Maryland, 0-0, last Sunday. That came on the heels of a 2-0 loss to Georgetown. Talk about a balanced offense -- Katie Hyland has scored twice for JMU this season, while nine other players have scored once. Lauren Wilson has four assists, while Becky Sparks has three. In goal, Kate Courter has played every minute and boasts a 0.81 goals-against average as well as an .842 save percentage.
Penn vs. George Mason: Sunday will mark the eighth meeting between these programs, with Penn holding a 4-3 lead in the series. The last matchup came in 2009, a 3-1 Quaker victory at Rhodes Field. This will be Penn's first game in Fairfax since 2003.
About George Mason: The Patriots (1-3-2) will host Howard on Friday before Penn comes to town on Sunday. Last weekend, Mason gained its first win of 2011, a 3-1 decision over Saint Francis (Pa.); last Friday, they tied Longwood, 2-2. Like James Madison, the George Mason attack has been balanced to this point -- Tiana Kallenberger has two goals, and then five others have scored once. Nicole Clark is scoreless, but leads GMU with three assists. In goal, Alex Bodenschatz has a 2.23 GAA in 323 minutes while Lyndsey Hokanson has a 1.75 GAA in 257 minutes.
*Penn is 4-0-0 for the first time since 1998, and like that 1998 squad all of this year's wins have come via shutout. (The 1998 team started the season with five shutout wins, a 0-0 tie in its sixth game, and another shutout win for a 6-0-1 start. That Quaker squad ended the year 11-5-1.)
*Penn will be sad not to play at home this weekend -- the Quakers have won six games in a row at Rhodes Field, dating back to last season.
*The last time Penn posted four straight shutouts was actually just last season; prior to that, the last time a Quaker team posted at least four clean sheets in a row was 1999, when they posted five in a row from Oct. 20 to Nov. 6. That streak was broken in the NCAA Championship first round by Friday's opponent, James Madison.
*Senior forward Marin McDermott -- who was the Ivy League Player of the Week on Sept. 5 -- and sophomore Kathryn Barth are Penn's scoring leaders. Both have two goals and an assist for five points.
*McDermott now has 16 career goals, which puts her alone in 10th place on Penn's all-time goal-scoring list. She needs two more to move into a tie for eighth place with Kelly Stevens (1995-98) and Rachelle Snyder (2001-04).
*Sophomore Kerry Scalora, the 2010 Ivy League and ECAC Rookie of the Year, also has five points this season, with a goal and three assists. She figured in both Penn goals in last Sunday's 2-0 win vs. Saint Joseph's, assisting the first and scoring the second.
*Scalora also leads Penn with 17 shots this season, more than double anyone else on the team (McDermott and freshman Megan York are tied for second, with eight apiece).
*York made her first collegiate goal one to remember, as it provided all the offense Penn needed in last Friday's 1-0 win over Villanova at PPL Park, the home of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union.
*After going 0-11-1 against Villanova in the first 12 meetings of that series, Penn has now defeated the Wildcats each of the last two years.
*On defense, a new middle has featured senior captain Adrienne Lerner and junior Erin Thayer. Senior Colleen Barry has returned to her usual spot on the right side, while junior Alex Dayneka has been on the left side.
*One of the revelations in Sunday's match with Saint Joseph's was freshman Kaitlyn Moore, who had a strong performance as a sitting midfielder. Expect to see her get a lot of time going forward.
*In goal, junior Sarah Banks has started all four matches this season and played the first half before giving way to senior captain Caroline Williams at the break. Banks has seven saves so far, while Williams has four.
*Penn has won two of the last four Ivy League titles; last year, the Quakers went 4-1-2 in Ivy play and narrowly edged Princeton for the championship.
*Overall, Penn went 9-7-2 last year including its NCAA Championship first-round loss to Penn State. The Quakers have never had a losing record under 12th-year head coach Darren Ambrose.
*The Quakers return seven starters and 14 letterwinners overall from last year's team, which won the Ivy League title for the second time in four years and third time in program history.
*Scalora was the Ivy League and ECAC Rookie of the Year last season, as well as a second-team All-Ivy honoree. She tied with seniors McDermott and Lopez-Palm for the goal-scoring lead last year, with five.
*McDermott received honorable mention All-Ivy last year, the third time in three years she garnered All-Ivy honors.
*At the other end, Williams -- one of this year's captains, along with Lerner and Beck -- was honorable mention All-Ivy in 2010 after collecting seven shutouts and a 0.88 goals-against average.
*Penn has holes to fill. Kaitlin Campbell and Sarah Friedman, both first-team All-Ivy recipients last year, have graduated. (Friedman graduated as the program's all-time leader in assists.) So has Marisa Schoen, a four-year starter on defense.