PHILADELPHIA – As has been the case for the last several years now, the University of Pennsylvania women’s soccer team jumps right into the fray in Ivy League play. The Quakers open conference action by hosting defending champion Harvard Saturday night at 7 p.m., looking to knock off a program that won the Ivies with an unblemished 7-0-0 mark last year. As a sign of how important this particular Ivy-opening matchup is, four of the last five years (and five of the last seven) the winner of this match has gone on to win the Ivy League title.
Calling All Penn Students!
As an incentive to drive up student attendance at Saturday night's match, Penn Athletics will be giving away a cornhole game to one lucky Penn student who checks in atthe game through Penn Rewards. The student must be on-site at the time of the announcement to collect his/her prize; the announcement is expected to be made at the end of halftime.
Around the Ivy League
This weekend marks the opening of Ivy League play for all eight teams. Cornell and Columbia will kick things off on Friday night in New York City, while Princeton and Yale will meet in New Haven on Saturday at 4 p.m. On Sunday, Brown is at Dartmouth for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
The Series with Harvard
The Crimson hold a 15-5-3 lead in the series, but that is swayed by the fact that Harvard won the first 10 matchups in the series, from 1991-2000. Since then, the teams are 5-5-3. A trend Penn hopes to continue: the home team has won this match each of the last six years. As a sign of how important this Ivy-opening matchup is, four of the last five years (and five of the last seven) the winner of this match has gone on to win the Ivy League title.
The Crimson (5-2-0) shut out a pair of opponents last week, beating UNH 1-0 in overtime and then LIU Brooklyn 5-0. Sophomore Margaret Purce -- last year’s Ivy League Rookie AND Offensive Player of the Year -- and senior Meg Casscells-Hamby are tied for the team lead with five points each (2g, 1a). Emily Mosbacher and Brooke Dickens have also scored twice for the Crimson. In goal, senior Cheta Emba (16 saves, 0.67 GAA) and sophomore Lizzie Durack (10 saves, 0.43 GAA) have basically split time. Junior Haley Washburn was a first-team All-Ivy pick last year while Casscells-Hamby, Emba and fellow senior Erika Garcia were second-team All-Ivy.
*Penn is coming off a road weekend in which it shut out both of its opponents, tying VCU 0-0 and then beating Delaware 1-0.
*Senior Kaitlyn Moore -- who missed the Quakers’ first four games this season due to injury -- saw her first action off the bench at VCU, then scored the only goal in the win over the Blue Hens.
*Erin Mikolai, one of Penn’s three first-team All-Ivy players from a year ago still on the team, had the assist on Moore’s goal at Delaware.
*The Quakers’ other goalscorers this season have been underclassmen – sophomores Lindsey Sawczuk and Ana Chevtchenko, and freshmen Anna Estep and Kristen Miller. Sawczuk also has an assist this season, giving her a team-high three points.
*Penn has gone overtime three times this season, winning one and tying the other to continue an impressive run: the Quakers have not lost a match in overtime dating back to the 2008 season, going 7-0-12 in extra time during that span.
*Senior Katherine Myhre and junior Kalijah Terilli have both played at least a half in five of the team’s six matches; the only exception came against William & Mary, when Terilli went the distance in a 3-0 loss.
*Penn is 21-5-4 in its last 30 Ivy League matches, dating back to the 2009 season.
*Penn has not lost to an Ivy League team at home since a 2-1 loss to Columbia on Oct. 8, 2010. Since then, the Quakers are 11-0-1 on Rhodes Field against Ivy opposition, the tie coming last year against Yale.
*Overall, Penn is 42-11-10 over its last 63 matches dating back to the 2010 season. In those 63 matches, Penn has almost as many shutouts (38) as goals allowed (40).
*Penn went 12-1-4 last season, setting a program record for fewest losses in a season, and took second place in the Ivy League at 5-1-1, behind only Harvard (7-0-0).
*Penn shut out 12 of its 17 opponents last season, a .706 percentage that was fourth nationally; three years ago, the Quakers led the nation in shutout percentage.
*Penn allowed just eight goals last season, good for a 0.44 goals-against average that was fifth nationally.
*Penn head coach Darren Ambrose is in his 15th season at the helm; he entered the 2014 season 34th among active NCAA Division I coaches in winning percentage (.650) and 39th all-time at the NCAA Division I level.
*Junior defender Caroline Dwyer was a third-team All-America last year, just the second Penn player to be so honored by the NSCAA (Katy Cross was a second-team All-America in 2001).
*That recognition has not gone unnoticed in the preseason, as Dwyer was one of 13 underclass women named to the MAC Hermann Preseason Watch List. The MAC Hermann Trophy is given to the nation’s top men’s and women’s collegiate players.
*Dwyer also received plenty of preseason recognition from TopDrawerSoccer, including second-team All-America; 21st on its list of the nation’s top 100 players; and second among the Ivy League’s top 20 players.
*Penn returns two other first-team All-Ivy players from last year besides Dwyer; fellow juniors Terilli and Mikolai. They were listed fifth and 20th, respectively, on TopDrawerSoccer’s preseason Ivy Top 20, while sophomore Tahirih Nesmith was listed 14th. (Only Harvard had more players than Penn’s four on the TDS Top 20, with five.)
*Terilli, a goalkeeper, enjoyed a stint in the United States Under-23 camp this summer. She is a junior at Penn, but has sophomore eligibility after missing her entire freshman campaign to injury.
*Chevtchenko, meanwhile, continued her play with the Russian National Team throughout the summer.
*Seniors Moore, Haley Cooper and Clara Midgley are this year’s captains.