Women's Soccer Hosts Northwestern, Pitt This Weekend

PHILADELPHIA -Coming off a superb first weekend, the Penn women's soccer team enters a challenging weekend as two major-conference opponents come to Rhodes Field. On Friday night at 7 p.m., the Quakers will host Northwestern University from out of the Big Ten; on Sunday at 1 p.m., Penn entertains cross-state rival Pitt out of the Big East.

The Red and Blue got off to a scintillating start in 2009. In Friday's season opener, Penn hosted a George Mason team that came to Philadelphia with a 3-0-0 record and a 13-0 goal margin, and the Quakers defeated the Patriots, 3-1. On Sunday, La Salle came to Rhodes Field with a 4-0-1 overall record and four consecutive shutouts, but left with a 5-2 defeat.

On Tuesday, the Quakers received the No. 10 ranking in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Mid-Atlantic Region poll, tied with American University.

Senior Jessica Fuccello led the scoring parade with five goals -- tying a school record with four in Sunday's win over the Explorers -- and was named the Ivy League Player of the Week on Tuesday. Fellow senior Michelle Drugan scored twice, including a PK on Sunday night, while Marin McDermott also scored in Friday's win against GMU. Caroline Williams played both matches in goal.

The Series with Northwestern: The Quakers and Wildcats are meeting for just the second time ever, and the first time in Philadelphia. The first match came two years ago in Evanston, Ill., with the teams finishing in a 1-1 draw. Kristin Kaiser scored Penn's goal.

About Northwestern: The Wildcats are 1-3-1 on the young season, but the win came in their most recent match when they beat Loyola of Chicago in overtime, 1-0. Kay Sampson's second goal of the season was the winner. NU has been shut out three times this season already. Alicia Herczeg is Northwestern's other goalscorer on the season. At the other end, Carolyn Edwards has a 1.51 goals-against average and 17 saves between the pipes.

The Series with Pitt: The Panthers have won each of the previous two meetings between these programs, including a 3-1 decision in Pittsburgh last year in what was Penn's season opener. The first meeting occurred in 1999, with the Panthers taking a 1-0 decision in a neutral-site match played in College Park, Md.

About Pitt: It is high times for the 4-0-0 Panthers, who earned their first national ranking in program history earlier this week (25th in Soccer America). Pitt -- which plays at Drexel Friday afternoon -- enters the weekend having outscored its opponents 7-1, and includes Ohio State and Xavier among its victims so far this season. Ashley Cuba leads the scoring with four goals, while Klarissa Ames, Maura Romano and Ashley Habbel have one apiece. In goal, Morie Kephart has played every minute and boasts a 0.25 GAA with 13 saves to her credit.

About Penn...

*Penn is 2-0 for the second time in three years, and the fifth time in program history (since 1991).

*Penn outscored its first two opponents, 8-3.

*Jessica Fuccello scored five goals over the weekend, including four in the win over La Salle which tied a school mark. The record was originally set in 2001 by Rachelle Snyder (against Delaware), and matched in 2003 by Katy Cross (vs. Lehigh).

*Fuccello now has 25 goals in her career, tied for third all-time at Penn with Darah Ross (1994-97). With 59 career points, Fuccello is tied for fourth all-time with Jill Callaghan (1996-99). Fuccello needs two points -- either one goal or two assists -- to move into third alone, ahead of Callaghan and Kellianne Toland (1997-2000).

*Michelle Drugan scored twice over the weekend; the senior entered the season with one collegiate goal.

*In her second collegiate match, freshman Alex Dayneka had two assists.

*Penn returns 23 of its 33 goals, nine of its 12 goalscorers, four double-digit point markers, and three of its four top point scorers from last season.

*Taking it back a year further, the Quakers still have seven players who started at least 12 matches in 2007. That year, Penn went 13-4-1 and won the Ivy League title with a 6-1-0 mark.

*Penn returns a pair of All-Ivy players from a year ago, as junior first-teamer Sarah Friedman will man the midfield and sophomore Marin McDermott (honorable mention) will slide up front.

*Friedman returns after a 2008 season in which she shattered the program record for assists (15); with 20 for her career, the junior only needs six to become the program's all-time leader.

*McDermott scored 10 points in her freshman campaign (3g, 4a) and tied for the team lead with three assists and five points in Ivy League play; she had a goal in Penn's season-opening win over George Mason.

*Penn will be bolstered by the return of two other senior All-Ivy players; Fuccello was a first-team honoree in 2007, but missed last year to injury, while two-time second-teamer Jess Rothenheber looks for a healthy 2009 after seeing abbreviated action in 2008 due to injury.

*Rothenheber had nine assists in 2007, tied for third on the program's single-season chart; with 12 in her career (including one Sunday), she is tied for 10th all-time with Andrea Callaghan (1996-99).

*Junior Kristin Kaiser tied for the team lead with five goals last season, and added two assists for 12 points which was third on the team.

*In her freshman campaign, Ursula Lopez-Palm had four goals and three assists for 11 points.

Quoting Head Coach Darren Ambrose

"We will definitely have to play better this weekend if we want to get two more wins. Even though we won twice last weekend, there are still some thing we need to correct, and we will likely need to be sharper against Northwestern and Pitt -- both of them are pretty good teams."

"Northwestern is similar to what we saw a few years ago -- they are physical and strong and athletic. Despite their record, I think we'll see a good team on Friday night. They are coming in here expecting to win, but our players have been rising to the occasion so far and so I think we also expect to win."

"Pitt has probably its best team, certainly they are better than a year ago. But I think we are, too. This year, it is not our opening game, we are much fitter heading into Sunday, and we are more confident than we were when we faced them ayear ago.. But there is no doubt Pitt is off to a great start."

"I was pleased with how we looked offensively last weekend, we looked comfortable in attacking. We moved the ball well, and the midfielders were quick to coordinate our attack. I also liked our resiliency -- twice during the weekend our opponents scored to get back into the match, and both times we scored quickly to re-assert ourselves."