Women's Soccer Opens Ivy League Play at Harvard

PHILADELPHIA - After winning its first five games of 2011 via shutout, the Penn women's soccer team was knocked off its perch in a major way on Sunday at George Mason. The Patriots scored just 45 seconds into the match, added another before the match was nine minutes old, and went on to a 3-2 victory.

The hope is that the wake-up call came in time, as Penn begins defense of its Ivy League championship this Friday at Harvard. The 6 p.m. match at the Crimson's Soldiers Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium will pit the two programs that have won the last four Ivy titles (Penn in 2007 and 2010, Harvard in 2008 and 2009).

Following Friday's Ivy opener, Penn returns home to face an unfamiliar non-conference foe, as Youngstown State comes to Rhodes Field for the first meeting between the two clubs. The match kicks off at 1 p.m. and is the first half of a soccer doubleheader at Rhodes (the Penn men host Long Island at 3:30).

Around The League: Four teams kick off the 2011 Ivy League season Friday night -- in addition to the Quakers and the Crimson at 6 in Cambridge, Columbia and Cornell will meet in Ithaca, N.Y. with a 7 p.m. kickoff. Yale is at Princeton Saturday for a 3:30 start, and on Sunday Dartmouth will be in Providence, R.I., to face Brown at 4 p.m.

Penn vs. Harvard: The Quakers and the Crimson have met 20 times, with Harvard holding a 13-4-3 lead in the series. However, Penn has won three of the last four meetings and is 3-2-2 against the Crimson in the last seven years. This series has been offensively based in recent years -- last season, Penn defeated Harvard 4-3 in its highest-scoring Ivy League game since 1997, while the year before the Crimson bested the Quakers, 3-2.

About Harvard: The Crimson (3-4-0) are looking to right the ship, as they enter the weekend on a three-match losing streak. Most recently, Harvard fell to Rhode Island, 3-2, and two days before that the Crimson dropped a wild, 5-4 game to Hofstra. Harvard returns five players who earned All-Ivy a year ago, including first-teamers Melanie Baskind, Kindsay Kowal and Alexandra Conigliaro. Five different players have scored twice for Harvard this season, with Baskind adding four assists and freshman Meg Casscells-Hamby contributing three. Harvard has used four different goalkeepers, with Alexandra Millet making six of the seven starts.

Penn vs. Youngstown State: Sunday will mark the first meeting between the Quakers and the Penguins in women's soccer.

About Youngstown State: Like Harvard, the Penguins (3-4-2) arrive in Philadelphia in a bit of a rut; they had lost three in a row before tying Wright State, 1-1, last Sunday. Freshman Jade Flory leads the attack, with six goals and three assists for 15 points. Senior Geneva Strelka has two goals and two assists, while sophomore Allison Ludwig has scored twice. In goal, sophomore Ali Viola has started eight of nine matches and boasts a 1.18 goals-against average in 842 minutes.

About Penn...
*At 5-1-0, Penn is off to its best start since 1998, when the Quakers were 6-0-1 after seven matches and had shut out all seven opponents.

*Penn began the season with five wins, all coming by shutout. The last time a Quaker team posted five clean sheets in a row was 1999 (Oct. 20 to Nov. 6). Coincidentally, that 1999 streak was broken in the NCAA Championship first round by the same program that was Penn's final victim in this most recent streak, James Madison.

*Penn entered the week ranked fourth nationally in shutout percentage (.833) and 15th in goals-against average (0.50).

*Penn was the second-to-last team in NCAA Division I women's soccer to give up a goal this season. The last team is still standing, and it's another Philadelphia squad -- La Salle entered the week having not allowed a goal in six matches.

*Looking ahead to Sunday, Penn has won six games in a row at Rhodes Field dating back to last season.

*Senior forward Marin McDermott -- who was the Ivy League Player of the Week on Sept. 5 -- had both of Penn's goals Sunday at George Mason and leads Penn with nine points (4g, 1a).

*McDermott now has 18 career goals, which ties her for eighth place on Penn's all-time list with Kelly Stevens (1995-98) and Rachelle Snyder (2001-04).

*Senior midfielder Theresa Yankovich scored the only goal Penn would need last Friday at James Madison. It was her first goal this season and the fourth of her collegiate career.

*Sophomore Kerry Scalora, the 2010 Ivy League and ECAC Rookie of the Year, has six points this season, with a goal and team-high four assists. She figured in both goals in Penn's 2-0 win vs. Saint Joseph's on Sept. 11, assisting the first and scoring the second.

*Scalora entered the week 16th nationally in assists per game (0.67).

*The dynamic Scalora also leads Penn with 27 shots this season, more than double anyone else on the team (McDermott is second with 12, and freshman Megan York has 11).

*Sophomore forward Kathryn Barth is third on the team with four points (2g, 1a) while Erin Beck and Ursula Lopez-Palm have three each (1g, 1a).

*York made her first collegiate goal one to remember, as it provided all the offense Penn needed in the Quakers' 1-0 win over Villanova on Sept. 9 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 recent matches has been freshman Kaitlyn Moore, who has strung together some strong performances as a sitting midfielder. Expect to see her get a lot of time going forward.

*In goal, junior Sarah Banks has started all six matches this season and played the first half before giving way to senior captain Caroline Williams at the break.

*Williams is ranked seventh nationally in goals-against average (0.33), while Banks is 35th (0.67). In save percentage, Williams is 21st (.875) and Banks is 35th (.857).

*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.