PHILADELPHIA - An important match takes place on the Penn women’s soccer schedule Friday night, when the Quakers host Columbia under the lights at Rhodes Field. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. between the teams that have won the last two Ivy League titles.
While Penn is on a hot streak right now with four wins, the Quakers are hard-pressed to match the recent success of the Lions -- they have won six straight, including a 4-0 blanking of Long Island on Monday night. Columbia has outscored its opponents 25-6 this season, and will provide another stiff test for Penn as the Ivy League season nears its midway point.
Following Friday night’s battle, Penn steps out of conference on Sunday with a city match at La Salle. The Quakers and Explorers will kick off at 3 p.m.
The Series With Columbia
Penn holds a 9-6-2 lead in the series with the Lions, including a 2-1 win last year in New York City. That snapped the Quakers’ two-match losing streak to Columbia, both of them coming by 1-0 scores. The series is also pretty even when played in Philadelphia; the Quakers lead 4-3-1 in matches played in the City of Brotherly Love
The Series With La Salle
By contrast, the Quakers have dominated the Explorers, winning 11 times in a row over their city rival since a tie in the very first meeting. Last year, Penn defeated La Salle at Rhodes Field, 3-1; the year before that, at La Salle, the Quakers rolled to a 4-1 decision.
Elsewhere in the League
After Columbia (2-0-0) and Penn (2-0-0) kick off the weekend Friday night, the other six teams are in action Saturday. The day begins with Cornell (0-2-0) at Harvard (1-1-0) for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff, and then Princeton (2-0-0) hosts Brown (1-1-0) at 4 p.m. The weekend of Ivy League matches concludes Saturday at 7 p.m., when Dartmouth (0-2-0) and Yale (0-2-0) attempt to get their first League win in Hanover.
Penn has won four matches in a row for the first time since last year, when the Quakers tied a school record by winning six straight from Sept. 28 to Oct. 28.
Penn has shut out three of its last four opponents, and outshot its foes 79-21 in that span (42-7 in shots on goal).
Sophomore Sarah Friedman continues to lead Penn in scoring, with four goals and 11 assists. She has figured in 15 of the Quakers’ 26 goals this season.
With Penn still having seven regular-season matches left to play, Friedman’s 11 assists are already a program record for assists in a season. The previous mark of 10 was set by Katy Cross in 2001.
Just 10 matches into her sophomore year, Friedman has 16 career assists which ties her for third on Penn’s all-time list (with Jenna Linden, 2002-05; Rachelle Snyder, 2001-04, and Angie Konstantaras, 1997-2000).
Friedman entered the week leading all Ivy League players in assists per game (0.88) and was tied for third in points per game (1.38).
On Monday, Friedman was named the Co-Ivy League Player of the Week for her efforts in wins against Saint Joseph’s and Cornell; she had an unassisted goal and two assists in both matches.
On Tuesday, Friedman was named to the SoccerBuzz.com National Elite Team of the Week; she is the second Penn player in as many weeks to be so honored, following classmate Kristin Kaiser.
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 has six players with more than one goal this season -- in addition to Capuano and Friedman, there is freshman Ursula Lopez-Palm and senior Molly Weir with four apiece, while sophomore Kristin Kaiser has three goals and junior Allyson Gordon and freshman Marin McDermott have two each.
After missing her freshman year with an injury, Weir has scored four goals each of the last three seasons, for 12 in her career. The senior already has 13 points this season, a career high.
In The Ivy League
As a team, Penn is first in goals (2.60), assists (3.00) and points (8.20) per game; the Quakers are sixth in goals allowed per game (1.15).
Sarah Friedman is first in points per game (1.90) and assists per game (1.10), and tied for seventh in goals per game (0.40).
Molly Weir is third in assists per game (0.50), seventh in points per game (1.30), and tied for seventh in goals per game (0.40).
Mara Fintzi is sixth in assists per game (0.40).
Natalie Capuano is tied for seventh in goals per game (0.40).
Ursula Lopez-Palm is tied for seventh in goals per game (0.40) 10th in points per game (1.10), and tied for 10th in assists per game (0.30).
Goalkeeper Sara Rose is second in shutouts (4) and fourth in goals-against average (1.04).
The Lions (8-2-1, 2-0-0 Ivy) are as hot as any team in the country; since losing the opener to Hofstra, the only blemish on Columbia’s schedule was a 3-2 double-overtime loss to Seton Hall back on September 14. Columbia is ranked second in the NSCAA’s Northeast Region poll, behind only Boston College, and receiving votes in the national coaches’ poll. Sophie Reiser -- a first-team All-Ivy selection last year -- leads the Lions with 20 points (seven goals, six assists), and freshman Ashlin Yahr is right behind her (seven goals, five assists). They lead a team that has outscored its opponents, 25-6. Rebecca Taylor has started seven matches in goal and boasts a 0.84 goals-against average, while Lillian Klein has yet to allow a goal in nearly 400 minutes between the pipes. Columbia won the Ivy League title two years ago.
About La Salle
The Explorers (5-5-2) tied Duquesne and lost to St. Bonaventure in Atlantic 10 play last weekend, and will begin the weekend with a conference match against Fordham. Dana O’Brien has scored five goals for La Salle, while Traci DePasquale, Alex Conley and Melanie Gamble have four each. DePasquale and Conley also have five and four assists, respectively. At the other end, Melissa Sanger has started all but one match in goal and has a 1.89 goals-against average.