Women's Soccer Plays Two Key Regional Matches

PHILADELPHIA - After gaining a win and a tie from its first road trip of 2007, the Penn women’s soccer team remains in the Philadelphia region this weekend for a pair of important regional battles.

The Quakers host La Salle Friday afternoon, with kickoff coming at 4 p.m. On Sunday, they travel out to the Main Line to face a Villanova squad ranked eighth in the region by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).

The Quakers are coming off a strong weekend in Chicago, where they tied Big Ten Conference foe Northwestern, 1-1, before blitzing Loyola-Chicago 5-1 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.

“This is a big weekend for us,” said head coach Darren Ambrose. “Both teams have gotten off to strong starts, and they will provide great tests for us to see where we stand in the region at this point.”

La Salle comes to Rhodes Field with a 4-2-0 record, most recently knocking off Seton Hall, 2-0. Last Friday, La Salle was the victim of hard luck, as the Explorers lost to Manhattan despite outshooting them 23-5; prior to that, La Salle played Loyola-Chicago and defeated the Ramblers, 3-2. Last year, the Quakers gained a 4-1 win at La Salle, and they have never lost to the Explorers in 11 previous matches.

On the flip side, Penn is still looking for its first win over Villanova, having gone 0-9-1 in 10 previous meetings. The Wildcats have won at least 10 matches each of the last eight seasons, and took the region by storm last year in winning a school-record 16 matches and advancing to the second round of the NCAA College Cup.

Some notes heading into the weekend...

• For the second time this season, the Penn women walk into a matchup against a city rival, taking on La Salle. The Quakers have yet another Philadelphia-area matchup Sunday, traveling to the Main Line to meet Villanova.

• Penn made its first road trip of the year last weekend, hitting Chicago to face Big Ten Conference foe Northwestern and Loyola-Chicago.

• The Quakers tied the Wildcats, 1-1, as freshman Kristin Kaiser scored the Penn goal off a nice feed from Jess Rothenheber. In the 5-1 romp over the Ramblers, Jessica Fuccello scored twice while Molly Weir, Mara Fintzi and Natalie Capuano each dented the netting once.

• Penn has already scored 17 goals this season (compared to 24 in all of 2006); not surprisingly, the Quakers lead the Ivy League in goals, assists and points per game.

• What is perhaps a little more surprising is that Penn is also tied for the League lead for lowest goals-allowed average (0.64).

• Fuccello, a sophomore, has scored five times already this season, giving her 14 goals for her short collegiate career. Believe it or not, that actually places her in a tie for ninth place on Penn’s all-time goalscoring list, along with Yuka Morita (1993-96) Heather Taylor (1999-2002). She is tied for the Ivy lead in goals per game.

• With nine points apiece, Weir and Fintzi are tied for third in the Ivies in points per game, behind Fuccello and Cornell’s Lena Russomagno.

• Freshman Sarah Friedman had three assists in the win over Loyola, which was just one shy of the school record (set in 1998 by Andrea Callaghan). Friedman became just the fifth Penn player to get three assists in a match; most recently, it happened last year when Tracy Bienenfeld C’07 had three against Robert Morris.

• Sophomore Sara Rose has gotten the start in the last four matches; she gave way to classmate Cailly Carroll at halftime against Loyola, and then freshman Gina Winters took the last nine minutes in goal.

• This weekend marks Penn’s final foray before Ivy League play starts next weekend with Cornell; seven of the Quakers’ last nine matches are in conference.