The Penn field hockey team’s offensive explosion against St. Francis (Pa.) Saturday could not have come at a better time.
The Quakers (4-8, 1-2 Ivy) scored five goals for the first time since Sept. 29, 2007, and they may need to repeat that performance to stand a chance against the high-powered offense of No. 12 Drexel when the 33rd Street neighbors square off on Franklin Field tonight at 7:15 p.m.
The Dragons (11-2) have already soared past two ranked opponents this season in then-No. 10 Duke and then-No. 16 Old Dominion, beating each by a one-goal margin.
Drexel’s explosive offense has scored at least three goals in each of its 10 wins this year, including an eight-goal eruption against Saint Joseph’s and a seven-score surge against Hofstra.
The Dragons’ leading scorer Christina Mastropaolo is coming off a weekend that included a hat trick and a game-winning goal that earned her player of the week honors in the Colonial Athletic Association. Friday against ODU, the junior forward became the first player in over 11 years to score three goals against the Monarchs in a conference game, and Sunday against William and Mary she staved off an upset with a late goal to break a 1-1 tie.
After the four-goal performance, Mastropaolo sits at third in the nation this week with 1.38 goals per game and her 18 goals on the year are just one shy of Drexel’s single-season record. That mark is currently held by the team’s second-leading scorer, fellow junior forward Susan Ciufo. The Bangor, Pa., native scored Drexel’s other goal against the Tribe and has 15 on the year.
The Quakers gained confidence after the scoring burst against St. Francis, but considering the lowly status of the 1-12 Red Flash, Penn coach Val Cloud knows today’s rivalry match will not come nearly as easily.
“Going into a game against Drexel that’s a ranked team, it’s going to be a difficult matchup for us,” she said. “We’re ready for the challenge. It’ll be fun.”
And challenging it will be. Though the Quakers hold a 6-4 edge in the all-time series with Drexel, they’ve dropped the last two contests by a combined score of 9-3. However, last year’s embarrassing 6-1 defeat spurred a four-game winning streak against Ivy opponents in the weeks that followed, and the Quakers managed a respectable third-place finish in the conference.
This year they enter the rivalry match in a similar position — tied for fifth in the Ancient Eight with four Ivy games remaining.
“We want to go out and finish strong,” senior captain Katie Rose said. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t.”
— Contributing Writer Michael Morse contributed to this article.
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