Women's soccer looks to spruce up NCAA resume
With title hopes up in the air, Penn can still improve tournament chances with win against Princeton
November 4, 2011, 12:16 am·
Frances Hu | DP
Beat Princeton. Watch Harvard lose to Columbia.
The women’s soccer team needs those two things to happen this weekend to clinch a share of the title with the Crimson.
And while the latter half of that formula is very much out of the Quakers’ hands, Penn can still better position itself for postseason play by holding off the Tigers on Saturday at Rhodes Field, where Penn has won 12-straight games dating back to last year.
Harvard (11-4-1, 5-0-1 Ivy) has already secured the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament — by virtue of their 2-0 win over the Quakers earlier in the year — but with a win, Penn (13-2-1, 4-1-1) could make a stronger argument for gaining an at-large bid.
“I think we become a team that has to be discussed [if we win],” coach Darren Ambrose said. “[But] I don’t think it’s a slam dunk by any means,” he added, pointing out that several results nationally would most likely need to fall Penn’s way to give them the bid.
What Penn can control this weekend is the Tigers’ offensive attack. Although Princeton (6-9-1, 2-4-0) has not seen much success this season, Ambrose remains wary.
“They’ve dominated a lot of their games. And that’s a dangerous kind of team to play because at some point, they’re going to get a break,” he said.
But the Quakers have fended off any and all forms of danger lately, having shut out their last seven opponents, tying a school record. Another goose-egg would break that mark and add to its 13 total shutouts this season, already a program record. The Quakers lead the nation in shutout percentage and are fourth in goals against average.
“We’ve had an awesome season, and I think our numbers speak for themselves,” senior Adrienne Lerner said.
Those numbers do indeed enhance their resumes for the at-large selection committee. The Red and Blue are currently ranked 62nd in RPI, and a win should see them climb higher. The tournament field takes 64 teams.
Ambrose thinks a strong factor in Penn’s favor is their “late-season form.” A victory would conclude the season with a 9-0-1 run. The Quakers would also tie the program record for single-season wins, set in 1997.
“I still hope that we have a postseason and can prove to other teams in other conferences that we really are a great team, and we’re really a force to be reckoned with,” Lerner said.
But all the speculation is meaningless if the Quakers cannot top Princeton.
“It would really be a shame to not continue with such a great season, but it’s something out of our control,” senior Marin McDermott said. “We just have to focus on getting a shutout, getting a win and seeing where that takes us.”