It’s a free-for-all in the Ivy men's soccer title hunt
Penn has golden chance as the top four teams in the Ancient Eight all play each other this weekend
October 24, 2013, 7:09 pm · Updated October 24, 2013, 8:33 pm·
Patrick Hulce | DP
When the top four Ivy teams play each other in one weekend, you know you are in for a treat.
Penn, Yale and Princeton are tied for first after each accumulating two wins and one tie. Harvard is not far behind with two wins and a loss. Shortly before the Quakers (5-6-1, 2-0-1 Ivy) take on Yale (3-8-1, 2-0-1) Saturday, either Princeton or Harvard will have racked up its third win (barring a draw) when they play each other.
“It’s obviously a big weekend when you have all four teams at the top playing each other,” Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. “The results are clearly going to impact things in the near term.”
After this weekend, the Red and Blue will be halfway through their league play with only three games remaining. With so many teams so close to each other in the Ancient Eight, anything is still possible.
“It’s just going to be a really interesting last four weeks because so many of those four teams have games against each other,” Fuller said. “And who knows how those results go and whether any of the other teams play themselves back in it?”
While the Quakers have enjoyed some big wins thus far, no game can be taken lightly. Yale has proven that it is tough competition, and the Red and Blue expect nothing less than a fight come Saturday.
“The most important thing is that they are coming off a good set of games and are coming into this weekend feeling pretty good about themselves, so I think we are most worried about their confidence,” junior forward Duke Lacroix said. “And I think we need to shut that down early in the game and put a goal in, calm our nerves and take away their confidence going forward.”
But it is not just Yale’s confidence that is strong. The Bulldogs have a lot of talent in their own right.
“[Yale is] really good at stretching out and moving the ball,” Fuller said. “If you don’t put good pressure on them they can pick you apart and make you chase for long periods.
“We’ve got to be really good defensively and then take advantage of how spread out they are in transitions. So when they are spread out and trying to work the ball around and we intercept a pass or turn ‘em over, can we get at them while there is a lot of space on the field, that’s going to be the key.”
Luckily for the Quakers, they have proven that defense is one of their strengths. Penn has yet to give up a goal in Ivy play thus far and currently boasts a total of five shutouts this season.
Though this weekend will certainly change the tide of the season for a few teams, there are still three more games left to be played. Even with a negative result, the Quakers will still have hope.
“I think if we read too much into this game only midway through the Ivy season, then we could stumble ourselves,” Lacroix said. “So going into this weekend, we are going to approach it the same way we went in to the three weekends before it — go in, get a result and play solid for 90 minutes.”