While the rest of the University is getting caught up in all sorts of Fling shenanigans, Penn women’s lacrosse will be catching up on its Ivy League slate as the team takes its talents north to New Hampshire this weekend.
After a string of tough nonconference games, the Quakers (6-3, 2-0 Ivy) will face off on Saturday against Dartmouth (5-5, 2-2) in a matchup with huge implications for both teams.
The Red and Blue are behind in their Ivy schedule at the moment, having only played two of their Ivy League games so far. Their schedule has already consisted of four ranked teams, including three of the teams currently ranked in the top five in the nation.
“It’s great playing strong teams, but in the [Ivy] League there’s great parity this year and league games are just different,” coach Karin Brower Corbett said. “You have so much riding on them, there’s so much riding on this for Dartmouth and for us.”
The Big Green have traditionally been a difficult matchup for the Quakers, providing Penn with their only two losses in Ivy League competition in 2012 and playing two close games against the Red and Blue last season.
“It’s going to be intense. It’s tough up there, the fans are going to be loud,” Corbett said. “It’s tough to beat them on the road and it’s a big game, but I’m excited to take on another Ivy League opponent.”
Dartmouth provides plenty of defensive challenges for Penn and junior goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson . The Big Green boast three of the top-10 goal scorers in the Ivy League this season, including star sophomore midfield Jaclyn Leto , who has scored 16 goals over her last four games.
“We’ve got to play good defense and play good one-on-one defense and really know what they’re trying to do,” Corbett said. “As a team, what’s really important is that our whole defense plays as a unit.”
The other side of the ball will be more of a challenge for the Quakers, who have recently struggled on the offensive end.
Penn is ranked dead last in the Ivy League in goals per game, with a mere 7.89 goals per game. That number is 1.78 goals fewer than the next worst offense, Columbia, and 5.03 fewer than the Ivy League’s best offense, Brown.
“We’ve focused a lot on our offense this week and we have a lot of strong attackers,” sophomore midfield Lely DeSimone said. “We work really well together so our defense is making huge plays for us and our attack is ready to step up.”
In getting their offense back on track, the Quakers will look to rely on a multifaceted attack led by senior midfield Tory Bensen and sophomore Iris Williamson, two of the team’s top goal-scorers last year. So far this season, Bensen leads the team with 17 goals, while Williamson has struggled with a .167 shooting percentage.
“It comes down to us putting the ball in the met. [Dartmouth has] a very good goalie, she’s their best defender,” Corbett said. “For us, it’s about creating opportunities on attack and finishing.”