It all comes down to this.
Though Wednesday’s game between the No. 9 Penn women’s lacrosse team and Princeton won’t necessarily decide the Ivy League regular season title, it will certainly have the most impact of any game played this season thus far.
When the Quakers (7-3, 3-0 Ivy) travel to Princeton (8-4, 4-1), it will be only their fourth Ivy League game of the season. As such, there is still opportunity for serious movement in the standings, as Harvard and Cornell each sit at 3-2.
But for the Red and Blue, the rest of the Ivy League standings are in the periphery. The upcoming game against the Tigers is the team’s main focus.
“Everyone is really pumped for [the game],” sophomore midfield Nina Corcoran said. “It’s our biggest game of the season. Princeton’s always our big rival.”
For the Quakers, one of the most important aspects of this game will be maintaining the offensive success that they’ve consistently found against Ivy League opponents. Corcoran has been a key part of that effort, scoring five goals and assisting on five more in three Ivy contests so far.
“For us it’s about good ball movement and creating a lot of opportunities and second chances,” coach Karin Brower Corbett said. “We did a good job of that against Dartmouth and I hope we can continue to do that [against Princeton].”
Penn certainly showed that ability to its fullest against Dartmouth last weekend, attempting 20 shots on goal to the Big Green’s 10 in a game that could have easily been more of a blowout had a few post shots gone the Quakers’ way.
And it will be difficult to get anything past Princeton junior goalkeeper Annie Woehling , who boasts a 7-1 record since taking over midseason. The junior leads the Ancient Eight in save percentage.
The Quakers will also have to deal with sophomore defender Liz Bannantine , who earned co-Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts in limiting Maryland and Harvard to a combined 14 goals last week.
On the other side of the field, Penn has a whole different challenge in front of them as it faces a Princeton offense teeming with weapons. The Tigers boast eight different players with at least 13 goals on the season, a number that only three Quakers have reached.
“They have a lot of threats and they have a pretty well balanced attack and obviously [Erin Slifer and Erin McMunn] are leading the way,” Corbett said. “For us, it really comes down to eight people playing together and when we play that way, we’re ready for what they’re going to do.”
The Quakers have had Princeton’s number in recent history, winning seven of the past nine meetings between the teams after going winless in the previous 13 matchups before that.
Both teams enter the game ranked in the top-15 overall in RPI, with Penn sitting at No. 8 and Princeton at No. 15. This is an opportunity for both teams to take down a rival and further their chances of both winning the Ivy League regular season title and reaching the NCAA Tournament.
“For us to win the [Ivy] league, this is always one of the biggest games,” Corbett said. “We know Princeton is a top team and the only way we can reach our goal of winning the league is through them.”