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If Penn women's lacrosse is to pull off an upset over defending NCAA champion Maryland, its defense, led by junior Katy Junior, will have to have its top game of the season.

Credit: Nicole Fridling

It's time for that undefeated record to get put to the test.

On Thursday at 3 p.m., Penn women’s lacrosse is taking on defending NCAA Champion and No. 4 Maryland at Franklin Field. 

Coming off of a huge win against No. 19 Duke (6-3, 1-1 ACC), the Quakers are looking to keep their seven-same winning streak alive against Maryland (6-1, 1-0 Big Ten).

Off to its best seven-game start since 2009, No. 7 Penn (7-0, 1-0 Ivy) has a high-powered offense that the team is looking towards to help it this Thursday against the Terrapins.

Freshman Zoe Belodeau has burst onto the scene with 17 goals so far this season, making her one of the top scorers on the team. Sophomore Gabby Rosenzweig has a whopping team-leading 25 goals to herself, and longtime stars and seniors Alex Condon and Caroline Cummings provide further support.

Defensively, Penn will have its hands full with a stacked Maryland offense averaging 17.1 goals per game, good for third in the country. The Quakers will have to ward off Maryland’s main scorers, senior Megan Whittle and junior Caroline Steele, who have combined to provide 49 of the team’s 120 goals.

Last year, the Quakers were up to the task. While Penn fell, 11-7, to a Maryland team that would finish the season undefeated, the Red and Blue held the Terps to their lowest goal total of the season.

That effort came with then-senior and program legend Britt Brown in goal, but this season, the Quakers' defensive personnel looks a bit different.

After recently earning the starting job, sophomore Mikaila Cheeseman will work to protect the goal like her predecessor in this upcoming match. So far this season, Cheeseman is sixth in the nation with an impressive 55.6 save percentage of shots on goal — which compares favorably to Maryland’s goalie, reigning IWLCA Goalie of the Year and junior Megan Taylor, at 42.6 percent.

Maryland crushed Johns Hopkins this past Saturday by a score of 15-5. When the Quakers played the Blue Jays back in February, they barely snagged a 12-11 win. 

The Red and Blue have come a long way since then, however. As the new-look offense has jelled, Penn's shooting percentage has risen from the 39.5 percent mark it had when it previously played Johns Hopkins to 45.2 percent after defeating Duke. 

The Quakers are eager for a win this week, but they have their work cut out for them — not only in facing another winter storm, but also in the challenge of taking down the reigning champs.

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