To call Penn versus Princeton merely a rivalry would be disrespectful to the animosity the schools feel toward one another.
Don’t tell freshman lacrosse defender Leah McBride that, though. It could make an already pressure-filled game on Wednesday, when the Quakers (7-5, 5-1 Ivy) take on the Tigers (7-6, 4-2) in Princeton, N.J., even more contentious.
The McBride family would seem to have some semblance of a rooting bias in Wednesday night’s affair.
McBride’s older brother, Jack, played at Princeton from 2008 to 2011. During his tenure, he netted 90 goals and had 25 assists. In 2009, his play earned him recognition as a second-team All-American.
And when Leah approached him with the earth shattering news that she would be selecting, gasp, Penn, the oil to the clean and rarefied water that is Princeton…
“He was completely supportive,” McBride said. “I think the fact that he had already graduated made it less of an issue.”
So, complication-free, McBride travelled from Madison, N.J. (which lies just 40 miles away from Princeton) to Penn.
Yet what the season has lacked in sibling drama, McBride’s first year has made up for in athletic challenges.
Starting out, “Leah had a lot to learn about the game,” coach Karin Brower Corbett said.
She put in the work but still had a number of upperclassmen ahead of her in the pecking order. That changed when an injury occurred to one of the Red and Blue’s defensive starters when playing against Georgetown on March 21. In that game, McBride stepped in and played against the then-No. 13 team in the country.
“She played incredibly well,” Corbett said. “She earned a spot.”
Since that night, McBride has started every game for the Quakers, and on Wednesday, she’ll take the field against Princeton.
Currently, Penn sits in a tie for first place with Dartmouth, each with Ivy records of 5-1. With a win against Princeton, the Red and Blue can guarantee at least a share of the regular season Ivy League title.
However, if the Quakers fall to the Tigers, they will be forced to sit back and wait to hear the result of Friday night’s matchup between Dartmouth and Harvard.
Should both the Quakers and the Big Green lose this week, Penn falls into a four-way tie for the Ivy League title, which has never happened in the 32-year history of Ivy League women’s lacrosse.
Regardless of the outcome, McBride will taste Tiger blood for the first time on Wednesday night. And when Princeton’s offense goes on the attack, it will find that McBride bleeds Red and Blue.