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#7 ashley kjar; w soccer v drexel

Nine is the magic number for the Penn women's soccer team. The Red and Blue enter tomorrow's battle with Harvard at Rhodes Field on a nine-game home winning streak. At the same time, however, the Crimson have beaten the Quakers nine straight times, every year since the Penn women's soccer team achieved varsity status in 1991. One of these streaks will come to a screeching halt tomorrow at 1 p.m. as these two Ivy League powerhouses collide. The only question is which it will be. One thing is for certain -- both teams have an enormous amount of respect for each other. "We're trying to get ready for a team that we respect a great deal," Harvard coach Tim Wheaton said. "They have great players, and we know that it's going to be a battle." Wheaton leads a Harvard team that has owned the Ivy League the past five years, winning the Ancient Eight title all but one season since 1995. The Crimson were blanked by Texas A&M;, 3-0, in the first game of their 2000 campaign, but quickly bounced back to stomp Vermont, 7-1. They are currently ranked 21st in the nation. The women from Cambridge are certainly a force to be reckoned with. The Quakers know this. They know that they have never beaten the Crimson in the history of the women's soccer program. They remember their overtime loss to Harvard last season and how it cost them their first-ever Ivy League title. But they are not scared. In fact, they are more confident than ever. "We're especially motivated," Penn sophomore forward Heather Taylor said. "We've been preparing for this game ever since we lost last year." "We're very confident," Penn coach Darren Ambrose added. "Right now we're playing as well as we can going into the game." The Quakers will count on their home-field advantage to be a huge factor in tomorrow's battle. They have not lost a game at Rhodes Field since 1998 and will defend their home turf at all costs. "Every time we step on our field, we're set to defend it with whatever we have," Taylor said. "There's an incredible element of pride -- on our turf, we expect to win," Ambrose added. "Home-field advantage in the Ivy League is huge." On the opposing sideline, however, Wheaton is a bit skeptical of how important the advantage really is. "Every team loves to play at home, but games are pretty much the same everywhere," he said. But although he does not fear the atmosphere of Rhodes Field, he does lose sleep over Penn's first team All-Ivy star. "Kelli Toland is one of the best players in the league, and we have a great deal of respect for her," Wheaton said. "Kelli has the ability to take control of a game, and that's what we're concerned with." Toland and the Quakers will look to take control of the game from the start and do something that they have never done -- beat Harvard. But to do that, they know that they have to play a near-flawless game. "Everything has got to be close to perfect," said junior defender Sarah Campbell, who scored her first collegiate goal in Wednesday's contest against Drexel. "Everything has to come together for this game." Tomorrow's game is all about pride. Harvard's win over the Red and Blue in Boston last year shattered Penn's dreams of a championship. When the Quakers step on the field tomorrow, they will look for revenge, knowing that the winner will probably become the odds-on favorite to win the Ancient Eight crown. "There is so much pride in this game," Campbell said. "It's more than just a soccer game when we step on the field."

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