Sometimes you need a little bit of a change. And when the Penn women's lacrosse team faces Brown (5-6, 2-3 Ivy) on Stevenson Field at 1 p.m. tomorrow, the Quakers will be getting exactly that. Penn (6-7, 2-4) won't be playing at home, won't be playing on artificial turf and won't be confronted by a top-10 opponent. But the real story is another change -- with a victory over the Bears, the Quakers can secure fifth place in the Ivies, their highest finish since 1997. "It's a huge game -- it may be our biggest of the season," Penn sophomore goalie Alaina Harper said. "We can do this and be in fifth place. We want that. This team wants that." The Quakers enter the home stretch of their up-and-down 2001 campaign on a decidedly negative note. After losses to No. 10 Dartmouth and No. 3 Princeton -- games that were basically even at the half -- Penn is 0-6 against top-20 squads on the year. This high level of competition, while not yielding the positive results that Penn may have been looking for, has toughened the Red and Blue for games like Brown -- contests that Quakers coach Karin Brower terms "50-50 games." "I've seen a lot of positive things of late, especially today," said Penn junior tri-captain Traci Marabella, who is tied for the team lead with 25 points. "I think we have a lot of confidence. Yes, we lost by five [to Princeton], but we were up by one at halftime. "But I think that we shocked ourselves there -- and I think everyone is really happy with the way we played. So right now, our confidence level is great. We can definitely come out there and finish fifth in the Ivy League, which is a big step for us." To take this step, Penn must defeat a Brown team that resembles itself in a number of ways. Like the Quakers, the Bears have not been able to upend a top-20 team -- Brown is 0-5 in these games. And like the Quakers, the Bears have a lineup prominently led by underclassmen -- the team's two leading scorers, Rebekah Rottenberg and Meredith Goodell, are a sophomore and a freshman, respectively. "I know Penn is an up-and-coming team, as we claim to be as well," Brown coach Theresa Ingram said. "We play a lot of youth, and we hope to come out with a 'W,' but we realize that victories come not just in outcome but in other things as well." Another player the Quakers have to watch out for is Bears sophomore attacker Jocelyn Moore, who has four goals and seven assists this spring. But not to worry, Harper -- a high school teammate of Moore's at National Cathedral -- has that one covered. "It's really weird, actually, to play against someone you played with in high school," said Harper, who has faced other former teammates at Dartmouth and Columbia. "And they get really excited if they score on me, so it's a real competition to the bitter end." After recording a career-high 20 saves against Princeton, though, the odds are in Harper's favor. But for the Quakers offense -- which has been anemic in scoring just 15 goals in its past three games -- some changes are clearly necessary. A win in Providence, while very possible, will not come easily. The Bears stormed back from a 5-3 deficit to steal a 9-5 victory over Penn last spring. And this year, Brown has recorded a 4-2 mark at home. All indications point to a tight match in Providence -- but one the Quakers feel they can win. "We've been working for eight months, and this is it, the culmination right here," Harper said. "We haven't been fifth in a while -- we know we'll be better than seventh, but I'm not satisfied with that and I don't think anyone else is either."Comments powered by Disqus
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