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Penn has advanced to the NCAAs for just the second time, and freshman stars Katy Cross, left, and Rachelle Snyder are a big reason why. [Jacques-Jean Tiziou/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

When the highly anticipated selection show for the Division I College Cup of Women's Soccer finally began at 3 p.m. yesterday, the Penn women's soccer team had very selective hearing.

The Quakers (13-1-3) -- most huddling into Penn coach Darren Ambrose's office and some taking over the office across the hall of Penn men's soccer coach Rudy Fuller -- wanted to hear nothing but words confirming that they would be playing another game this fall.

"We really didn't care about other teams," freshman forward Rachelle Snyder said. "We just wanted to hear our name."

Luckily for the anxious Quakers, they learned less than five minutes into the program -- broadcast via satellite from Indianapolis-- that they would be trekking northwest to Penn State to take on intrastate rival Villanova at 8 p.m. on Friday.

Penn -- ranked 25th in the nation and 5th in the Mid Atlantic region according to -- is pleased with drawing Villanova (12-5-3), ranked 8th in the Mid Atlantic region by the same poll.

"I just wanted to get a good matchup in the first round and I think we've got one," Ambrose said. "Villanova is not too overwhelming."

The Quakers and Wildcats met last year. Villanova handed Penn a 3-0 loss at Rhodes Field.

But this year's Penn squad is vastly improved from last season, giving the Quakers confidence in their ability to overcome the Wildcats.

If the Quakers are to defeat Villanova in Nittany Lion country Friday night, freshman phenom Katy Cross will surely be in the mix. Fittingly, on the same day that Penn learned of its second-ever College Cup berth, Cross was named Ivy League Player of the Week for her hat trick at Harvard last weekend.

For a team that has accumulated records, milestones, and accolades throughout the season, a win Friday night is only the next logical step.

"We've done a lot of firsts individually and as a team [this year]," Ambrose said. "Now we have an opportunity to do another one, which is to win a game in the NCAA tournament."

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