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Heather Issing and the Quakers look to stay in contention for their first-ever Ivy crown when they face Princeton tomorrow. [Will Burhop/DP File Photo]

The young Penn women's soccer team faced its first big test before the regular season even started -- the Quakers squared off against perennial powerhouse Princeton in their second preseason game.

In that contest, the Red and Blue (12-1-2, 4-1 Ivy League) played the Tigers (12-1-1, 5-0 Ivy) to a scoreless tie.

This strong showing against an elite team was the first sign that Penn had tremendous potential.

"That was the night that everyone realized we would be a really good team," Penn senior tri-captain Sarah Campbell said.

But the Quakers did not realize then that the next time they would play Princeton -- noon this Saturday at Rhodes Field -- the Ancient Eight title might be on the line.

"Basically what we were told in the spring was that this was going to be a rebuilding year," Penn junior tri-captain Jen Valentine said. "We have surpassed all my expectations for this season."

Of course, the Red and Blue are exhilarated to be in their current position.

"We're all so excited and can't wait to get out on the field and play," Campbell said. "There is a lot of energy amongst the team."

With two games left in the regular season, the Quakers control their own destiny in their quest for the first Ivy crown in the history of Penn women's soccer. To accomplish that goal, however, the Red and Blue have to win this weekend's showdown against Princeton and, depending on other Ivy results, possibly next weekend's game against Harvard.

The Quakers and Tigers have proven to be the strongest squads in the Ivy League this year, which should make for a whistle-to-whistle battle on Saturday.

Penn features the most prolific offense in the Ivy League -- scoring a league-leading 10 goals in conference games and 35 goals overall. Princeton is the second most proficient offense in the Ivies with nine tallies in conference games and 31 goals overall.

On the other side of the ball, Princeton has been the most stingy. The Tigers' defense has allowed just two goals in conference play and seven overall. The Quakers have been the second most miserly team in the Ancient Eight -- allowing three scores in conference play and just nine in all games combined.

With such high-powered offenses and stingy defenses butting heads, something has to give.

The Quakers hope that their momentum and home-field advantage can be the edge they need to come out with a victory.

"Right now, we're on a high and, it being Homecoming, it's the perfect day to play Princeton," Campbell said.

However, the Tigers are also steamrolling through opponents like usual and will be more than ready to play their hearts out to capture another Ivy title.

That said, the team that does the little things will most likely be the victor.

"The winner won't be who wants it more, but who executes," Valentine said.

If the Quakers can execute and beat Princeton, they will have a shot at acquiring more than the Ivy title. They can get the respect they feel their team deserves.

Right now, Princeton is ranked 18th in the nation and Harvard 19th, while Penn has yet to grace the top 25.

"I think it's definitely the type of team and coaching staff that is looking good for the future and it's time Penn gets respect from the NCAA," Campbell said.

"The only way to do that is to win the Ivies, and we have a lot of potential to do that."

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