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There is no better way to restore one's confidence than facing the perennial conference cellar dweller.

Tomorrow, the Penn women's lacrosse team (2-4, 0-2 Ivy League) will try to put a stop to its four-game losing streak when it faces Columbia (4-4, 0-3) on Franklin Field at 3 p.m.

Although the Lions have had a less than admirable run since joining the league in 1998, the Quakers are not underestimating their opponents from the Big Apple.

"Columbia is a team that's getting better and better each year, as every team is in the Ivies," Penn coach Karin Brower said. "I don't think we can take anyone lightly. We just need to get back to playing the way we can play."

Still, one cannot help but bring up the past. In its first four full seasons, Columbia has posted a dismal mark of 0-28 in Ancient Eight play.

This year, the Lions have continued to struggle in the Ivies, opening with an 0-3 conference mark. Columbia has been outscored 47-6 in those three contests.

There is a very legitimate reason why the Lions have struggled in conference play. At one point earlier this season, five of the Ivy League's eight teams were ranked among the nation's top 20 by the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association.

Four of those teams -- Princeton, Cornell, Dartmouth and Yale -- still remain. Only Penn has fallen out of that distinguished group.

"I think we really should be there [in the top 20]," Brower said. "The thing that got us out was our [12-8 home] loss [last week] to Temple, which is not a top 20 team."

However, Brower was quick to complement the Owls, who she believes will win the Atlantic-10.

"They're going to surprise a lot of people," Brower said. "They're a very aggressive team and a very good team. They were good last year, and they have eight returning starters. I think they deserve to be in the rankings."

At the same time, however, the third-year coach believes her team didn't play up to its potential against Temple.

"We didn't play so great against Temple," Brower said. "We were very stagnant on attack and looking for one person to do it all. We can't do that. We have to win as a team."

Thus, Penn's focus this weekend will be on its game, not Columbia's.

"We need to get back to what we have not been doing," Brower said. "We haven't been playing aggressively, playing to win. We've been playing a little tentative and have been afraid to make mistakes.

"I just want them to go out there, not be afraid to make mistakes, play with heart and hustle and start helping each other."

This is a better time than any for the Red and Blue to make those adjustments.

Following tomorrow's game, Penn will face three more unranked opponents in Delaware, Harvard and Rutgers. But the Quakers are forcing themselves not overlook any of those games.

These three teams will occasionally fail to capitalize on mistakes made by the Red and Blue. Ranked squads that the Quakers face in the second half of the season -- Dartmouth, Princeton and Duke -- will not.

Brower, however, is not looking that far ahead just yet.

"We still have opportunities ahead of us, but we need to take it one team at a time," Brower said. "We have to look at Columbia as our biggest game right now. I think if we play well and play our game, we can win."

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