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The road back to the Final Four will not be a straight shot for the women's lacrosse team.

Sunday's announcement of the 2010 NCAA tournament bracket placed the Quakers (14-3) — ranked fourth in the deBeer media poll — at the No. 8 seed. The Red and Blue will take on unseeded Boston University in the first round Saturday, and will most likely have to beat No. 1 Maryland (18-1) in order to reach the semis. The Terrapins defeated the Quakers, 12-6, at Franklin Field earlier this year and have lost only to North Carolina (15-2), who earned the Tournament's No. 3 seed.

For the last three years, Penn has received a top four seed to the NCAA Tournament, guaranteeing it a home game in the first and second rounds. This year, however, the Quakers won't play at Franklin Field in the first round game as a result of this weekend's graduation festivities. Instead, the Quakers will host the Terriers at Immaculata University in Malvern, Pa., about 40 minutes from Penn's campus. Assuming seeds hold, the Quakers would have to travel to Maryland in the second round of this year's tournament.

While senior captain Ali DeLuca said the Quakers have a history of being under seeded, the drop from No. 4 in the media poll to the No. 8 seed was the biggest decline the seniors — who have won Ivy titles in each of their four years — have experienced on selection day.

"I was pretty shocked that we got the eight seed," DeLuca said. "I think we all are."

Yet Penn has not defeated any of the teams in this year’s tournament, which likely contributed to its lower seed. In its first game against a ranked opponent this season, the team fell 11-6 to UNC. Just a month later, the Quakers were defeated by five-time defending National Champion Northwestern (17-1) — who received the tournament’s No. 2 spot.

The Quakers' hopes for a top-four seed also suffered due to the subpar finishes of their Ivy counterparts. Not only did Princeton fail to qualify for the tournament for the first time since 1997, but the Tigers had a losing season for the first time since coach Chris Sailer's inaugural year in 1987. Dartmouth, ranked No. 10 by the media, had the best chance of any Ivy for at-large bid but was left out. With the Big Green out of the tournament, Penn's two wins over the Big Green -- the Quakers' only victories over a top 15 opponent -- were devalued.

Although the Quakers only losses came at the hands of the top three teams in the tournament--albeit by a combined 35-20--those games were ultimately Penn's only opportunities to pick up a win over a top nonconference opponent.

As DeLuca summed it up, "it was a combination of the Ivy League [being] not as good and us losing to those three teams. ... We don't have a big win or a bad loss."

The Quakers must now move past the seeding slight and focus on the Terriers. Saturday will mark the third time in four years BU and Penn have faced off in the NCAAs. The current seniors faced BU in the first round as freshmen, winning 11-5 at Rhodes Field in the first round. Then, in 2008, the Quakers won 8-5 in the second round at Franklin Field.

"They're always a fun team to play," DeLuca said of the Terriers. "After two years, I'm sure they'll be out for revenge."

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