The Quakers will receive a welcome break from their challenging Ivy League schedule to take on the Delaware Blue Hens today in Newark, Del.
The match was originally scheduled for Feb. 26, but it was delayed due to poor weather conditions that prevented Delaware from making the commute.
Now, with weather not expected to be an issue, Penn (11-3, 1-2) has a chance to add another win to its record.
“They’re pretty solid,” said coach Nik DeVore of the Blue Hens. “They beat all of the other city teams pretty handily and they’re a step above some of the teams we played earlier in the season.”
The Red and Blue have played three consecutive Ivy matches prior to today’s match, all of which have come down to the wire. However, they pulled out victories in only one of the three and now sit in sixth place in the early league standings.
Thus, while the Blue Hens (5-5) will not be overlooked, Penn welcomes the chance to refocus against a nonconference team.
“We’re just going to go in there and practice on some stuff for the remaining Ivy League matches,” freshman Nikola Kocovic said. “We’ll get some more experience, which can’t hurt.”
The last time the two teams met — Feb. 27, 2010 — they were at very different stages in the season.
The Quakers were steamrolling through their nonconference competition and extended their winning streak to seven with a 5-2 win. At that point, the Blue Hens had only played one match prior to the loss.
This time around, however, things are a little different.
After a hot start, the Red and Blue have cooled down a bit, now having lost two of their last three matches.
Meanwhile, Delaware is nine games into the spring season, and has had difficulty maintaining a steady rhythm.
“It’ll be intense,” DeVore said. “We expect them to really fight hard for it — they have nothing to lose.”
Despite the slew of close matches in recent weeks, DeVore hopes today’s match will be just as challenging — as long as Penn can also secure a victory.
“We want them to really push some of our guys in the lineup and help us prepare for some of our other matches,” DeVore said.
But as Ivy competition heats up in April, it’s clear that while Penn looks to get a win against the Blue Hens, the main focus is on the Ancient Eight championship.
“All of the Ivy matches [across the League] have all been very tough,” DeVore said. “But we’ve got to move up, and we can experiment and try to build confidence as we go into the weekend.”
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