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Men's Lacrosse vs Denver Credit: Christina Prudencio , Christina Prudencio

This weekend, Penn men’s lacrosse will take on a familiar foe ­- in both proximity and in style.

The No. 13 Red and Blue are gearing up for their third game of the season against Villanova in hopes of earning their first road victory.

Last weekend Penn (2-1) and the Wildcats (1-2) both had the same style of play. Both squads fell victim to their opponents early in the game and tried to take back control and make a run from behind in the fourth period.

“Every day in practice we emphasize starting out fast, and that’s kind of hard because we are playing a lot of good teams,” junior defense Matt McMahon said. “Your tendency is to hesitate a little in the beginning, but I think we are working on that every day.”

“To start a little bit faster, we’re going to do more live work with our first group on offense against our first group on defense further into the week which is a slight adjustment,” coach Mike Murphy added. “Then hopefully just stick to our fundamentals as well in the early part of the game.”

However, there was one critical difference - Penn succeeded while the Wildcats did not. The Quakers rallied back to beat then-No.6 Denver, 12-10, while Villanova came up short against Delaware, 11-9.

“Playing hard in the fourth quarter is something we are good at because of the many guys that we play, so that’s more a stylistic thing,” McMahon said. “I think we just play more players than most teams, and it plays off in the fourth quarter.”

Penn has faced fourth quarter deficits in two of its three contests this season.

And if there was ever a time to stop that risky trend, it will be right now.

Saturday will be the Quakers’ final game before they begin their Ivy season against Princeton on March 15, where there is no margin for error.

“Our goal every year is to win the Ivy championship, so if we lose this game it doesn’t put us any closer or further than that, but in terms of momentum, it’s definitely huge,” McMahon said.

But the Wildcats are a familiar foe to many of the Quakers.

“We know a lot of these guys, especially since I’m from Jersey and a lot of the Villanova guys are from Jersey,” McMahon said. “A lot of us know each other, grew up playing each other and it’s kind of fun to play your buddies.”

In addition to the plethora of social connections, Philadelphia teams enjoy playing each other in every way.

“It’s a pretty significant local rivalry,” Murphy said. “We are both in the top 20 most of the time when we are playing them, and we recruit a lot of the same kids and obviously they are close by, so there’s a little bit of excitement behind this.”

As Penn continues to fine- tune its lineup and settle itself, Saturday will be the final chance to hone crucial skills before the games that affect the Quakers’ dream of an Ivy title begin.

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