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Women's lacrosse against Towson Credit: Pat Goodridge , Pat Goodridge

The stakes are rising for Penn women’s lacrosse.

Winners of eight consecutive Ivy League regular season titles, the resilient Quakers will face Princeton on Wednesday in a battle of Ivy League unbeatens, one that will likely determine the host of next month’s Ivy League Tournament.

No. 11 Penn (10-2, 4-0 Ivy) is feeling confident after an impressive 8-6 victory over Harvard last weekend that was fueled by a career-high six goals from junior attack Iris Williamson. The Quakers have kept a sharp focus at practice this week ahead of the matchup with Princeton (9-3, 4-0 Ivy), which coach Karin Corbett calls “the biggest game of the season.”

Last season, the Red and Blue fell to Princeton, 9-5, in the regular season contest after falling behind early, but avenged the defeat in the Ivy League Championship with a 9-6 triumph.

Previous seasons’ outcomes would suggest that winning the opening minutes of the midweek contest correlates with winning the game. But Corbett stressed the importance of competing for the entire contest.

“Both teams have the ability to start strong, but they both have the ability to come back,” Corbett said. “For us, it’s really about trying to have a complete 60 minutes, which is something we’ve been talking to our team a lot about.”

The Quakers’ chances of remaining undefeated in conference play are high if they can slow Princeton’s explosive pair of midfielders, Erin Slifer and Olivia Hompe.

Slifer, a senior, recently earned her third Ancient Eight Offensive Player of the Week award after scoring 11 points between road contests at Maryland and Cornell. She leads the Tigers with 44 points this season.

“She’s a great player,” Corbett said of Slifer. “She’s one of the top middies in the league. We’re going to have one of our best defenders match up on her.”

After a strong freshman year, Hompe has become one of the Ivy League’s most dangerous scoring threats this season. Her 30 goals lead Princeton and are good for fifth in the Ivy League.

On the other side, Penn’s success starts with its staunch defense, which will look to continue its consistent play on Wednesday against an opportunistic Princeton squad.

The Quakers’ defense is anchored by senior goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson, who is a stalwart in net. The Montclair, N.J., native leads the Ivy League with a 52.1 percent save percentage and a meager 6.25 goals allowed per game.

As a result, Penn’s defensive unit is characterized by experience and depth. Four Penn players have received Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors after senior defender Taylor Foussadier captured the award on Monday for shutting down Harvard’s leading scorer Marisa Romeo.

2014 Ivy League Defender of the Year Meg Markham — a senior who has captured two weekly awards this season — will also be relied upon heavily to slow Princeton’s attack.

“We have a lot of seniors and juniors who have been on the field for several years,” Corbett said. “The game is in their hands. [They know] what this is all about.”

While the Red and Blue have a number of award winners that contribute to their success, it is solid team play that they stress and pride themselves on.

“We’ve won because of our team defense and our team offense,” Corbett said. “It’s not about one person. We’ve got to have a real solid group of eight in the back who can stop a lot of their scorers, and we’ve got to have a balanced attack on the other side.”

If there’s any conference game that calls for the Quakers to bring their best on both sides of the field, it’s Wednesday’s matchup with Princeton.

The Quakers know the stakes. It’s now up to them to play their game and defend their home field like they have done all season.

“We know that it’s going to be a battle and that everything’s on the line right now,” Corbett said. “The team that takes this — the destiny is in that team’s hands.”

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