Penn women’s lacrosse consistency plays the top teams in the country.
This weekend, that means a matchup with No. 11 Northwestern on Sunday.
This game features one of the nation's top offenses against one of the best defenses. This season, Northwestern (7-3, 1-0 Big Ten) goalie Julie Krupnick has been one of the nation's best, surrendering just 9.48 goals per game. Krupnick leads all Big Ten goalies in that category among players who have appeared at at least nine games.
Offensively, the Quakers (8-1, 2-0 Ivy) feature a highly potent tandem in sophomore Gabby Rosenzweig and freshman Zoe Belodeau. In one less game, the two Tewaaraton Award candidates have a combined 25 more points than Northwestern’s top two point getters.
In this game, the key for the Quakers will be slowing down preseason All-American Selena Lasota on offense and minimizing the impact Shelby Fredericks has on draw controls.
After missing most of last season to injury, Lasota has put together a solid season, ranking seventh in the Big Ten in points per game. Fredericks, despite only playing in six games this season, has 56 draw controls. To put that in perspective, Belodeau, Penn’s best in that category, has 47 in nine games.
Penn and Northwestern have been two of the best programs in women’s college lacrosse over the past decade. Penn is going for its third straight Ivy League championship and has not suffered more than one loss in league play since 2012.
Northwestern won the national championship in seven of the nine years spanning 2005 to 2013. Despite not achieving that same level of dominance recently, the Wildcats have reached the tournament each season since 2013.
Penn will hope to avoid another underperformance against a ranked opponent. Last weekend the Quakers welcomed No. 2 Maryland to Franklin Field in a game that got out of hand early. The Terrapins scored the first five goals of the game, never relinquishing the lead in a convincing 13-7 win.
Penn started off similarly slow against Brown, falling behind 7-2 late in the first half. However, the Quakers' talent was able to make up the deficit against a team Penn has dominated in the past.
Still, a similar start against Northwestern could spell doom for the Quakers. With Northwestern’s strong defense and goalie play, it will be hard for the Red and Blue to dig themselves out of an early hole.
On the season, Penn is 3-1 against ranked opponents. If the Quakers play like they did in the second half against Brown, it is very likely they will improve to 4-1.