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Credit: Varun Sudunagunta

The Red and Blue will head to upstate New York for their only pair of back-to-back road games this weekend.

Penn field hockey, looking to build upon its close win last weekend against cross-town rival, Drexel, opens up Ivy League play as it faces Cornell on Saturday before making the short trek to face the Syracuse on Sunday. 

After squaring off against four ranked opponents in one of the nation's toughest early season slates, the Red and Blue (3-3) will hope to carry that momentum when it faces conference rival Cornell (1-5), a team that is looking to land on its feet after a struggling in its out of conference schedule.

Last year, Penn beat the Big Red 2-0 at home, dominating possession throughout the game. The Quakers are seeking their fourth straight win over the Big Red. 

Penn will aim to use its defense to stifle the already struggling Cornell offense. In their five losses this season, the Big Red have scored just two goals. Outside of Penn’s lopsided loss against No. 2 North Carolina, the team has allowed just nine goals in five games. Still, Cornell's lone win this season came at home. 

After this game, the Quakers will venture to Syracuse to face the Orange (4-3). Though not in the same conference, Syracuse is a familiar foe as it went head to head with Penn last season in Philadelphia. Ranked No. 10 in the nation at the time, the Orange fell victim to the Red and Blue in an upset 3-2 defeat.

This weekend’s fight will be the teams’ third in three years, with Syracuse winning 4-0 in 2016. Before that, the teams had not played in over ten years, with the Orange undefeated against the Quakers until last year’s game.

The matchup will be different this year, though. Going into last year’s matchup, Syracuse was riding a streak of 107 weeks in the national ranks, dating all the way back to 2008. Though the Orange have fallen out of the nation’s best, they have performed well against a tough schedule so far in 2018.

Syracuse and Cornell have shared a few opponents so far this year, with the Orange fairing much better. Both teams have played against Bucknell and Vermont, with Cornell losing those respective games 5-0 and 2-1. Syracuse earned 3-0 and 4-1 wins respectively. Penn’s Saturday game against the Big Red will be a good indicator for how they will fair against a traditionally strong Syracuse opponent.

The Quakers are poised to begin Ivy play on the right foot, and with a win against a storied program like Syracuse, they can prove that their treacherous schedule in the early season paid dividends.