Penn football finally has its first home game this Friday, but it isn't the only team on campus to follow. Here are the top matchups other Red and Blue squads will face this coming weekend.
Field hockey's resurgent offense vs. Harvard’s tight defense
Seven games into the season, Penn field hockey (2-5, 1-0 Ivy) is finally clicking into gear.
The team was winless in its first five games. Those were tough contests: Four were played away from home and three involved nationally ranked opponents. However, the Quakers did not do themselves justice either, especially on the offensive end. They struggled to create scoring chances and only notched their first goal in the third game.
Last week, though, the Quakers’ offense seemed to flip a switch. The team scored a season-high five goals in its Ivy League season opener against Cornell and then registered a season-high 23 shots in a 2-1 win against Temple. Particularly impressive during that two-game stretch was sophomore forward Maddy Fagan, who scored three times in only four shots.
This week, the Red and Blue will take on No. 14 Harvard (5-2, 1-0). Having won their last four games, the Crimson boast a water-tight defense that leads the Ivy League with just 1.83 goals allowed per game. Their 1.62 goal margin also tops the League.
Going up against the Crimson defensive wall will show whether the Quakers’ offense is truly rejuvenated or if last week was a one-off spark. If the offensive unit asserts itself like it did then, Penn could be in line to get a positive result from the game.
Volleyball’s defense vs. strong Ivy League hitters
After dropping their Ivy League opener in straight sets at Princeton, Penn volleyball (7-3, 0-1) will look for their first League win when they return to the Palestra this weekend to host Cornell and Columbia.
The two New York Ivies played against each other last week, with the Big Red emerging victorious in three sets. Having come in third in the League last season, Cornell (8-2, 1-0) has seemingly stepped its game up a notch further this year and is currently riding a six-game winning streak. The team leads the Ancient Eight in hitting percentage as well as opponent hitting percentage, showcasing its dominance with and without the ball.
According to sophomore Carmina Raquel, who tops the Ivy League with 4.80 digs per game, her team will have to step up its game particularly on the defensive end to stand a chance of extinguishing the Big Red's hot streak.
“Obviously, defense will matter,” she said. “Being able to go after balls would be huge. Also, recovering quickly from any lost points is going to be critical for us.”
On the other hand, the Lions (7-4, 0-1), despite losing to Cornell in their season opener, are no pushover. The team is centered upon senior Chichi Ikwuazom, whose play at times has been unstoppable. Having been named Ivy League Player of the Week twice this season thus far, Ikwuazom is way ahead of the pack with 5.81 kills/set. She is also ranked third in the NCAA with a hitting percentage of .472.
It remains to be seen whether the Quakers will come up with a game plan specifically designed to nullify the threat of Ikwuazom. However, what is certain is that Raquel and the rest of the defensive unit are looking forward to testing their mettle against some of the League’s premier offensive players.
“My position group has been a really good backbone for me,” Raquel said. “They’ve been able to be my eyes and ears on and off the court, watching film to figure out every hitter’s tendencies, [visualizing] our opponents before games, and [strategizing] in timeouts.”
Women’s soccer from last week vs. the team's usual self
Penn women’s soccer might have dropped its first Ivy League game, but there is no reason for the Quakers to panic yet.
Last week’s 1-0 loss to Harvard was the first game this season in which the Red and Blue (5-3-1, 0-1) failed to score. Averaging 13.4 shots per game this season, the Quakers fired only eight shots at the Crimson goal, and only three were on target.
Returning to Rhodes Field to host Cornell (4-3-1, 0-1) this Saturday, Penn will look to return to winning ways with a home crowd behind them. To do so will depend on whether the Quakers can do what they have been doing all season: dominating the midfield, crafting scoring opportunities, and finishing those chances.
Penn will be looking for contributions from senior forward Emily Sands, who leads the team with four goals and assists apiece. The Quakers have not lost a game this season when Sands has either scored or assisted a goal, which demonstrates the impact she has on the offensive end of the field.
To repeat as Ivy League champions this year, the Quakers will need to impose themselves more against opposing defenses. The game against the Big Red, who are winless in their last four games, could offer them the opportunity to do just that.
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