This past weekend, Penn men's soccer secured its first win over Columbia since 2011. Now, the Quakers find themselves at the doorstep of an Ivy League title, with a bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
Penn (11-2-2, 5-1 Ivy) currently stands alone atop the Ancient Eight standings, on account of Cornell’s draw with Yale this past Saturday. However, the Big Red (12-3-1, 4-1-1) are not out of the running just yet. With only one game left in the regular season, the naming of Ivy League champion will come down to Penn’s matchup with Princeton, and Cornell’s matchup with Columbia this upcoming Saturday, Nov. 12.
The Tigers (6-5-4, 1-2-3) are the reigning Ivy champs, but currently hold the fifth spot in Ancient Eight standings after struggling with low-scoring performances in conference games as of late.
Of the nine possible scenarios that can play out, Penn corals a title in eight of them. The Red and Blue can clinch the championship and an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament with either a win or a tie. Should Penn draw and Cornell win, the two teams would share the Ivy title, but Penn would collect the automatic tournament berth – by virtue of defeating the Big Red in its head-to-head match earlier in the season.
If Penn loses and Cornell wins this weekend, the Quakers would fall to second place in the Ivy standings, losing the championship title and its automatic berth.
In such a case, though, the Quakers wouldn’t be entirely out of hope. Penn can still be awarded an at-large bid by the NCAA DI Men’s Soccer Committee.
A total of 48 teams will punch a ticket to the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer tournament, with 23 of them being automatic qualifiers (AQ) from each participating conference. 20 of the AQs earn their spot by winning their respective conference tournament, but the remaining three are decided by conference standings — the Ivy League included. The rest of the field is filled through 25 at-large bids determined by the committee. The top 16 seeds in the tournament also earn a first-round bye and automatically advance to the second round.
The committee will look at head-to-head competition, adjusted Rating Percentage Index (RPI), results against teams already selected, and performance in the last eight games when the time for at-large selections comes — all promising criteria for the Red and Blue.
Penn had a 10-game undefeated streak snapped following its loss to Harvard on Oct. 29. Aside from this, the Quakers still boast a 6-1-1 record in its previous eight games and haven’t had an issue finding the back of the net or shutting out opponents all season.
The top 16 seeds and at-large bids will be announced at 1 p.m. ET on Nov. 14, with first-round play beginning just three days after.
Penn men’s soccer is one undefeated game away from its most successful season since 2013. For Penn to be dubbed as Ivy League Champions and secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament, the Quakers will have to beat two teams on Saturday, rather than one.