Penn faces a difficult task Saturday in the NCAA Division I women's lacrosse tournament against top-seeded Maryland.
The Quakers (15-3) must win on the road to gain their fourth consecutive Final Four berth. In each of the three previous seasons, Penn was a top-four seed and got a home game when the field was cut to eight. This year, the team is No. 8.
Penn's only losses this season were to the top-three seeds: Maryland, Northwestern, and North Carolina.
"We're the underdogs, and there's a little less pressure on us," Quakers coach Karin Brower Corbett said. "My team really rises to that. They know that they have to earn their respect out there, and show they're better than an eighth seed."
The game is scheduled for noon at the Terrapins' Ludwig Field.
Maryland (19-1), which is trying to reach the national semifinals for the second straight year, defeated host Penn, 12-6, on April 2. The game was tied, 3-3, after 25 minutes. But a 4-0 run over a period of 10 minutes, 20 seconds put Maryland in control.
"We got down by a couple of goals, and we stayed a couple of goals down," Penn goalie Emily Szelest said. "We're going to have to play good team defense, and be cohesive down there. We've been preparing all week, and I really believe we can beat these guys."
The Quakers practiced for two hours Thursday at Franklin Field and left Friday for College Park, Md.
Szelest is one of eight Penn seniors getting their last opportunities to make the title game and win it. The Quakers lost to Northwestern in the championship game in 2008, when Szelest and her classmates were sophomores.
As freshmen, they helped the Quakers advance to the Final Four for the first time ever. Penn lost to eventual champion Northwestern that year, too, and last season the Wildcats eliminated the Quakers in the semifinals with a 13-12 decision after two overtimes.
"I think, obviously, Maryland is a great team," said senior midfielder Ali DeLuca, the Ivy League player of the year. "But after the last three years, it's a common goal of ours to get back to the Final Four. If we learn from the mistakes we made last time, we can come out with the win. This is our last chance."
Penn-Maryland NCAA Quarterfinal
What: NCAA women's lacrosse tournament.
Who: Penn at Maryland.
When: Saturday at noon.
Where: Ludwig Field, College Park, Md.
Records: Penn, 15-3; Maryland, 19-1.
The skinny: Top-seeded Maryland is 39-1 at home under fourth-year coach Cathy Reese. Last year, the Terrapins reached the Final Four and fell to North Carolina, 8-7, in the semifinals. Maryland is led by repeat Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Caitlyn McFadden, and ACC rookie of the year Katie Schwarzmann. Reese was the coach of the year. The Terrapins had a league-high five players on the all-ACC team. Maryland was a cochampion of the conference.
- Kevin Tatum