The women's NCAA lacrosse tournament is becoming familiar to the Penn Quakers, and not simply because a win today would place them in the final four for the second straight season.
The second-seeded Quakers are set to square off against Boston University - the team the Quakers beat in the first round last season - in the quarterfinals at Drexel's Vidas Field.
Not only that, but assuming the tournament's higher seeds continue to win, the Quakers also would face Maryland in the semifinals and Northwestern in the championship game. Last year, the Quakers bested Maryland in the quarterfinals before falling to Northwestern in the final four.
"We've seen them before and have beaten them," midfielder Allison Ambrozy said. "It comforts people to know that and know what they're going to face."
Coach Karin Brower didn't think the familiarity would put the Quakers at an advantage or a disadvantage in their pursuit of the program's first national title.
Whether or not the teams have met, "at this stage, you're going to have great competition," Brower said.
To even have a chance to face those other familiar teams, the Quakers (15-1) must get by the seventh-seeded Terriers (18-2), who stormed through the America East Conference and carry a 15-game winning streak.
The Terriers have six players who have at least 20 goals, including three who have more than 40. Sarah Dalton leads the Terriers with 69 goals and 82 points.
The Quakers beat the Terriers, 11-5, last year in the tournament, but Ambrozy said her team was anticipating a tougher time.
"They like to push the fastbreak," Ambrozy said. "They are definitely better than last year."
But the Quakers' offense has come on lately, too. Penn posted 15 goals in its regular-season finale, against Temple, which lost to Maryland in the first round. The Quakers followed that with a season high of 16 against Cornell on Sunday.
"We have a lot of different kids who can score, which is how we've been so successful," Brower said. "We've had a lot of teams try to face-guard our players this year, but it hasn't really worked."
Ambrozy said the offense began to click as the Quakers prepared to play Northwestern late this season. The Quakers won, 11-7, upending the nation's top-ranked team.
"Ever since then, the ball movement and everything on our attack has clicked," she said. "I'm so proud of the girls on the offensive side. You can put any seven girls out there and they can click."
Game of the week.
Johns Hopkins vs. Navy, in Annapolis, Md. In the NCAA men's tournament, the Midshipmen upset fourth-seeded North Carolina last week to set up a rivalry match today in the quarterfinals.
The Blue Jays have won 34 straight games in the series, dating back to 1975, but six of the last nine have been decided by one goal. Three of those games went to overtime.
The Wings couldn't get by the first round of the National Lacrosse League playoffs, but raked in individual awards.
Athan Iannucci, who set a single-season record of 71 goals, was named the league's MVP and a first-team all-pro.
Geoff Snider, who broke the single-season record for loose balls with 244, won second-team all-pro honors, while Merrick Thomson and Jamie Rooney were named to the all-rookie team.
The Barrage will launch the Major League Lacrosse season tomorrow against the Washington Bayhawks at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex in Virginia Beach, Va.