Riding the crest of a two-game winning streak, the undefeated Harvard men's lacrosse team (2-0 overall, 1-0 Ivy) takes on Ancient Eight rival Penn tomorrow on Ohiri field at 1.
So far this season, Harvard has looked very impressive in a 14-11 win over Cornell and a 20-10 thrashing of Boston College.
Meanwhile, the Quakers (3-2, 0-2) have struggled of late, sandwiching losses to Yale and Navy around a win over Mount St. Mary's in their last three games.
However, a Harvard victory will not come easily.
"They are an Ivy League team so they are obviously pretty good," senior tri-captain Steve Gaffney said. "But they have been having a tough time."
Times for the Crimson are anything but tough. The up-and-coming squad looks to contend with fellow powerhouses Brown and Princeton for the Ivy League championship.
Harvard's success has come from a unique combination of seasoned veterans and highly talented freshmen. Depth throughout the lineup has been a key thus far for the Crimson.
"Our depth has really helped us out," Gaffney said. "It should be a key on Saturday as well."
Harvard has also exhibited a high-powered offense in the early going. Leading the charge has been junior attackman Mike Eckert, whose nine goals and seven assists place him fifth overall in the Ivy League scoring race.
Freshman Michael Ferucci--a fellow attackman--has emerged as a bonafide star, having scored eight goals in his first two games. His impressive efforts earned him this week's Ivy League Rookie of the Week award.
Should the offense fail to produce, Harvard will place its hopes in the capable hands (and stick) of sophomore goaltender Rob Lyng. Lyng has been at the top of his game so far and is third in the league with a 10.43 goals against average.
For Harvard to win tomorrow, it will have to put together two solid halves--one of the few things the Crimson has had trouble doing in this young season.
"We've fallen into a trap of not starting well," Wojcik said. "It'll take two good halves to beat Penn."
Harvard must also avoid looking past Penn to an exciting showdown with Duke next Saturday. The Blue Devils (5-1) are ranked sixth in the country, and they should give the Crimson, ranked 19th, an idea of how far it has come and how much farther it has to go to contend for a national championship.
Still, the most important consideration is an Ivy League title, and Harvard will be in good shape should it beat Penn.
"They Ivy League title is the key," Gaffney said. "That is our goal."
The Crimson can move one step closer to that goal tomorrow.