One of the closest rivalries, both in proximity and recent success, in the sport of women's squash will resume Wednesday night in Philadelphia and, fittingly, it will feature two teams separated by one spot in the national poll. Fourth-ranked Princeton will take on No. 3 Penn in a must-win match for both teams in the Ivy League race.
Princeton (5-1, 1-1 Ivy) will take on Penn (5-2, 1-1 Ivy) at 6 pm with hopes of both altering recent history in the City of Brotherly Love and keeping pace with the top-ranked Harvard Crimson in the Ivy League race. Wednesday's winner will remain one back of the Crimson, which defeated both teams in Boston during the middle weekend of January.
While the series has been as close as possible recently — both teams have won five of the last 10 meetings — Penn is a perfect 3-0 at Ringe since 2008. All three matches were either 5-4 or 6-3 Quaker wins, including a 5-4 victory in 2008 that led the Quakers to an Ivy League title.
Later that season, those two teams would meet again on Howe Cup Sunday for the national championship, and Princeton walked out of Jadwin that day with both a win and its second of three straight national championships.
Both teams split a pair of matches last season. Princeton won a stunning 9-0 home decision over Penn during the regular season, while the Quakers bounced back for a win in the third-place match during the Howe Cup weekend.
Penn's only losses this season have come on the road to No. 1 Harvard and No. 2 Trinity. Princeton, while having the opportunity to host the 2014 national team championships, will have to play the top three teams in the rankings on the road during the regular season; the Tigers will travel to No. 2 Trinity Feb. 15 for a 1 pm match.
Wednesday's match could also give an early indication on the favorite for Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors. Princeton freshman Maria Elena Ubina has lost only once at the No. 1 spot, and she could take on Penn's Anaka Alankamony, who also owns only one loss and owns a win over 2013 national individual finalist Kanzy El Defrawy of Trinity.
Both players lost to Harvard's Amanda Sobhy, the two-time reigning national champion.