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PHILADELPHIA – Penn opens the 2014 women’s lacrosse season on Saturday as the Quakers host Delaware at Franklin Field at 1 p.m.
The Quakers, ranked No. 16 in this week’s IWLCA Coaches Poll, have won seven consecutive Ivy League championships – tied for the longest ever streak of Ivy titles. Penn’s fun of seven straight conference championships enters the 2014 season as the current longest streak of any team in the nation.
Last season, Penn finished with an 11-6 record, adding the Ivy League Tournament title to its hardware collection and making a seventh consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Red and Blue return 24 players from that team, including eight players who started 10 or more games.
Defensively, Penn returns four players who started 13 or more contests, led by unanimous first-team All-Ivy and first-team All-Region performer Meg Markham. She led the defense with 31 ground balls and 15 caused turnovers in 2013. Sophomore Lely DeSimone started all 17 games in her freshman season, ranking second on the team with 17 ground balls. A second-team All-Ivy and All-Region performer in 2011, Lydia Miller played 13 games in 2012 before suffering a season-ending injury which extended through all but one game last year. Her return to the lineup will add a fifth player with extensive experience to the back end.
The defensive group will stand with unanimous first-team All-Ivy and second-team All-Region goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson. She played all but five minutes for the Quakers last season and posted a.471 save percentage – tops in the Ivy League – to go with a second-best 8.84 goals-against average.
If there is an area Penn will need to sort out early in the season, it is on attack. The Quakers scored 168 goals last season, but will look to replace almost 57% of that scoring due to graduation and injury. Three of Penn’s top-six scorers graduated at the end of the 2013 season, and a fourth – reigning Ivy League Midfielder of the Year Shannon Mangini – is out for the year with an injury suffered in the fall. Sophomore Iris Williamson leads all returning active players with 25 goals scored last season, trailed by senior Tory Bensen who registered 23. Bensen leads all available players with 40 career goals. Sophomore Nina Corcoran finished her freshman season with four goals and five assists, but was coming on at the end of the season with a goal in the Ivy Tournament final against Dartmouth and two more in the NCAA Tournament against Virginia. Courtney Tomchik is another potential weapon on attack with 38 career goals. She had 28 in 2012 and 10 last season.
The Quakers will add seven players to their lineup for the 2014 season, with four midfielders, two attackers and a defender set to join Karin Corbett’s lineup. All-American twin midfielders Kendall and Lauren D’Amore join the Quakers from Canandaigua, N.Y. with plenty of championship pedigree. Emily Rogers-Healion and Sara Young round out the quartet of All-American midfielders joining Penn’s roster for 2014. On attack, two-time state champion in Maryland Kailey Wolfe and Long Island champion Sarah Barcia will look to take advantage of a new era in Penn’s attack. On defense, Philadelphia native Megan Kelly brings All-American pedigree to the Quakers.
The opponent for Penn in its opener, Delaware, has played two games to date and owns a 1-1 record. After a 19-11 loss to No. 10 Georgetown in its season opener, Delaware downed Lafayette, 11-5, this week to get in the win column. The Blue Hens broke open a tight game in the second half, turning a 4-4 tie with 21:51 to play into the final score with a 7-2 run. Caitlin McCartney had five goals in the win, including four in the second half. A first-team All-CAA selection and an All-Region honoree last year, McCartney is one of two Blue Hens with five goals to start the season, joined by Kara Dattellas.
Delaware graduated just one player from last year’s team which went 10-6, and returns a group which accounted for every one of its 177 goals in 2013. Last year, McCartney led the club with 41 goals, trailed by Chelsea Fay who had 38. Fay has four goals and an assist early in her senior season.
In goal, Alex Zaugra has started both games and is 1-1 with a 9.80 GAA. Last season, she started 14 times and posted a 7-4 record with a 9.38 GAA. Sophomore defender Erin Wein returns after an All-Rookie team performance in the CAA last season. She led the Blue Hens in 2013 with 18 caused turnovers and was third with 24 ground balls. She has four of each through two games this season.
The Quakers and Blue Hens have not met since 2007, a 13-6 win for the Quakers at Franklin Field. The Red and Blue burst out to a 7-1 lead in the first half and led 12-1 midway through the second half in that game, paced by Chrissy Muller and Becca Edwards who each had three goals. Overall in the all-time series, Penn is 5-2-1 against Delaware in eight meetings.