For Penn, Saturday's opener at Duke showed a lot of positives. The Quakers were up early and kept its lead into the fourth quarter. The teams were still tied with just under five minutes to go, before the Blue Devils -- playing their third game this season -- exploded for five unanswered goals to pull out the 16-11 victory.
"We played hard, and for the most part we played pretty well," said head coach Mike Murphy. "I think the guys saw that if they play like they did on Saturday they can play with anybody. However, one of the values of a game like that is that you get to see where you need to improve and what you need to work on."
Despite their relative proximity, Penn and Lafayette have not met in men's lacrosse since 2003 when the Quakers gained a 9-4 victory at Franklin Field. That ended a stretch of 10 straight years that the teams met, with Penn easily winning all of them.
While Penn, like all the Ivy League schools, is a bit behind the rest of the country in terms of games played, the Quakers are working quickly to catch up by playing all seven of their non-conference games in a 17-day period. Following Wednesday night's game, Penn plays twice this weekend in Denver, then hosts city foes Saint Joseph's and Villanova the following Wednesday and Saturday before going to another ACC school, Maryland, on Monday, March 15.
The Leopards are 2-0 for the first time since 1997, and with wins over Fairfield (15-10) and Binghamton (12-9) they have earned the No. 20 spot in this week's USILA National Coaches' poll. Steve Serling and Tom Perini lead the offensive charge, as both players have six goals. Serling also has four assists. Matt Mersky has five goals. At the other end, Vinny DePasquale has an impressive .604 save percentage and a 9.50 goals-against average.
* Sophomore Dan Savage and junior Corey Winkoff led Penn offensively over the weekend; Savage scored twice and assisted two other goals, while Winkoff had four assists which gives him 47 for his career. He needs 14 to crack the program's all-time Top 10.
* Junior Al Kohart and freshman Rob Fitzpatrick each had a goal and an assist in the game, while junior Julian Maldonado scored a goal; for Fitzpatrick and Maldonado, they were their first collegiate points.
* Senior Justin Lynch won 13 of his 28 faceoffs Saturday, while senior Brian Jackson was a perfect 2-of-2 on the X. Lynch finished the game with eight ground balls, while Joe Kelly and Conneely had three apiece.
* In goal, Chris Casey made 10 saves.
* Penn returns 17 letterwinners and loses 10 from the 2009 team that finished 5-8 overall including a 2-4 Ivy League mark.
* Penn -- which is looking for its third NCAA postseason bid in seven years after not having one from 1989 to 2003 -- has finished .500 or better in the Ivy League four of the last six years, including a 4-2 record in 2006.
Quoting Coach Murphy
"We need to sustain the level of intensity that we had Saturday at Duke, not just Wednesday night but really throughout the year. At the same time, we need to raise our level of execution."
"I would be surprised if Lafayette does not come out playing hard and playing well. They have a really good offense, and some middies who will give us all we can handle. We need to defend them as a full seven-man unit."
"I was pleased -- and I know this sounds very administrative -- but I thought we traveled well over the weekend. By that I mean the guys didn't get distracted, and we didn't lose our sense of doing things the right way."
"This trip will be a different scenario than Duke, which was an overnight trip. To get the guys from an academic to an athletic mindset can be difficult. We are doing what we can to keep the four hours prior to the game as routine as possible -- we will eat, we will bus up, and we will be at the locker room around the same time as usual."