PHILADELPHIA - Following a loss Friday night in the Ivy League Tournament semifinal round, it was a long 50 hours for the Penn men's lacrosse team to have to wait to find out if its stellar regular-season performance would be enough to get the Quakers into the NCAA Championship field.
The wait had a happy ending. It did not take long before the Penn players saw their name and logo come up on ESPNU's bracket during the selection show televised Sunday night. The Quakers are in, and will travel to Notre Dame to face the fourth-seeded Fighting Irish Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. The game will be televised live on ESPNU.
"We are excited," said second-year head coach Mike Murphy, who led the Quakers to their first NCAA appearance since 2006. "We practiced at 7 p.m. today, and then gathered to watch the show. It got loud when we came up on the screen. It was a good feeling."
This will be Penn's 11th NCAA Championship appearance, but just its third since 1989. (In addition to 2006, the Quakers also played in the postseason in 2004.) The meeting with Notre Dame will be the fifth between the programs, but the first since 2003.
Penn finished the regular season with an 8-5 record, its best since that 2006 team went 10-4, and the Quakers' 4-2 mark in the Ivy League was their best since 2006. Penn finished second in the Ivy standings, its best placement since 1989. What helped Penn's at-large credentials was certainly its strength of schedule - the Quakers entered the weekend with the fourth-best schedule according to Laxpower.com. In all, the Red and Blue played eight teams ranked in this week's USILA coaches poll, four of which were top-10 teams.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, enters the NCAAs with a two-game losing streak just like Penn. The difference is that they were the Irish's first losses this season after a 10-0 start that put them at the top of the rankings for several weeks. ND's losses came to No. 1 seed Syracuse and seventh-seeded North Carolina. Notre Dame advanced to the championship game of last year's NCAA Championship, losing in overtime to Duke.