PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania men’s lacrosse team has once again constructed a monster schedule under head coach Mike Murphy. The season starts on Friday night, and what a way to start -- on the road against the defending national champions. The Quakers face off with Duke at 7 p.m., looking to earn their third win over the national power in five years.
GAME 1 – #18 PENN (0-0) vs. #2 DUKE (2-0)
Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 * 7 p.m.
Koskinen Stadium (Durham, N.C.)
TV: ESPN3.com (Ryan Craig, Art Chase)
The Series with Duke
The Quakers and the Bulldogs have met six times, with Penn holding a 4-2 lead in the series. These teams have played each of the last four years, splitting the four games with the home team winning each time. Last year, Penn defeated Duke 14-9 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia; two years ago, it was the Blue Devils taking a 12-8 decision in Durham.
The Blue Devils (2-0) are the defending NCAA champions and enter the week ranked second behind Syracuse after wins over Jacksonville (16-10) and Denver (14-10). Jordan Wolf leads Duke in scoring, with nine points (3g, 6a), while Josh Dionne, Deemer Class and Kyle Keenan have six points each. Dionne leads the Devils with five goals. At the other end, both Luke Aaron and Kyle Turri have seen action in both games; Aaron has an 8.05 GAA and a .588 save percentage, while Turri is at 11.50 and .188.
*Penn is ranked 18th in this week’s USILA national coaches poll, which is where the Quakers began the season. The other Ivy League teams currently ranked are Princeton (10), Yale (13) and Cornell (16), while Harvard is one of seven teams also receiving votes.
*Looking at Penn’s 12-game schedule, in addition to Duke, Princeton, Yale, Cornell and Harvard, the Quakers will face three other teams that are on the USILA ranking sheet this week: Denver (5), St. John’s (19), and Villanova (RV).
*This is nothing new for Penn under Coach Murphy; last year, the Quakers’ Strength of Schedule was ranked second at the end of the season (behind only Princeton), while in 2011 it ranked first.
*Penn was picked 11th in Inside Lacrosse’s Preseason Face-Off Yearbook; the ranking was made by the Inside Lacrosse staff. Among Ivy League teams, only Yale (10th) was ahead of the Quakers. Princeton (13th) and Cornell (17th) were also in the preseason Top 20.
*Three players earned preseason All-America honorable mention from Inside Lacrosse -- Losco, Meyer, and senior goalkeeper Brian Feeney.
*In addition, Penn was picked fourth in IL’s Ivy League preview, with Losco and Feeney receiving preseason All-Ivy recognition. The conference standings and All-Ivy team was projected by the Ancient Eight coaches.
*In January, Losco was picked in the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) Draft by the Charlotte (N.C.) Hounds. The senior middie was the 47th pick overall.
*Penn finished last year No. 1 nationally in scoring defense (7.38), eighth in man-up offense (.429), and ninth in caused turnovers per game (8.92).
*Individually, Feeney finished last year second nationally in goals-against average (7.29) and ninth in save percentage (.589). He played all but 2:29 between the pipes last year.
*Losco was Penn’s leading goalscorer a year ago, with 23, and he added six assists for 29 points.
*Junior Isaac Bock had 20 goals and five assists last season, finishing third on the Quakers’ scoring list, while Belinsky was fourth with 23 points (14g, 9a).
*Meyer was second on the team last year in caused turnovers (20) and also had 36 ground balls.
*On the X, Danny Feeney -- Brian’s twin brother -- took 203 face-offs last year and won 110 of them for a .542 win percentage. That was good for 25th nationally.
*Overall, this year’s Penn team boasts 10 players who started at least five games last season: Losco (13), Belinsky (13), Meyer (13), B Feeney (13), D Feeney (13), Bock (5), Matt McMahon (12), Will Laco (11), Chris Hupfeldt (7), and Nick Doktor (6).
*Penn’s game against St. John’s on April 25 will be played at Radnor (Pa.) High School as part of the Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival. The charity event has become arguably the largest lacrosse event in Southeastern Pennsylvania, but this was the first college game as part of the festivities.
*Penn has six players who were UnderArmour All-America selections in high school: seniors Drew Belinsky and Brian Feeney; sophomores Nick Doktor, Pat Berkery and Sam Rohr; and freshman Kevin Gayhardt.
*Two other players, Berkery and sophomore Rob Savage, were on the Garden City (N.Y.) team that was ranked No. 1 at the end of 2012.
*If the Savage name looks familiar to Penn fans, your intuition is correct -- Rob is indeed the brother of Dan Savage, who graduated two years ago and played four years on the Quaker lacrosse team.
*Penn lacrosse also is a family affair for McCallion, whose older sister, Kelly, graduated last year after playing four years on the Quakers' women’s lacrosse team; she was part of four Ivy League championship squads.
*If the Quakers go to overtime, beware Drew Belinsky; as a freshman, he scored the OT winner in two different games, against Yale and Harvard.
Penn is at Franklin Field for its next two games, starting Tuesday night when the Quakers host city rival Saint Joseph’s at 7 p.m. Next Saturday, Penn entertains No. 5 Denver at 1 p.m.