Penn is coming off one of its best seasons in 13 years, as it advanced to the first round of the NCAA torunament for the first time since 1989. With 20 of Penn’s 25 letterwinners returning and a solid incoming freshman class - the Quakers look to pick up where they left off last season and bring the Ancient Eight trophy back to Franklin Field.
The Red and Blue may have lost last year’s leading scorer and top-notch goalkeeper in Will Phillips and Ryan Kelly, but they have a lot of depth and several key players who can fill those shoes.
“We have a good core of experienced players returning this season,” Head Coach Brian Voelker said. “This team is filled with leaders and tough competitors.”
Among those leaders are returning Ivy League Honorable Mention recipeint D.J. Andrejewski and seniors Zandy Reich and Brian Amen. The trio will serve as team captains and hope to lead the Red and Blue to another successful season on Franklin Field.
Penn returns five of their top-six scorers from 2004, all who recorded double-digit points. With the graduation of All-American Will Phillips, the go-to-guy is up for grabs. Looking to fill those shoes will be Jimmy Riordan, Luke Dixson and Alex Salihi. Riordan is a two-year starter whotalled 17 goals and one assist last season.
Dixson missed the majority of last year with an injury, but came back in the second half of the season. “He is a quick ball carrier with a very good shot.”
Sophomore Luke Wilson came on strong at the end of last season and could have a chance to contribute in 2005. Freshmen Andy Chima, Glenn Goebels, Tim Hlavin and Dean Nacey are all newcomers who could make an impact as well.
Junior co-captain D.J. Andrzejewski was one the Red and Blue’s best middies as a sophomore and second on the team in scoring last season. The All-Ivy honorable mention selection scored 11 goals and added 13 helpers. According to Voelker, Andrzejewski has incredible desire and is a tireless worker and will serve as a captain because of his strong leadership skills.
Andrzejewski is just one of several players who could play an offensive threat as well as Riordan and senior co-captain Zandy Reich. “Reich is a three-year starter, who is extremely quick, plays hard and is an all-around middie,” Voelker said.
Fellow classmate Brian Amen, juniors P.J. Gilbert, Patrick Rogers and Alan Eberstein and sophomore Mark Becker could also see action in the midfield this spring as well. Gilbert collected 12 goals as a sophomore, while Rogers, Becker and Eberstein combined for 11 tallies.
The midfield boasts a group of very athletic student-athletes who bring different assests to the field. Eberstien is very good at ground balls and will be the point man on face-offs. Freshman David Matz and junior Tyson Rupprecht will challenge for the face-off position.
Freshman Garrett Blomquist, sophomores David Cornbrooks and Sam Oher and senior Greg Voigt were all in the mix during the fall campaign and will by vying for playing time in the spring.
Freshman Spencer Rhoda and sophomore Alex Staffier are both young talented student-athletes who work hard and could earn some playing time this season.
Senior J.T. Pitcher, juniors Andrew Blechman and Joe Shanagan and sophomore Matt Kelleher round out the defense for the Red and Blue. Blechman started every game last season and plays hard. Kelleher started in every game but two as a freshman and is a great off ball defender. Shanagan will be the starting long pole. “He plays tough defrense and is very good on ground balls,” Voelker said.
Competing with Shanagan for the long stick poistion will be junior Tucker Ivey and freshman Max Mauro.
Pitcher served as the fourth defenseman last year and started in two games. Senior Jamie Arestia, and sophomores Mark Haase and Duncan Swanston will battle with Pitcher for the third and fourth spots on defense.
Junior Jeffrey Mills should be the Red and Blue’s starting short stick defensive midifielder with Michael Saslow providing back-up.
A tough spot for the Quakers will be the net as the Red and Blue lost All-American Ryan Kelly to graduation. Senior Dennis Cole and sophomore Greg Klossner are just two of the Quakers’ four goaltenders who could step into that role. “Cole is a position goalie with good leadership skills,” Voelker said. “While Klossner has good size with quick hands and is very good on clears.”
Sophomore Ben Newton and freshman Kris Hermann are both young goaltenders who will improve with more experience and hard work.
Franklin Field was a friendly place for the Red and Blue in 2004, the Quakers hope the magic will continue at 235 South 33rd Street when they play their home opener against Yale on March 19. The Quakers will play in three scrimmages against Binghamton, nationally-ranked Towson and Rutgers. Penn will play five games in Franklin Field including a key match-up against defending Ivy Champions Princeton. Penn will have tough Ancient Eight opponents on the road in Cornell and Dartmouth.
The Red and Blue will close out the regular season against Maryland at Lincoln Finincial Field - the host site of the 2005 NCAA Lacrosse Championships.
Written by Heather Palmer, associate director of athletic communications.