PHILADELPHIA - Entering her 30th season at Penn and 15th as head coach, Val Cloud has taken on the motto, "It's September or bust!" In reference to the month that played doom in 2008, she explains, "in order to be successful late in our season, we must show up ready to play in September."
Penn opens the 2009 season this weekend, first with a road trip to Monmouth University on Friday, followed by a Sunday contest with Virginia Commonwealth University at 1 p.m. on the Quakers' own Franklin Field.
The Red and Blue finished 6-11 overall in 2008, including a tie for third place (4-3) in the Ivy League, all after a 2-7 start and seven-game losing streak in the first month. With the combination of experienced returners and talented newcomers, the Quakers should be able to learn from last year and shower themselves in victories early on.
Despite graduating the team's top three scorers and goalie, Penn returns 13 letterwinners, including six regular starters. The Quakers will look to seniors Katie Rose, Kelsey Tahan, Katie Burke, Stephanie Ragg, Katie Moran, and Sarah Warner -- a second-team All-Ivy in 2008 -- to bring experience to the field. While the team's success will most likely be attributed to tenacious defense, Rose and Tahan will be expected to provide offensive leadership. Each recorded three goals last season.
Other returning letterwinners -- juniors Annie Matthews and Laurel McGarvie, and sophomores Erin Healy, Abigail Egan, Caroline Olt, Kirstin Snyder, and Kieran Sweeney -- will also play significant roles on both ends of the field.
Freshmen Sarah Hasson, Kyle deSandes-Moyer, Ketter Weissman, Breanne Medford, Mandy Epstein, Kaila McDonnell, Danielle Rothman, and Kat Muller will be looked to for contributions immediately.
The scoop on the opposition:
Monmouth: Monmouth has already played two games this season, gaining 2-1 victories over both Colgate and La Salle. The Hawks are led by seniors Enza Mazza and Sarah Keppel, junior Meredith Violi, and freshman Michelle Pieczynski who have each recorded a goal. Melissa Ketz boasts a .857 save percentage in the net through the first two games. The only other time the Quakers and Hawks met was October 12, 2005, when Penn came out on top 3-0.
VCU: VCU has started the 2009 season 1-0, with a win over Miami (Ohio). In their last meeting, Penn fell to the Rams 3-1 on September 14, 2008; the Quakers have a 0-2 all-time record against VCU.