PHILADELPHIA - Having passed the midway point of the season, the Penn men’s lacrosse team suddenly finds itself looking at a daunting schedule and has a bit of urgency with regard to the postseason.
At 4-3 overall, and needing to finish above .500 to even receive consideration for an NCAA berth, the Quakers can look at this week’s USILA national coaches’ poll and see four of its six remaining opponents in the Top 20 -- Princeton (15th), Brown (16th), Maryland (3rd) and Army (14th). That leaves only two without a ranking, and one of them comes up Saturday in the form of Dartmouth.
Must-win? Probably. Never mind the impact Saturday’s game at Memorial Field has on Penn’s overall record; a win would also keep the Quakers in the hunt for the Ivy crown, at 3-1. A loss, however, would almost certainly doom their chances in the Ancient Eight chase.
“We cannot worry about what Cornell or any of the other Ivies are doing,” said head coach Brian Voelker. “We need to concern ourselves with what we do against Dartmouth. This game is important to the league, but it is also important overall. When you only have 13 chances in a season, there is not a lot of room for error.”
Penn -- which received votes from the USILA committee for this week’s poll -- still has some obstacles to face with the Big Green, however. For one thing, Dartmouth has not lost at home this season, going 3-0 in Hanover. For another, the Big Green is sure to come out loaded for bear after last year’s game in Philadelphia, when Penn overcame a 7-3 deficit in the final quarter to pull out an 8-7 victory.
Then there is the matter of last week’s game at Franklin Field, when Cornell punched the Quakers in the mouth and they never recovered in falling, 13-5.
“We have always preached to our guys that they should not get too high after a big win, or too low after a tough loss,” said Voelker. “No one was happy about what happened last weekend. I think the guys will be ready; they know we are walking into a game against a tough team that will be ready to go. We need to play well, and if that happens hopefully good things will follow.”
Following Saturday’s contest in Hanover, Penn has a quick turnaround as it travels to No. 15 Princeton Tuesday night to face the Tigers at 8 p.m. That game will be televised live on CBS College Sports, formerly known as College Sports Television (CSTV).
Some notes entering Saturday’s game...
The series between Penn (4-3, 2-1) and Dartmouth (4-4, 0-1) has certainly been tight in recent years -- each of the last three games have been decided by one goal. The Big Green won, 8-7, in 2005; the Quakers have won the last two meetings, 10-9 in Hanover in 2006 and 8-7 last year.
Two Penn freshmen, attack Corey Winkoff and midfielder Al Kohart, have both earned Ivy League Rookie of the Year twice this season; this past Monday was the first team the award was given, and neither Winkoff nor Kohart won it.
Junior attack Craig Andrzejewski earned a spot on the Ivy League Honor Roll after compiling three points against Cornell last weekend (1g, 2a).
Andrzejewski’s three points allowed him to extend his point-scoring streak to 24 games, dating back to April 15, 2006; it is tied for the 13th-longest streak in the country. During the streak, he has been held to one point only two times.
Kohart and Winkoff are the only other Penn players to record a point in every game this season.
Andrzejewski leads Penn with 15 goals and 27 points on the season; his points-per-game average (3.86) is tops in the Ivy League, and his goals-per-game (2.14) and assists-per-game (1.71) averages are second among Ivy players.
Only a junior, Andrzejewski already has 93 career points and needs just seven more to reach 100 for his collegiate career.
Winkoff tops the Quakers and the Ivy League with 14 assists, a 2.00 average; he has nine in three Ivy games.
Winkoff is also third in the Ivy League in points per game (3.14).
Junior attack Alex Weber is tied for eighth in the Ivy League with 1.86 goals per game.
Winkoff is tied for ninth in assists per game and tied for 27th in points per game.
Andrzejewski is tied for 10th in points per game, tied for 18th in assists per game, and tied for 25th in goals per game. Sophomore face-off man Justin Lynch is 10th nationally with a .597 win percentage, and 18th in ground balls per game (4.86) .
Weber (13) and freshman Al Kohart (11) join Andrzejewski in reaching double figures in goals already this season.
Playing behind a young defense -- veteran senior Max Mauro works with sophomores Tommy Dodge, Brett Hughes and Joe Kelly -- sophomore goalkeeper Chris Casey boasts a .472 save percentage and a 9.61 goals-against average.
The face-off unit is anchored by Lynch on the X, with Kelly (24 ground balls) and junior Brian Weiss (19 GBs) coming in from the wings.
Dartmouth has followed a pattern this season, winning its first, third, fifth and seventh games and losing its second, fourth, sixth and eighth games; the bad news for Penn is that the Big Green is coming off a 16-9 loss to No. 2 Duke last weekend in a game played in Hempstead, N.Y. Sophomore Josh Gillam led Dartmouth with five goals and an assist.
Brian Koch had two assists against the Blue Devils, allowing him to extend his point-scoring streak to 25 games.
Dartmouth -- which lost its Ivy opener to Brown, 9-5, on March 22 -- is led by last year’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Ari Sussman, who has 17 goals and eight assists for 25 points. Koch has 23 points on the season (14g, 9a), while Jonathan Livadas has 18 (12g, 6a).
Dartmouth is a perfect 3-0 at home so far this season.