PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania men’s lacrosse team got the breaks they needed last Saturday, and as a result the Quakers are playing postseason lacrosse. This weekend, they state their case for an NCAA Championship berth and go for an Ivy League Tournament title in Ithaca, N.Y. Penn faces Yale in the first semifinal on Friday, with the winner moving on to Sunday’s championship game.
GAME 13 – #17 PENN (8-4) vs. #13 YALE (9-4)
Friday, May 3, 2013 * 5 p.m.
Schoellkopf Field (Ithaca, N.Y.)
TV: ESPN3.com (Mike Corey, Ryan Boyle)
The Series with Yale
The Quakers and the Bulldogs have met 63 times in men’s lacrosse, with Yale holding a 37-26 lead in the series. Including a 7-6 overtime on March 30, the Bulldogs have won four of the last five matchups. That said, four of the last seven games in this series have gone to overtime -- Penn winning in 2007 and 2011, Yale in 2009 and 2013 -- and the other three in that span have been decided by one or two goals (Penn 9-7 in 2008; Yale 16-14 in 2010; Yale 10-9 in 2012).
Earlier This Season (March 30, to be exact)
After Penn’s Drew Belinsky was stuffed at the other end, Kirby Zdrill scored off a Brandon Mangan feed just 49 seconds into overtime to propel Yale to a 7-6 decision at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Mangan figured in six of the Bulldogs’ seven goals, scoring four and assisting two, while John-Willi McGovern had a goal and two assists. For Penn -- which twice came back from two-goal deficits to tie the game -- Tim Schwalje had a goal and three assists while Zack Losco scored twice. Yale outshot Penn, 40-27; faceoffs were 9-8 in the Bulldogs’ favor. Five of the game’s 13 goals came in extra-man situations, as Yale was 3-of-3 and Penn was 2-of-2 with the man advantage.
The Bulldogs (9-4) are arguably the hottest team in the country right now; they have won six of their last seven, with the only loss in that stretch coming by a goal (8-7) at No. 8 Maryland. Brandon Mangan, who is one of 25 semifinalists for the Tewaaraton Award, leads Yale in goals (32), assists (23) and points (55). Conrad Oberbeck has 32 points (27g, 5a), while Kirby Zdrill has 28 (26g, 2a). Colin Flaherty has scored 13 goals, while Ryan McCarthy has 12 assists and Shane Thorton has 14 points (5g, 9a). At the other end, Eric Natale -- who had 10 saves in the regular-season meeting -- has an 8.15 goals-against average and a .516 save percentage. The defense is anchored by a pair of 2012 All-Ivy players, Peter Johnson and Michael McCormack.
The Other Semifinal
Friday’s other semifinal will face off at 8 p.m. and feature the top seed and host, Cornell, against Princeton. This will be their second meeting in six days; last Saturday, the Big Red defeated the Tigers, 17-11, at the Big City Classic in East Rutherford, N.J.
Friday’s semifinal winners will meet in the Ivy League Tournament final Sunday at 11 a.m.; the winner of that game will receive the Ivy League’s automatic bid into the 16-team NCAA Championship field. Sunday’s final will be televised live on ESPNU (Mike Corey on play-by-play, Mark Dixon as analyst).
*Penn is ranked No. 17 in this week’s USILA national coaches poll; the Quakers’ No. 9 ranking on March 17 was its best in that poll since the Quakers were seventh in the April 10, 2006 poll.
*In the latest NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings, released Monday, Penn was at No. 12 which is behind only Cornell (4) among Ivy institutions. Penn’s semifinal opponent, Yale, is 13th while the other semifinalist, Princeton, is at No. 18.
*This week’s RPI of Penn’s regular-season opponents: Denver (2), Cornell (4), Duke (11), Yale (13), Lehigh (14), Princeton (18), Villanova (22), Brown (25), Harvard (26), Bellarmine (33), Dartmouth (43), Saint Joseph’s (52).
*A look at the Laxpower.com computer rankings on Monday showed Penn’s strength of schedule ranked second among Division I programs, behind Villanova, for the second week in a row. High strength of schedule is a continuing trend in the Mike Murphy era, as the Quakers ended each of the last two seasons with the toughest schedule in the country (and spent several weeks this season at No. 1, as well).
*Seven of Penn’s 12 opponents to date are in this week’s USILA national coaches’ poll: No. 2 Cornell (L), No. 3 Denver (L), No. 6 Duke (W), No. 11 Lehigh (W), No. 13 Yale (L), No. 16 Princeton (W), No. 20 Villanova (W).
*Penn held Dartmouth to just two goals on April 20, the fewest goals the Quakers have allowed in a game since March 5, 2002 (an 11-2 win over Saint Joseph’s). The last time Penn held an Ivy opponent to two goals? Try March 20, 1999 (7-2 win over Yale).
*Penn’s defense has also held a team to three goals (Brown, 4/6); another to four goals (Lehigh (3/5); and still two others to five goals (Saint Joseph’s, 2/26 and Bellarmine, 4/27). Overall, the Quakers’ 7.25 goals-against average this season ranks them second nationally behind only Penn State (7.21).
*Three times this season the Quakers have had just six goals in a game; in two of those contests, six different players scored those six goals (Saint Joseph’s and Lehigh), while against Yale five players scored. (Three weeks ago, six different players scored Penn’s seven goals at Harvard.)
*Fifteen different players have scored Penn's 111 goals, and the Quakers have 62 assisted goals vs. 49 unassisted; in other words, a lot of guys are finding a lot of different ways to score.
*Penn has outscored its opponents in the fourth quarter, 37-19, so far this season including 12-2 in its last three Ivy League games (3-0 at Brown, 4-1 at Harvard, 5-1 vs. Dartmouth).
*Penn has outshot its opponents 265-176 in the second half this season (130-76 in the third quarter, 135-100 in the fourth).
*Penn enters the Ivy League Tournament ranked sixth nationally in man-up offensive, at .447 success; the Quakers had a four-game stretch where they went 9-of-10 on man-up situations (10-of-12 over five games).
*Penn is also 10th nationally in caused turnovers per game (9.0)
*NATIONAL STATS: Junior goalie Brian Feeney is third in goals-against average (7.23) and 10th in save percentage (.590); senior defenseman Anthony Santomo is 10th in caused turnovers per game (2.17); senior attackman Tim Schwalje is 14th in assists per game (2.08); junior Danny Feeney is 19th in face-off win percentage (.559) and 27th in ground balls per game (5.58).
*Schwalje was Penn's leading returning scorer from last year, and he leads the team so far this season in assists (25) and points (40).
*Schwalje had hat tricks against Duke and Denver, and has gone for multiple points in each of the last 10 games after opening the season with seven points against Duke.
*Schwalje has a point in 24 straight games; he is the only Penn player to have a point in every game so far this season.
*Junior Zack Losco has 17 goals in Penn’s last eight games and 20 in the last 10, including hat tricks against Denver, Villanova and Bellarmine.
*Losco leads the Quakers with 22 goals, and has scored at least two goals in eight of Penn’s last 10 games (he was held without a goal March 5 at Lehigh, the only time he was shut out this season, and had one on April 13 at Harvard).
*Sophomore Isaac Bock scored once last season; this season, he is second on the team with 19 goals. That includes a four-goal game in the season opener against Duke and hat tricks vs. Villanova, Princeton and Brown.
*After a stellar freshman campaign in 2011, Drew Belinsky broke his ankle prior to his sophomore season and never seemed to fully get over it. This year, as a junior he has 23 points (14g, 9a).
*Belinsky has eight multi-point outings this season, including six in the last eight games.
*In his collegiate debut, freshman Nick Doktor scored twice; in fact, in his first quarter as a collegian he scored twice. He has 13 points so far this season (10g, 3a), and on March 9 vs. Villanova he recorded his first collegiate hat trick.
*Doktor has not recorded a point in Penn’s last two games; prior to that, he had an eight-game point-scoring streak. Overall, he has at least a point in nine of 12 contests so far this season.
*Another freshman, Mark Leonhard, had a point in three straight games (goals against Brown and Dartmouth, assist at Harvard) before going pointless last weekend vs. Bellarmine; he also scored in his first collegiate game, then again on March 5 at Lehigh.
*Junior Alex Blonsky scored at Harvard on April 13, becoming the third different long pole to score for Penn this season (also Anthony Santomo twice and Matt Machucki twice).
*Another long-stick defenseman, junior Maxx Meyer, had an assist on April 20 against Dartmouth.
*Sophomores Will Laco and Chris Hupfeldt saw no game action last year (Hupfeldt due to injury); Laco had a three-game goal-scoring streak earlier this season and assisted a goal at Brown, while "Hup" has had goals against Saint Joseph's, Denver and Bellarmine and recorded assists at Cornell and Brown.
*Santomo’s goals this season have been the captain's first collegiate goals; he is joined as a captain by Schwalje, Meyer, and fellow classmate Brendan Engelke, a goalie.
*Santomo -- who was added to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List in midseason -- leads Penn with 26 caused turnovers, while Meyer has 20 and sophomore close defenseman Matt McMahon has 14; Meyer also has 33 ground balls.
*Junior Danny Feeney has taken a majority of Penn's faceoffs this season (186 of 236); he has a .559 win percentage on the X and a team-high 67 ground balls.
*Feeney went 9-of-15 on the X April 20 vs. Dartmouth, and was 34-of-49 (.694 win percentage) in Penn’s final three Ivy League games. He has also been over 50 percent against Harvard (13-18), Brown (12-16), Cornell (9-17), Villanova (16-23), Denver (8-14) and Saint Joseph’s (8-12).
*Sophomore Joe McCallion, who is running on the second midfield -- he has three goals and two assists this season -- has taken 49 faceoffs this season and has a .388 win percentage.
*Keep an eye on No. 28, Matt Machucki; after three years as an attackman, the sizable senior has moved into a long-stick middie position. With the long stick, he has scored his first collegiate goals (against Princeton and Cornell).
*In goal, junior Brian Feeney had 10 saves while allowing just two goals on April 20 vs. Dartmouth; that is an .833 save percentage, matching the career high he set two weeks earlier at Brown (15 saves, 3 goals) and just ahead of the .810 he put up against Lehigh on March 5 (17 saves, 4 goals).
*Feeney is the only goalie to have three games with an .800 or better save percentage (playing at least three quarters); in fact, only Cornell’s AJ Fiore has two such games this season.
*Penn’s game against Bellarmine on April 27 was 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 five players who were UnderArmour All-America selections in high school: juniors Drew Belinsky and Brian Feeney, and freshmen Nick Doktor, Pat Berkery and Sam Rohr (Rohr is expected to miss this season due to injury).
*Sophomores Joe McCallion and Chris Hupfeldt were seniors on the Haverford School (Pa.) boys' lacrosse team that ended the 2011 season ranked as the No. 1 high school program in the country.
*Two other players, Berkery and freshman Rob Savage, were on the Garden City (N.Y.) team that was ranked No. 1 at the end of last year. Savage made his debut against Dartmouth on April 20, while Berkery has yet to see time this season.
*If the Savage name looks familiar to Penn fans, your intuition is correct -- Rob is indeed the brother of Dan Savage, who graduated last year and played four years on the Quaker lacrosse team.
*Penn lacrosse continues to be a family affair for McCallion, whose sister, Kelly, is a senior and a member of the Quakers' Ivy League champion women's lacrosse team. The Penn women are hosting the Ivy League Tournament this weekend at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
*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 welcomed two former Quaker football players to the roster this season, seniors Dave Twamley and C.J. Mooney. Both players were starters on defense for the Ivy League champs this fall -- in fact, they won three rings during their tenure on the gridiron -- and Twamley was a second-team All-Ivy recipient. Twamley has seen regular game action in the midfield.