PHILADELPHIA - In the last two games the Penn men’s lacrosse team has played, the Quakers have taken exactly 100 shots -- 57 against Brown on April 12, and 43 the next weekend at Maryland.
They have scored nine goals.
Quite simply, the Quakers cannot score, and it has become a focal point as they try to snap a three-game losing streak Saturday afternoon at Towson University. Faceoff is 1 p.m. at Johnny Unitas Stadium, and the game will be televised live in the Baltimore area as the “Game of the Week” on WMAR-TV, Channel 2.
Penn head coach Brian Voelker can only hope that, as the games quickly pass by, his young offensive players avoid frustration and continue to work on finding the goal.
“In some ways, our guys almost have to get out of their own heads at this point,” he said. “As a staff, we have been debating whether you do more shooting drills or pull back because the mental aspect of shooting is taking over. When Saturday arrives, we want the guys not to think about it and keep shooting.”
Saturday’s game will provide a bit of a respite, at least on paper. Towson is the only one of Penn’s final five opponents that is not ranked in the USILA Top 20, and the Tigers enter Saturday with a three-game losing streak of their own. However, Voelker is quick to note that the Quakers are in no position to be looking past any opponent.
“We will work hard this week,” he said. “Towson is struggling a bit, but so are we. And where we are struggling on offense, they are having some difficulties on defense -- so something has to give. But we will prepare like crazy for Towson on Saturday, and be ready to roll when they blow the whistle.”
Some notes heading into Saturday’s game...
Despite their relative proximity in the Mid-Atlantic region, this will be the first meeting between Penn and Towson in men’s lacrosse.
To give you a sense of how much sixth-year head coach Brian Voelker has turned Penn’s program around, the Quakers have finished .500 or better in the Ivy League each of the last three seasons, and four times in the last five years. The last time Penn finished .500 or better in the conference three straight years was at the end of a seven-year run, from 1983-89. (compare that to the period from 1990-2003, when the Quakers finished .500 or better only four times total)
That said, Penn is looking to snap a three-game losing streak -- although all three losses came against ranked teams.
Two Penn freshmen, attackman Corey Winkoff and midfielder Al Kohart, have earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice this season.
Kohart is the only Penn player to record a point in every game this season, while Winkoff has scored in all but one contest (Brown).
Junior attack Craig Andrzejewski had a 25-game point-scoring streak that was snapped at Princeton (4/8); coincidentally, the last time he had been held without a point was Penn’s previous game at Princeton, on April 11, 2006.
In the last 28 games he has played for Penn, Andrzejewski has been held to one or fewer points only four times -- but two of them have come in the last three contests (4/8 at Princeton, 4/19 at Maryland).
Andrzejewski leads Penn with 33 points and is tied for the team lead with 19 goals on the season; his points-per-game average (3.00) is fourth among Ivy players, his assists-per-game average (1.27) is fifth, and his goals-per-game average (1.73) is tied for 10th.
Only a junior, Andrzejewski already has 99 career points and needs just one more to reach 100 for his collegiate career. The last Penn player to reach 100 points? Craig’s older brother D.J. Andrzejewski, who scored exactly 100 from 2003-06.
Winkoff tops the Quakers and the Ivy League with 21 assists (1.91 per-game average); he had 15 in six Ivy games (2.50 average).
Winkoff is also eighth in the Ivy League in points per game (2.73).
Junior attack Alex Weber is tied for the team lead and tied for 10th in the Ivy League with 19 goals (1.73 per game); he has scored in six-straight games, and 10 out of 11 overall this season (held goalless only at Yale).
Kohart (16) joins Andrzejewski and Weber in reaching double figures in goals already this season, while junior J.J. Lian (7g, 3a) has 10 points.
Kohart leads the Ivy League in shots per game (8.00); he took a staggering 16 shots against Brown on April 12, when Penn took 57 as a team. (Brown, meanwhile, took just 22 yet still gained an 8-5 victory)
Andrzejewski is tied for fifth in the Ivies in shots per game (6.64), while Weber is ninth (5.82).
If you are wondering what happened to junior Casey O'Rourke, who started every game on attack last year for the Quakers, he is still around -- just as a midfielder. He runs with the second unit.
That said, O’Rourke has scored three goals in Penn’s last two Ivy League games (2 at Princeton, 1 vs. Brown); prior to that, he had just one goal in Penn’s first eight games.
Playing behind a young defense -- veteran senior Max Mauro works with sophomores Tommy Dodge, Brett Hughes and Joe Kelly -- sophomore goalkeeper Chris Casey has a .455 save percentage and a 9.66 goals-against average.
The face-off unit is anchored by Lynch on the X -- he is fourth in the Ivies with a .571 win percentage and fifth with 4.55 ground balls per game -- with Kelly (39 ground balls) and junior Brian Weiss (33 GBs) coming in from the wings.
Like Penn, Towson (4-9) enters Saturday’s game with a three-game losing streak and unranked. The Tigers played Wednesday night, falling to No. 6 Johns Hopkins. Prior to that, they lost to Drexel (10-9) and Villanova (7-4), so Towson is looking to avoid a Philly sweep Saturday.
The Tigers have six players who have reached double figures in points, led by Jonathan Engelke (28g, 15a). Three other players have 21 points: Eric Boyle (14g, 7a), Tim Stratton (12g, 9a) and Randall Cooper (11g, 10a). Bill McCutcheon has 14 goals and 20 points.
In goal, Billy Sadtler has started every game, while Matt Antol has appeared in 10 contests. Sadtler has a .503 save percentage and a 10.24 goals-against average; Antol is at .465 and 10.31.
Looking at the rest of the Ivy League schedule this weekend, Brown (4-0) and Cornell (4-1) meet in a huge game in Ithaca at 1 p.m. Saturday; Princeton (4-0) looks to remain unbeaten in the conference at Dartmouth (1-3)at 1 p.m.; and Harvard (0-4) and Yale (0-5) meet looking for their first league wins in New Haven at 1 p.m.