PHILADELPHIA - Following Tuesday night’s 14-5 loss at Princeton, the Penn men’s lacrosse team has little time to sit around and feel sorry for itself. On Saturday, the Quakers host No. 16 Brown in their final Ivy League game of the season. Faceoff is set for noon at Franklin Field.
At 3-2 in the league, Penn (5-4 overall) has guaranteed itself a .500 mark in conference play for the third year in a row. However, the Quakers’ NCAA postseason hopes are hanging by a thread with only four games left on the schedule, and a loss to the Bears would likely do irreparable harm to an at-large opportunity.
Penn did itself no favors Tuesday night. The young Quakers -- with only one senior in the lineup -- were down only 6-4 at halftime, but allowed Princeton to score all five goals in the third quarter, and then three more after they finally got one back early in the fourth. It continued a trend that has been all-too-familiar for Penn fans, who have seen their team get outscored 26-13 in the fourth quarter this season.
"As a coach, you always want more time to prepare for teams," said Voelker, noting the four-day turnaround. "However, it may be better for our players to put Tuesday night's game behind us. This is a tough stretch, playing three games in a week with one of them a long road trip. But I am confident that we will play better than we did Tuesday. We are ready to step up and give Brown our best game."
While Penn has been up and down in recent weeks, Brown has been on a roll. The last time the Bears lost was March 8, against Denver at the Pioneer Faceoff Classic (where Penn also competed). Under second-year head coach Lars Tiffany, a Brown grad, the Bears are also unbeaten in Ivy play, having knocked off Dartmouth (9-5) and Yale (9-8).
"I am not surprised at the season they are having," said Voelker. "They had a good nucleus back, and their goalie is having a great season that will probably lead to some national recognition after the season. Their defense is putting him in a position to make saves, and he is making them. They have a strong attack, with four guys whocan score, and some great athletes in the midfield. They are deserving of everything they have gotten so far this year."
Some notes entering Saturday’s game...
Brown leads the series over Penn, 27-18, but the Quakers have won three of the last four meetings, including a 12-10 decision last year in Providence and a 9-8 game here at Franklin Field in 2006.
To give you a sense of how much Brian Voelker has turned this program around: When Penn defeated Dartmouth last Saturday, it guaranteed the Quakers a .500 record in Ivy League play for the third straight season and the fourth time in 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)
As a sign of Penn’s youth, every point this season has been scored by an underclassmen. The breakdown of Penn’s 126 points to date...
Freshmen: 46 points (36.5 percent)
Sophomores: 9 points (7.1 percent)
Juniors: 71 points (56.3 percent)
In Tuesday night’s loss at Princeton, junior Casey O'Rourke -- who moved from attack to midfield this season -- led the way with a pair of goals. He entered the game with only one goal for the season.
Freshman attack Corey Winkoff had three assists at Princeton, giving him 20 for the season which leads the Ivy League; his assists-per-game average (2.22) is sixth in the nation.
In Ivy play, Winkoff is averaging three assists per game (15 in five games).
Junior Craig Andrzejewski went without a point Tuesday night, ending his point-scoring streak at 25 games; coincidentally, the last time he was held without a point was April 11, 2006, also at Princeton.
Two Penn freshmen, Winkoff and midfielder Al Kohart, have both earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice this season.
Kohart and Winkoff are the only Penn players to record a point in every game this season.
Andrzejewski leads Penn with 18 goals and 30 points on the season; his points-per-game average (3.33) is second in the league, and his assists-per-game (1.33) and goals-per-game averages (2.00) are third among Ivy players.
Only a junior, Andrzejewski already has 96 career points and needs just four 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 is third in the Ivy League in points per game (3.11).
Junior attack Alex Weber is fourth in the Ivy League with 1.89 goals per game; after being held without a point in Penn’s Ivy opener at Yale, Weber has responded with 10 goals in the last four games (4 vs. Harvard, 2 vs. Cornell, 3 at Dartmouth, 1 at Princeton).
Junior midfield Garvey Heiderman went without a goal for more than 210 minutes of game action before scoring in overtime to beat Dartmouth last Saturday; he then opened Penn’s scoring at Princeton Tuesday night.
NATIONALLY SPEAKING (as of 4/7)...
- Andrzejewski is 15th in points per game, tied for 20th in goals per game, and 21st in assists per game.
- Winkoff is sixth in assists per game and 25th in points per game.
- Weber is tied for 33rd in goals per game.
- Sophomore face-off man Justin Lynch is 14th nationally with a .578 win percentage, and 18th in ground balls per game (5.00) .
Weber (17) and freshman Al Kohart (13) 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 has a .449 save percentage and a 9.92 goals-against average.
The face-off unit is anchored by Lynch on the X, with Kelly (31 ground balls) and junior Brian Weiss (28 GBs) coming in from the wings.
Brown -- which has won six in a row and is ranked 16th in the USILA national poll -- is led by Thomas Muldoon (21g, 5a) and Kyle Hollingsworth (10g, 10a). Jack Walsh (9g, 8a) and Andrew Feinberg (13g, 3a) are also in double figures points-wise.
In the Brown goal, Jordan Burke has a scintillating .695 save percentage and a 5.87 GAA; he leads the nation in both categories.
Last weekend, Hollingsworth scored with 11 seconds left to give Brown a 9-8 win over Yale.
In other Ivy League games this Saturday, 0-2 Dartmouth is at 3-0 Cornell (1 p.m.) and 2-0 Princeton is at 0-2 Harvard (3 p.m.). Yale, 0-4 in league play, is out of conference facing Fairfield at 7 p.m.