Men's Lacrosse Looking to Dethrone Defending Champions

Game Notes in PDF Format

PHILADELPHIA - When the 2006 season began, Penn was on nobody’s radar as a potential NCAA Championship team -- and that was a shame, since the University was hosting the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championships at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia for the second year in a row.

Well, lo and behold, the Quakers are a part of this year’s dance. And look at who they get to tango with in the first round -- Johns Hopkins, the team that was last one standing at “The Linc” a year ago.

Penn has come a long way from its 2-11 season of a year ago. Head Coach Brian Voelker -- whose ties to JHU's Homewood Field run deep, as a player and a coach -- will tell you a lot of it stems from his senior class. These 10 players simply made a pact not to let a season like 2005 happen again, and they have been the catalysts to a quick start that put the Quakers in this position.

When were there indications that this team was going to be different than a year ago? How about the season opener against Siena, when the Quakers opened with 16 goals before allowing the Saints to score. Or maybe it was the third game, when they went to North Carolina and held the Tar Heels scoreless for nearly three full quarters in a 13-4 blowout win. Or maybe it was the game after that, when Penn overcame a five-goal deficit to defeat UMBC (another tournament team), 12-11 in overtime.

With that game in mind, the one mantra that comes to mind is “what goes around, comes around.” Last year, Penn went 2-7 in games that were decided by three goals or fewer; this year, the Quakers are 6-0 in such contests.

The winner of Saturday’s game moves on to the quarterfinal round and a meeting with the winner of Sunday’s Syracuse-Harvard matchup. That quarterfinal will take place in Stony Brook, N.Y. Win that, and it is off to Lincoln Financial Field and the City of Brotherly Love. And wouldn’t it be special to see the Quakers play in front of the hometown crowd over Memorial Day Weekend?

Penn In The NCAAs
• Penn is playing in the NCAA Championship for the 10th time overall, and the second time in three years.

• Penn is 2-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament:
1975- Navy 17, Penn 6 (quarterfinal)
1977- Navy 14, Penn 12 (quarterfinal)
1983- Syracuse 11, Penn 8 (quarterfinal)
1984- Army 8, Penn 7 (quarterfinal)
1985- Syracuse 14, Penn 7 (quarterfinal)
1987- Penn 11, UMass 10 (first round)
Maryland 12, Penn 8 (quarterfinal)
1988- Penn 12, Loyola 9 (quarterfinal)
Syracuse 11, Penn 10 (semifinal)
1989- Navy 12, Penn 11 (quarterfinal)
2004- Navy 11, Penn 5 (first round).

• Penn is in the postseason for the second time under fourth-year head coach Brian Voelker; the other showing came in 2004.

The Series with Hopkins
• Penn and Johns Hopkins are meeting for the 30th time overall; the Blue Jays lead the series, 28-1. This is the first time these two teams are meeting in an NCAA Tournament game.

• The two teams met most recently in the 2004 season-opener, when top-ranked Hopkins escaped with a thrilling 10-9 win.

• This marks Penn’s sixth game this season against a team that was ranked at the time of the meeting. The Quakers are 3-2 in the five previous games, defeating then-No. 17 UMBC (12-11 OT), then-No. 20 Bucknell (6-4) and then-No. 2 Cornell (8-6). Penn’s losses came at then-No. 11 Princeton (16-7) and last weekend at then-No. 4 Maryland (12-4).

Back Home to Homewood
Penn’s trip to JHU’s Homewood Field represents a homecoming for a number of Penn’s coaches:

• Head Coach Brian Voelker spent a total of nine seasons as a player and coach at Johns Hopkins. As a player, he was a first-team All-America on defense in 1991, and a two-time third-team All-America recipient (1989 and 1990). Voelker was a member of the Blue Jays’ 1989 NCAA finalist team and served as team captain in 1991. He was also tabbed as Hopkins’ most outstanding senior player in 1991 (Sidney C. Erlanger Trophy) and as the Blue Jays’ most outstanding defensive player in 1990 and 1991 (1941 Team Shaffer Award).
As a coach, Voelker was the Blue Jays’ defensive coordinator from 1997-2001 and helped lead Hopkins to the 1999 and 2000 NCAA Final Fours, as well as an NCAA quarterfinal appearance in 1998. His defenses held opponents to a three-year average of 9.5 goals per game, and 21 of his letterwinners went on to be named All-America, with seven earning first-team nods. He also coached the 1998 Ensign C. Markland Kelly Award recipient.

• Like Voelker, Assistant Coach Todd Cavallaro also was a player and coach at JHU. As a senior captain, he received the Blue Jays’ 1994 Turnball Reynolds Award (presented to the player who exemplifies team play, sportsmanship and leadership) and Sydney G. Erlanger Award (presented to the outstanding senior). In addition, he was the team’s 1990 recipient of the Shawn P. Corcoran Award, given to the player who exemplifies perseverance, cooperation, loyalty, courage and athletic prowess. Later, Cavallaro was offensive coordinator at Johns Hopkins from 1998-2000; along with Voelker, he played a key role in the Blue Jays reaching the NCAA Final Four in 1999 and again in 2000.

• Volunteer assistant Peter Jacobs is a 1995 graduate of Johns Hopkins University, and played on three NCAA Final Four teams (1992, 1994, 1995). Jacobs served as the Blue Jays’ team captain in 1995 and was named first-team All-America in 1995 and second-team All-America in 1994.

Download: MLAX Notes (NCAA).pdf