PHILADELPHIA - The last time the Penn men’s lacrosse team started an Ivy League season 2-0, the Quakers went on to a perfect campaign and won the Ivy title.
The year was 1984.
In order for history to repeat itself, Penn must first improve to 3-0 -- no small order, given Saturday afternoon’s opponent at Franklin Field. The Quakers, ranked 19th in this week’s USILA national coaches poll, face off with No. 6 Cornell at noon.
Anyone who knows anything about lacrosse is aware of what the Big Red bring to the table. Last year, they went undefeated through the regular season, spending most of it ranked No. 1 nationally, before losing in the closing seconds to Duke in an NCAA Championship semifinal.
“You approach each game by saying it is your biggest game of the year, and since this is our next game it is now our biggest,” said Penn head coach Brian Voelker. “But obviously, in this one, we are facing a great team and a great program. Adding in the importance of it being a conference game only magnifies things.”
Despite Cornell’s lofty status, many of Penn’s players are still able to recall two years ago, when the Big Red came to Franklin Field with a No. 2 national ranking, and left with an 8-6 loss. That was actually the second time in a row the Quakers knocked off the Big Red on Franklin Field -- in fact, Cornell has not won here since 2002.
Not surprisingly -- and maybe because his team was drubbed, 20-5, last year in Ithaca -- Voelker places little bearing on the previous two games in Philadelphia.
“This game is not about two or four years ago; those were very different teams from this year’s teams,” he said. “We have had success against them here, but none of that will matter when we step on the field Saturday. We need our guys to come out, play hard, and give them our A’ game.”
Some notes entering Saturday’s game...
Cornell leads the overall series between these programs, 57-22-3, and beat the Quakers 20-5 last season in Ithaca; however, Penn has defeated the Big Red the last two times they have played on Franklin Field, 8-6 in 2006 (when Cornell was ranked second nationally) and 10-8 in 2004.
Penn (4-2, 2-0 Ivy) enters Saturday’s game with the No. 19 ranking in the latest USILA national coaches poll -- its first appearance in that poll this season -- while Cornell is No. 6.
Saturday’s game features the top two scoring teams in the Ivy League -- Cornell (11.17 goals per game) is first while Penn (10.00) is second.
Penn is 2-0 in the Ivies for the first time since 1984 after last weekend’s win over Harvard; that 1984 Quaker squad went a perfect 6-0 to win the conference title.
Freshman attack Corey Winkoff was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after dishing off six assists against the Crimson; it marked the second time he has been honored this season, and the fourth time in four weeks a Penn player has received the league’s weekly rookie award.
Junior attack Alex Weber earned a spot on the Ivy League Honor Roll by scoring four goals against Harvard; classmate Craig Andrzejewski had five goals in the game.
Andrzejewski leads Penn with 14 goals and 24 points on the season; his points-per-game average (4.00) is tops in the Ivy League, and his goals-per-game average (2.33) is second among Ivy players.
Andrzejewski also boasts a 23-game point-scoring streak, dating back to April 15, 2006; that is tied for the 13th-longest streak in the nation entering the weekend.
Winkoff tops the Quakers and the Ivy League with 13 assists, a 2.17 average; he has eight in two Ivy games.
Winkoff is also tied for second in the Ivy League in points per game (3.17).
NATIONALLY SPEAKING: Winkoff is tied for fifth in assists per game, while Andrzejewski is tied for ninth in points per game and tied for 16th in goals per game. Sophomore face-off man Justin Lynch is eighth nationally with a .619 win percentage and 16th in ground balls per game (5.33) .
Weber (11) and freshman middieAl Kohart (10) have joined Andrzejewski in reaching double figures in goals already this season.
Playing behind a young defense -- veteran senior Max Mauro works with sophomores Tommy Dodge and Brett Hughes -- sophomore goalkeeper Chris Casey boasts a .491 save percentage and an 8.98 goals-against average.
The face-off unit is anchored by Lynch on the X, with junior Brian Weiss (17 ground balls) and sophomore Joe Kelly (22 GB) coming in from the wings.
Cornell (6-1, 1-0 Ivy) comes to Penn off a 12-5 win over Binghamton Tuesday; prior to that, the Big Red opened their Ivy League season with an 8-7, overtime winagainst Yale.
Cornell -- which went unbeaten overall until the NCAA semifinal round in 2007 -- boasts wins over Navy and Army this season, and like Penn has also faced Denver (beating the Pioneers, 20-7). Cornell’s lone loss came at North Carolina.
Cornell features two of the top midfielders in the nation in junior Max Seibald and senior John Glynn. Seibald was a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist and first-team All-America a year ago as a sophomore, while Glynn earned second-team All-America. Both were first-team All-Ivy selections in 2007.
Ryan Hurley leads the attack for the Big Red; he has an Ivy League-leading 20 goals and three assists. Teammate Chris Finn (13g, 3a) is the only other Cornell player to reach double digits in goals, but four other teammates have at least 11 points this season.
At the other end, Jake Myers has a .517 save percentage and a 7.58 goals-against average in the Cornell cage; he had six saves and allowed just four goals in 46 minutes Tuesday.