Red and Blue return 15 letterwinners from its 2003 lineup.
Feb. 23, 2004
Year two of the Brian Voelker era with Penn Lacrosse is at hand, and anticipation is high as the Red and Blue return from a 6-7 campaign in Voelker's first season.
Despite graduating four starters and nine letterwinners from last season's squad, the 2004 edition of the Quakers return a year wiser and with 15 letterwinners, including seven sophomores who saw significant playing time as rookies.
Penn will be led by senior captains Pat Connelly, David Delaney and Will Phillips, as the Red and Blue attempt to take the next step as a program.
On the Attack
Six of the Quakers returning lettermen are at attack and will be led by Phillips, who exploded for a career-high 26 goals and 38 points to lead Penn in scoring in 2003.
Phillips' season was made even more impressive by the fact that he moved from the midfield to attack last year.
After Phillips, the coaching staff will look at four players specifically to fill the last two starting slots in the lineup - junior Greg Voigt and sophomores Luke Dixson, Chase McGowan and James Riordan.
Voigt tallied six goals and added six assists off the bench last season. He has 12 career goals and nine assists entering his third campaign with the Red and Blue.
Dixson, McGowan and Riordan all had breakout rookie seasons in 2003 with Penn. Unfortunately, Dixson's was cut four games short with an injury. Before going down, he started eight of nine games, with four goals and six assists.
McGowan scored five goals and added four helpers last season, while Riordan finished fifth in scoring a year ago, and led all freshmen with 12 goals and 17 points. He was also the only rookie to start all 13 games last season for the Red and Blue.
The coaching staff will also look to a pool of newcomers for scoring help as sophomore Ian Loizeaux (sidelined the entire 2003 season with an injury) and freshmen Luke Wilson and Alex Salihi will all battle for playing time.
The coaching staff will have the unenviable task of replacing two of the program's more lethal weapons in midfielders Alex Kopicki and Jake Martin, who combined for 85 goals and 124 points in their four seasons in the Red and Blue. In addition to their offensive production, the Quakers will also miss the duo's leadership abilities.
Thankfully for Penn, junior Zandy Reich does return at midfield. There was no sophomore slump for Reich, who tallied career highs in goals (12), assists (7) and points (19). Reich finished last season on fire, scoring 10 goals and adding four assists in the final five games.
Senior Ethan Haire returns as the Quakers faceoff man, having won 50.0 percent of his draws (130 out of 260) a year ago. Haire also added five goals and six points as well as picking up 89 groundballs (seventh in the nation).
Sophomore D.J. Andrzejewski also returns after scoring four goals and seven points in his rookie campaign. He will be counted upon to take his game to the next level in 2004. Andrzejewski's 6'3 frame will make him difficult to stop in front of opposing goaltenders.
Two more sophomores who also saw playing time last season were Patrick Rogers and P.J. Gilbert. Rogers appeared in all 13 games, setting up four goals and recording eight groundballs in a regular role. Gilbert meanwhile saw spot duty and could turn that experience into a spot in the lineup in 2004.
Junior Brian Amen, sophomores Alan Eberstein and Joseph Shanaghan and freshmen Mark Becker, David Cornbrooks and Alex Staffier will also add to the Quakers depth at midfield.
Delaney and sophomore Jeff Mills return in the defensive midfield and will be joined by long-stick junior Jamie Arestia.
Delaney made a successful return to the lineup in 2003 after sitting out the majority of his sophomore campaign with an injury. His 14 groundballs were second among the Quakers' defensive middies.
Mills led the defensive midfield with 16 groundballs in 12 games, sitting out the season finale with an injury. The coaching staff will count on Mills to improve upon what was already a solid rookie debut.
At long stick, Arestia returns, who saw time in all but one game last season.
Also vying for time in the defensive midfield will be sophomores Tucker Ivey and Tyson Rupprecht, along with freshman Jon Spivak.
For the Cause
On defense, the Quakers' coaching staff will have to replace two more key players due to graduation - Stephen Brown and Evan Weinberg.
Connelly returns as the defense's only letterwinner from a year ago. His 26 groundballs leads all returners on the unit, which placed him third in 2003.
Junior J.T. Pitcher is the only other member of the Penn defense with collegiate playing experience.
Sophomores Andrew Blechman and Michael Saslow along with freshmen Andrew Boyd, Duncan Swanston, Mark Haase and Matt Kelleher will all vie for playing time and add to the Quakers depth before the team's last line of defense.
Last Line of Defense
While the Red and Blue defense may actually appear a little green on paper, the Quakers last line of defense brings with him an impressive resume. Senior goaltender Ryan Kelly returns to the lineup in 2004 after sitting out the entire 2003 campaign. Kelly is one-year removed from a junior campaign that saw him record a .605 save percentage and 150 stops.
Kelly's return to the cage will also help make up for the loss of last year's starting goaltender Mark Gannon, who recorded a .509 save percentage with 118 stops.
Junior Denis Cole and freshmen Greg Klossner and Ben Newton will battle for time at backup. Cole appeared in three contests last season, stopping four shots and posting a .400 save percentage.
With a year under their belts with Voelker and his staff, the Quakers appear primed for a climb back towards prominent role in the collegiate lacrosse world.
Written by Yumee Lee, C'04, athletic communications assistant