Men's Lacrosse Set For DU Face-Off Classic

PHILADELPHIA - After giving No. 8 Duke all it could handle a week ago, the Penn men's lacrosse team appeared to take a step back Wednesday night at Lafayette. The Quakers spotted the 20th-ranked Leopards an early four-goal lead, got back within one by halftime, but then allowed another Lafayette scoring run to start the second half and could not recover in taking a 14-9 defeat.

There was little time to dwell on that result, however. Less than 12 hours after that loss, the Quakers were in back in the weight room - and immediately after that, they were on a plane. The destination? Denver. The event? The University of Denver's DU Face-Off Classic. Penn will play the host Pioneers Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (3:30 Eastern), and follow that up with a matchup against Air Force at 11 a.m. (1 p.m. Eastern) on Sunday. The other team in the Classic is Lehigh, who will face Air Force Saturday and Denver Sunday.

The Series
The Quakers and the Pioneers have met four times, with Denver winning all four. Last year, Penn held a 4-2 lead midway through the second quarter at Franklin Field, but Denver rattled off eight straight goals en route to a 12-6 victory. Two years ago, in this same Face-Off Classic, the Pioneers beat the Quakers in overtime, 12-11.

Penn and Air Force will be meeting for the third time since 2005. In that 2005 meeting, played at the Air Force Academy, Penn pulled out a 6-3 victory. Two years ago, at the Pioneer Face-Off Classic, the Quakers earned a 13-10 win.

Fast Start
While Penn, like all the Ivy League schools, is a bit behind the rest of the country in terms of games played, the Quakers are working quickly to catch up by playing all seven of their non-conference games in a 17-day period. Following this weekend's tournament action -- Penn's third and fourth games in eight days -- Penn hosts city foes Saint Joseph's and Villanova next Wednesday and Saturday before going to another ACC school, Maryland, on Monday, March 15.

About Denver
The Pioneers (1-2) are under the tutelage of Bill Tierney, who made quite a splash in the lacrosse world when he left his longtime head-coaching position at Princeton to take over at Denver. Denver opened the Tierney era as No. 18 in the preseason poll, but fell to No. 1 Syracuse (15-9) and Jacksonville (13-12 in 3OT) before defeating Albany (17-13) last weekend. Alex Demopoulos is Denver's leading scorer, with nine goals and four assists, while Cameron Flint has eight goals. Mark Matthews and Todd Baxter have five goals each, while Charley Dickenson has dished out seven assists.

About Air Force
The Falcons have only played once this season entering the weekend, falling to St. John's (10-7) last Sunday in Colorado Springs. Zack Carroll, who entered the game with one collegiate point, led the way for AFA with six points (2g, 4a). Jimmy Curran had two goals, while Ridge Flick had two assists. Brian Wilson was in goal for Air Force and had six saves.

Connect the Dots
When Penn and Denver meet on Saturday, Quaker head coach Mike Murphy will match wits with the man who might ultimately be responsible for him even being at Penn, Bill Tierney. Tierney's decision to leave Princeton for Denver caused a coaching domino effect that saw Chris Bates leave Drexel for Princeton; Brian Voelker leave Penn for Drexel; and Murphy hired at Penn.

Penn Notes
*Penn has outscored its opponents 12-10 in the first half of games this season, but been outscored 20-8 in the second half (9-3 in the third quarter, 11-5 in the fourth).

*Junior Corey Winkoff is the team's top point man so far, with one goal and six assists for seven points.

*The leading assist man for Penn since he arrived on campus, Winkoff has 49 dishes for his career; he needs 12 to crack the program's all-time Top 10.

*Winkoff has a 10-game point-scoring streak dating back to last season.

*Sophomore Dan Savage and senior Rob McMullen lead Penn with four goals apiece; they have both scored twice in each game this season.

*Junior Al Kohart is third on the team in scoring with three goals and two assists for five points, behind Winkoff and Savage (who has two assists with his four goals for six points).

*Sophomore Will Amling scored a goal on Wednesday night, giving him three this season.

*Senior Chris Harms scored Wednesday night at Lafayette, his first goal since March 22, 2008 (against Harvard).

*Senior Justin Lynch has a .557 win percentage on faceoffs this season, going 29-of-52 on the X. He had 16 wins Wednesday night at Lafayette.

*Lynch already has 17 ground balls this season, while senior Joe Kelly and sophomore John Conneely have seven apiece.

*Senior Chris Casey has started the first two games in goal, but he was replaced midway through the Lafayette game by sophomore Joe Hegener who had four saves in 20 minutes of action while allowing four goals. Casey was the main starter in 2007 and 2008, while Hegener was the No. 1 guy much of last year.

Quoting Coach Murphy
"There are positives and negatives to turning around so quickly after a loss like we had Wednesday. I think it's primarily a good thing, though. The players have to learn about moving on from a failure. We did not play well Wednesday, and the guys know that. But we played hard."

"After Wednesday's game, I was impressed with some of the things that our upperclass guys said in the huddle. They are trying to get ahold of the situation. They are frustrated, but I like the fact that they are trying to get a handle on the situation."

"I think this weekend is more helping us find out who we are, figure out our personality. The guys came back from Wednesday night and had a good workout in the weight room Thursday morning, and I expect us to respond well in our play the next few days. We just need to stay the course."

"This is a busy time, both with all the games we play and also with the schoolwork these guys have. The steps we take are pretty immediate -- we won't talk about Air Force until after our game with Denver on Saturday. But this week we pulled back a little bit in the amount of time we spent in practice; we went shorter and lighter."