The University of Pennsylvania women’s lacrosse team got a taste of winning last season and is hungry for more. The Quakers sported an 9-7 overall mark and went 4-3 in the Ivy League for their first winning Ancient Eight season since 1988. They topped Temple for the first time in a decade, handed Cornell a tough loss at home and took No. 18 Penn State into overtime on Franklin Field.
All those accomplishments were just another step in building a top-notch women’s lacrosse program in Philadelphia and this season, the Quakers have the talent and determination to move even closer to the NCAA Tournament.
“Last season was a stepping stone for us,” Head Coach Karin Brower said. “We beat teams (Cornell and Temple) for the first time since I’ve been here. We accomplished a lot, including not giving up on ourselves and learning to play with the best. We are ready to continue towards our goal of making the NCAA Tournament.”
“We got a taste of winning last season and want more,” Brower added. “After the last game of the season (vs. Brown) the team was already talking about this upcoming season and figuring out what they needed to do to prepare for it.”
The Quakers, who graduated only one player last season, will have a lot of depth on Franklin Field this spring. Eleven freshmen will join the roster in 2005, including four US Lacrosse All-Americans. With the talent and skills the Quakers possess this season, the Red and Blue could return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1984.
Another exciting element for the 2005 season lies in the senior class. “This year’s seniors were my first recruiting class here at Penn. They are ready to lead this program to new heights,” Brower said. “This is something they have been waiting four years to do.”
Penn had no trouble finding the back of the net last season as it outscored opponents, 154-130. It was the third-highest offensive output in Penn lacrosse history and with the return of four of the top-five goal scorers from last season and six student-athletes who recorded double-digit tallies in 2004, Penn could set new records this spring.
The attack will be spearheaded by senior Katie Spofford, sophomore Chrissy Muller and junior Ali Ryan. The trio scored 44 percent of the Red and Blue’s goals last season. Muller scored 24 goals and added 13 assists in her rookie season to finish second on the team in scoring, while Spofford tallied 24 goals and added three assists for the third spot. Ryan came in fourth with 19 goals with eight of those goals coming off feeds from Muller. The duo of Muller and Ryan combined for 11 goals in 2004 and could be a force to reckon with come February.
Seniors Allie Juras and Alex Thomas will also contribute on the attack. Juras started every game last season and added 10 goals and five assists, while Thomas saw action in 12 contests, scoring seven goals.
Newcomer Rachel Manson could see herself in the mix as well. Manson, who comes from a highly successful high school program, earned first-team All-American honors as a senior at St. Stephens and St. Agnes.
Midfielder Emily Cochran finished fifth on the team in scoring last season despite missing eight games due to injury. Cochran scored 21 goals in just eight contests before suffering a torn ACL against Cornell and was forced to the sidelines for the rest of the season. With Cochran back in the line up, the offensive opportunities will be endless.
Senior Sara Shelley and sophomore Caroline Finger are two returning midfielders who contributed to last season’s offensive surge as well. Shelley scored 10 goals and had two helpers last season, while Finger added nine tallies and one assist.
Nine of the Quakers’ newcomers will provide the Red and Blue with several options in the midfield. Laura Ahearn, Allison Ambrozy, Andrea Duggan, Kaitlin Farmer, Tara Kirnan, Ester Polgar, Katherine Maxwell, Chelsea Kocis and Melissa Lehman will provide a great deal of depth for the Red and Blue. Ahearn, Ambrozy and Lehman earned All-America honors in high school and could make an immediate impact on the program.
Senior Kate Miller and juniors Lauren McDermott and Kate Parker will man the defense this season. Parker, a second-team All-Ivy and second-team All-Mid Atlantic selection in 2004, caused 18 turnovers and collected 21 ground balls last season. She has great speed and can move the ball down down the field with ease.
Sophomores Sarah Eastburn and Karen Jann return after solid rookie campaigns. Jann started every game last season and scored her first collegiate point against Villanova. She was third on the team in caused turnovers with 17 and led the team in ground balls with 30. Eastburn saw action in 12 contests making five starts.
Senior Liz Lorelli returns as the Quakers most experienced goalie after starting all 16 games last season. Lorelli recorded the fourth-best goals against average in the League and the ninth best in the nation (8.20). A walk-on as a freshman, Lorelli has seen vast improvements over her three seasons in the cage and has the potential to be one of best goalies in the conference. Backing up Lorelli last season was junior Karrie Moore, who appeared in five contests last season including seeing significant time against Brown, Rutgers and No.1 Princeton. Moore saved 57 percent of the shots she faced and could see more time in the cage this year if Lorelli moves to a field position.
Brower is looking for freshman Sara Waxman, to make an immediate impact in 2005 after earning honorable mention All-American accolades at Sidwell Friends.
The Quakers added two very tough teams to their already difficult schedule. Penn will host Ohio State and travel to No. 8 Northwestern which play in the American Lacrosse Conference. The Red and Blue will also take on nationally-ranked Loyola, Johns Hopkins and Penn State as well as the always powerful Ivy League teams. The Ancient Eight had three teams ranked in the IWLCA top-15 poll in 2004, including top-ranked Princeton.
What to Expect
The Quakers began their journey down the path of success last season. With the same positive attitude, dedication and hard work from a year ago along with the addition of 11 fresh faces in 2005, the road to the NCAA Tournament could be just around the corner.
Written by Heather Palmer, associate director of athletic communications