PHILADELPHIA--The No. 5 Penn women's lacrosse team will host Drexel in the season opener, Saturday at 1 p.m. It is the first of five home games to start the season for the Quakers.
Neighboring Drexel will make three block trek to Franklin Field to take on Penn. Last year Penn edged Drexel in a tight 6-5 game at Vidas Field.
Prior to the season Head Coach Karin Brower answered questions on her program and the outlook for the 2009 season.
What is the best part about coaching at Penn?
There are wonderful coaches and support staff in this athletic department who work extremely hard providing a wonderful experience for the athletes. I also have a terrific group of young women who are committed to each other, this program, and the coaches.
What do you tell prospective student-athletes about Penn and your program?
This program is about more than wins and losses. It is about working harder than you ever thought you could, pushing yourself further than you ever thought you could, and learning life lessons that will propel you in your future as you move on from Penn. Our job as coaches is to get you to your potential as an athlete, but also as a leader and a person.
What is it like coaching and playing in such a strong lacrosse conference like the Ivy League?
It is a challenge and an honor. Every athlete in the Ivy League could have chosen another school in the league, and we have a great deal of respect for how intelligent and hard-working they all are. It is rewarding that lacrosse in the Ivy League can still compete nationally and it makes every game that much more challenging.
What does playing at a school with so much regional competition add to the levels your team can reach?
Lacrosse is mainly an East Coast sport, so it is a tremendous opportunity to play some of the best programs in the country only a drive away. This only helps our strength of schedule as we try to compete nationally. This program has talked a lot about proving itself and becoming a perennial contender. It was my goal to rebuild one of the oldest programs in the country and bring it back to national prominence. I am so proud of all of the players who took a chance and chose Penn to make this goal a reality.
In 2008 the mindset was looking to prove 2007 wasn’t a fluke. Now that Penn has established itself in a lot of ways, what is the mindset now?
We want to win our third consecutive Ivy League title and return to the Final Four and go one step further than last yeara national championship.
How will the experience of going deep into the NCAA tournament the last two seasons help this team?
The women have high expectations from themselves and know what it takes to get there.
After graduating a large and influential senior class, do you feel the returning players are ready to take over?
We have several returning players that you can point to, but I have been really impressed with the players’ work this fall. They are all improving and vying for those starting positions.
Who will the new leaders be?
Our three captains will be Samantha Bird, Kaitlyn Lombardo and Katie Mazer, but really I expect the rest of the seniors (Hilary Renna, Becca Edwards and Hannah Rudloff ) will also contribute to leading this team.
The Ivy League is always competitive, but Penn’s got a bit of a bullseye on its back, defending two titles now. Does that change anything for the team?
No, we dealt with that last year and know exactly how it will be this year. We just need to rise to the challenge.
This year’s goalkeepers have some big shoes to fill in two-time national goalkeeper of the year Sarah Waxman C’08. Are you happy with where they are?
Junior Emily Szelest had a great fall and we are excited to see what she can do this spring. Freshman Emily Leitner, a lefty, is challenging Szelest to bring her best.
Similarly on offense, Rachel Manson C’08 was a prolific scorer. Who will be the big scorers this season?
I expect Ali DeLuca to continue being a big scorer for us and we are excited to have Becca Edwards back after an ACL tear. I think we will have a great number of scorers to keep us balanced.
Penn has had one of the nation’s best defenses two years running and it has been an important part of the program’s success. Will that approach continue?
Of courseit is the signature of our program.