Women's Lax To Open 2007 Campaign Saturday

Penn opens its season Saturday when it hosts Drexel at Franklin Field at 1 p.m. The Quakers are coming off a 10-6 season last year, itshighest win total in nearly 25 years.

Some things to think about as the Quakers embark on the 2007 season in the hunt for an Ivy League title...

• Penn is coming off its most successful season in nearly a quarter-century. Last year, the Quakers posted a record of 10-6 overall, its first 10-win season since the team went 11-4-1 en route to the Ivy League title in 1982.

• The Quakers finished last season ranked for the first time since 1994. Penn was 20th in the final IWLCA poll and spent most of the season in the rankings, peaking at 16th in early April.

• A total of 16 letterwinners return from last year’s team. Just six players are lost, including four starters. Overall, the Quakers return eight starters.

• Head Coach Karin Brower returns multiple offensive weapons from a team that had a program-record 167 goals last year. Senior Chrissy Muller led the team in points (35) and assists (16) last year. Rachel Manson returns after a sophomore campaign that saw her score 21 goals and hand out 11 assists, while juniors Allison Ambrozy (19 goals, 9 assists) and Melissa Lehman (22 goals, 4 assists) and sophomore Becca Edwards (17 goals, 2 assists) all return.

• Defensively, Penn graduated two starters from a backline that was ninth in the nation in scoring defense, but returns captains Karen Jann and Sarah Eastburn. Eastburn collected 16 ground balls and caused 15 turnovers, while Jann scooped 19 ground balls and caused 12 turnovers. Collectively, they helped the 2006 Quakers hold opponents to 310 shots, a whopping 140 fewer than Penn’s offense produced. Hilary Renna will also be an option on defense after starting nine games and playing in all 16 last year.

• Draw controls were a major advantage for the Quakers last year, as they out-drew their opponents 190-138. Allison Ambrozy and Tarah Kirnan — both returners — took the bulk of the draws, and Ambrozy led the team with 29 controls.

• A talented crop of first-year players were key to the team last year and will be called upon to step up once again. Becca Edwards was the first call off the bench as a freshman and produced 17 goals and two assists. Hilary Renna proved to be an adept defender, starting nine games and playing in all 16. Samantha Bird played in 11 games and scored three times, while Ginna Lance, Hannah Rudloff, Katie Mazer and Kaitlyn Lombardo each saw plenty of playing time last year as well. And although she’s a junior, Melissa Lehman came off a first-year injury to have a huge debut as a sophomore, scoring 22 goals and four assists.

• Head Coach Karin Brower believes the Class of 2010 is the best she’s ever had, and with good reason — the class boasts speed, defensive prowess and plenty of scoring ability. Several freshmen will vie for starting positions this season.

• Chrissy Muller will look to seal her place in the record books this season. The senior is among the program’s all-time leaders in every offensive category and is third all-time with 46 assists. Muller already has the most assists of any Quaker in a generation, and she needs 15 helpers to tie Lisa Romig ’82 for second place all-time.

• The University of Pennsylvania and Franklin Field will host the 2007 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship on Memorial Day weekend. Itwill bethefifthtimean NCAAlacrossechampionship has been held at college athletics’ oldest stadium, which has previously held the 1983 and 1985 women's and1973 and 1992 men’s finals.

• The Quakers’ schedule will once again be one of the hardest in the nation. Seven opponents this season were ranked in the final IWLCA Top 20 poll of 2006, and both teams in last year’s national final are on the slate. The schedule includes two-time defending national champion Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Penn State and Syracuse. In the always-tough Ivy League, national runner-up Dartmouth, Princeton and Cornell were all ranked last year. Fortunately for Penn, four Ivy games will be at home — Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth and Princeton will visit Franklin Field.

Quoting Head Coach Karin Brower

On building on last year’s success:
“I think each year we’ve been getting better and better. Last year we took to the field expecting to win, and I could see that in the girls. We struggled a bit when we got behind, and it takes beating teams to have success — success breeds success. We play expecting to win.”

On the strength of the Ivy League:
“Having three of the 16 teams in the tournament last year be from the League was pretty amazing. I think among us, Princeton, Dartmouth and Cornell, it’s pretty open, and I expect to see three of us in the NCAA Tournament.”

On the team’s strong schedule:
“Winning the Ivy League is a way into the postseason, but it’s actually the hardest route for us. Doing well in our region and against the top teams in the country can get us there by getting us the nod for those at-large bids.”

On her goals for 2007:
“We were clearly disappointed in not making the tournament last year, but this year, we not only want to win the league and make the tournament, we want to play on our home field on Memorial Day weekend.”

On hosting the 2007 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship:
“One of the themes is ‘defending our house’ and beating every team that comes here this year. It gives us a home-field advantage if we can get there. I think it also shows the committment and the backing that the Penn athletic department has given to women’s lacrosse.”

On the freshman class:
“This is the best class we’ve ever had, not only in talent, but in depth. We have kids who will be vying for starting positions, and the bulk of them will have playing time. They will help give us the depth in the midfield that we’ve been trying to have. They have speed, they can score and their work ethic is fantastic.”

On the team’s attack:
“Chrissy Muller will once again lead our attack. She’s our composed, confident and vocal leader. She can score, but also set people up. Our strength will be on attack, and we’re very balanced. All seven kids there will be capable of scoring. We have a couple of players who can really put the team on their backs and win the game for us.”

On the midfield:
“We have a great deal of depth — we’re looking to play at least six midfielders per game. We have speed and some of our best defenders and attackers in the midfield.”

On the defense:
“We have some experience back with Karen Jann, Sarah Eastburn and Hilary Renna. We have some good takeaway defenders, and we’ll look to cause more turnovers this year.”

On the goalkeeping:
“I think Sarah Waxman has spent the summer working hard, and she has the capabilities to be one of the best goalkeepers in the League. We’re excited about the athletic ability of freshman Emily Szelest.”