ITHACA, N.Y. - A young Penn squad enters the 2007-08 season with renewed optimism and momentum after its best season since capturing the national championship in 2000. Under the leadership of head coach Jack Wyant, the Quakers built a 10-2 season, while enjoying time ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Penn returns 12 players from last year’s team, including All-America and All-Ivy sophomores Kristen Lange and Sydney Scott, who held down the top two positions last season. Lange, seeded seventh, surprised many when she reached the finals of the CSA Individual Championships last season.
The Quakers boasted the top ranking in the country until a loss at Princeton on Jan. 31. This season, they look to maintain that ranking through the end of the campaign. Britt Hebden, Tara Chawla, Alisha Turner, Christina Matthias, Lauralynn Drury, Emily Goodwin, Elizabeth Kern and Chloe Wynne round out a talented and deep lineup. With added experience from their young top of the order, Penn will be prepared for the season-long grind.
“This team has experienced the pressure that comes with being a top-ranked team,” Wyant said. “They have won in hostile gyms and they have won big matches at home. I expect this team will embrace the big matches and thrive in those situations again. Last year we earned a place among the elite teams. Nothing is a given, and this year we need to, once again, demonstrate that we belong at the top.”
The Quakers bring in one freshman in 2007-08, Annie Madeira of Berwyn, Pa.
“Annie works hard,” said Wyant. “She has very good technique. Over the past two years I think she has improved more than anyone in the juniors. She will continue to grow in our program with so many talented players to train with day in and day out.”
The Quakers have positioned themselves to taste success both this season and beyond with just three seniors on the roster (Drury, Kern and Wynne).
Away from Philadelphia, Wyant had the opportunity to serve as the head coach of the 2007 United States Junior Women’s World Championships team. He guided the squad to an eighth-place finish in Hong Kong in August, 2007.
“Few may see this, but coaching the Junior National team mellowed me a bit,” Wyant said of the experience. “Working with kids with whom you have limited exposure and time teaches you to stick to the basics. Build up their confidence. Coach through repetition and action instead of lecturing. That experience is going to help me be a better coach here at Penn.”