January 17, 2013

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#LMranks: No. 12 Penn Quakers (Women)

by Justin Feil | LaxMagazine.com | Team Page/Schedule

Senior Maddie Poplawski is an all-around midfielder for the Quakers, who are planning to go deeper in the NCAA tournament.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Lacrosse Magazine is counting down its preseason rankings throughout the month of January exclusively on LaxMagazine.com.

Today continues a look at our NCAA Division I Top 20 rankings. For more, visit LaxMagazine.com/LMranks. Follow @LacrosseMag on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #LMranks. The countdown will resume Friday with profiles of the 11th-ranked teams in NCAA Division I men and women.

Power Ratings

Offense: 4*
Defense: 3
Goalkeeping: 2
Draw Control: 4
* Out of 5

Top Returner

M Maddie Poplawski (Sr.)
The well-rounded midfielder wins draws more often than any returning Ivy Leaguer, can cover an opponent's best player and is a serious scoring threat at the attack end. After a breakout campaign in 2012 that culminated in All-America accolades, she continues to set the standard for the Quakers.

X-Factor

A Meredith Cain (Sr.)
The graduation of leading goal scorer Erin Brennan leaves a void on offense, but Cain moves up from midfield to attack. "She's a great shooter, she's a great cutter, and she's become a great dodger," Penn coach Karin Brower Corbett said. "She can be good in our trap. Getting her where she doesn't have to play defense, she's going to really shine."

What's New?

Goalkeeper Emily Leitner graduated after leading Penn in every defensive category. Sophomore transfer Lucy Ferguson started 17 games at William & Mary and will compete for the starting job with junior Carly Churchill, who has appeared in two games in her career. "We have some options and can see who's playing the best," Corbett said. "We have a little more competition. I was nervous with just a junior and a freshman."

What's Not?

Junior Lydia Miller is expected back from the ACL injury she suffered just before last year's Ivy tournament. An All-Ivy pick as a freshman, she has started all but one game when healthy. "Last year she had a lot of responsibility with three new defenders with her," Corbett said. "She was learning how to lead them. Sometimes when you do that, you don't do your job as well. You worry about others." With more experience returning around her, she can dominate again.

2012 Recap

#LMranks WD1 Preseason Countdown

No. 20 Princeton
No. 19 Boston College
No. 18 Stony Brook
No. 17 UMass
No. 16 Towson
Monday: No. 15 Cornell
Tuesday: No. 14 Georgetown
Wednesday: No. 13 Ohio State
Thursday: No. 12 Penn
Friday: No. 11

More: Countdown schedule | MD1 | MD2 | WD2 | MD3 | WD3 | JuCo | MCLA | WCLA

Record: 9-8 (6-1 Ivy)

In a Nutshell: Penn won only twice against eight ranked opponents, but they handled the Ivy League with a critical last-game win at Princeton. The Quakers fell to Dartmouth in the Ivy tournament final, but their strength of schedule earned them at at-large NCAA berth, where they played Loyola tough before falling in overtime. "We just had too many injuries, no subs, and had freshmen that weren't quite ready," Corbett said. "In some ways, you're pleased that you won the Ivy League and made NCAAs and took Loyola to overtime. I wish I could have had more competition on the field from my team."

High Point: Winning at Princeton, 13-8, in the final regular-season Ivy game. Erin Brennan scored her 200th career point. After her second goal of the game, Princeton never got closer than two goals. "It was a strange tiebreaker to get into the Ivy League tournament," Corbett said. "If we beat Princeton, we could win the league, if we lost, we weren't even going to make the tournament. I was so proud of them."

Low Point: A 6-4 loss to Dartmouth in the Ivy tournament championship game. Penn roared out to a 3-0 lead and looked headed for their second crown in program history when they were completely stifled by the Dartmouth defense. For 43:48, the Quakers could not score. When they finally broke the drought, it came with less than a minute left and the game decided.

2013 Preview

Best Case: Penn finds the goaltending and defensive pressure to play the way it wants to, the offense is balanced and efficient, and its newfound midfield depth helps them equal the Ivy record for consecutive titles with its seventh. Not satisfied with that, the Quakers take the Ivy tournament and a pair of games in the NCAA tournament as the young contributors grow up during the season. "We want to be better than last year," Corbett said. "We want to win the Ivy League. We want to go farther."

Worst Case: The loss of Leitner and Brennan, who combined to lead the team in every category other than draw controls, is bigger than imagined, and not enough of the freshmen are ready to contribute yet. Penn falls a game shy for the Ivy regular-season and tournament titles before bowing out of the NCAAs in the first round.

Inside Scoop

Coach Karin Brower Corbett's comments on...

A Courtney Tomchik (Jr.)
"She was hurt freshman year, so last year was a freshman year for her and she did great. She's come back with more confidence. She's bigger and faster and stronger. I thought she had a tremendous fall."

A Caroline Bunting (Sr.)
"She has all the potential in the world. I'm hoping this year is her breakout year. The three of them in charge of the attack, all have the ability to assist and score."

M Shannon Mangini (Jr.)
"She grew into a good defender. She's a good matchup middie. She did well in that in the end."

Rival Coaches Say

"Leitner has been their backbone defensively. I know they have a transfer [goalie], but experience is one thing. I think Leitner carried them in many ways defensively. She had some really key saves at key times. I think they have a pretty good freshman class. It'll be interesting to see what kind of look those kids bring to that team."


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