#LMRanks: No. 13 Penn Quakers (WD1)
|Goalie Lucy Ferguson stepped in and played a huge role last year for the Quakers, who won all four overtime games they played a year ago. (John Strohsacker)|
Previous: No. 14 Stanford Cardinal
2012 Record: 11-6 (7-0 Ivy)
Coach: Karin Brower Corbett (15th year)
Record at Penn: 146-86
Draw Control: 2
D Meg Markham (Jr.)
An All-Region and unanimous first-team All-Ivy pick, Markham returns as Penn's top takeaway defender after showing tremendous growth in her sophomore season. "I didn't feel last year there was a player she couldn't match up with and hang with," Corbett said. "That was a big difference." Her 34 draw controls and 31 ground balls are also team bests.
D Lydia Miller (Sr.)
Miller only played one game last year while rehabbing a knee injury, and her return gives Penn three lockdown defenders with Markham, Taylor Foussadier and her. "I think Lydia's back better than she was," Corbett said. "She had some huge games for us as freshman. She's a big leader on the field for us. She's in charge of the defense."
2009 Final Four
2011 First Round
2012 First Round
2013 First Round
A renewed commitment to discipline and accountability if Penn is going to make waves nationally. Penn turned the ball over 197 times last year, often at the most inopportune times. "It's the most turnovers we had in a long time," Corbett said. "I don't think we learned from it. I'm hoping we learned we have to be cleaner, especially against those top teams."
Ivy League titles in a row for Penn, tying them with Harvard for the longest streak in conference history. It's also the longest current conference championship streak in the country. Six of those titles have been outright, and last year's 7-0 Ivy run was their fifth perfect record in seven years. Said Corbett: "They want to win, and I believe they can." Dominant as they have been, it wasn't easy last year. Three of their Ivy wins came in overtime before a pair of convincing wins earned them their second Ivy League Tournament championship.
What Rival Coaches Say
"Lydia Miller's return adds stability to Penn's defense. It's hard to say what we can expect from the offense, but we know the defense will be solid and aggressive."
"Slow and methodical style – and smarts – keep Penn in games against teams with superior talent. They will again be a solid team and No. 1 or No. 2 in the Ivy."
"Disciplined but defendable."
"With Penn, Dartmouth, Cornell and Princeton, the Ivy battle will continue and as always will come down to the conference tournament."
In a Nutshell: Anyone on heart medication had to stay away from Penn games in 2013. The Quakers played five one-goal games and won four of them. Penn was 4-for-4 in overtime games which saved it after an 0-3 start. Said Corbett: "We didn't play to the potential I thought we could have." Penn still went on to claim its seventh straight Ivy title and second Ivy tournament, but was crushed by UVA in the NCAA first round.
High Point: After all its close contests in the regular season, Penn disposed of Cornell and Dartmouth by a combined 20-12 score to claim its second Ivy League Tournament title in four years. "They played really well those two days," Corbett said. "The seniors had a great weekend. The three senior starters made the all-tournament team and played great. It's great when you have seniors that have put in so much to come out with something like that."
Low Point: A 6-5 loss to Rutgers left them 0-3. They had just 18 goals through three games and sat on the brink of falling out of the Top 20. "It was like, are we going to win a game? To their credit, they turned it around. The Ivy season was upon us, and we had to get going. They were able to move forward and play well." Penn won nine of its next 10 games to secure the Ivy crown.
Best Case: Penn shows true growth over the season, getting major contributions from a deep sophomore class that breaks out together to combine with a veteran core that knows how to win. The offense is invigorated by players in new spots and an up tempo focus, and Ferguson is even better in goal behind a defense that can't be solved. The Quakers not only break the Ivy record for consecutive championships but find a way past the first day of the NCAA Tournament.
Worst Case: The Ivy League finally catches up with Penn, which needed overtime for three of its league wins last year. Without a go-to superstar developing on attack, unable to win the draw control consistently enough and with too much pressure on the defense, the gap finally is closed this year. Their conference title streak comes to a close with three of its toughest meetings – Dartmouth, Princeton and Cornell – all on the road and a first-round exit in the Ivy Tournament.
Self-Examination— Karin Brower Corbett on...
Tory Bensen: "She's playing attack for us. She had a really good fall. Her freshman year, she played midfield. Her junior year, she played attack. We thought she might move back to midfield, but she's doing a great job leading our attack. Nina Corcoran's a good feeder and working well with Tory. They had a nice fall together."
Lely DeSimone: "We moved her up from defense. She has tremendous speed. She's one of the fastest kids on our team. We struggled against speed last year in the midfield. She has a quick first step. She needed confidence last year and defense was what she grabbed hold of as a freshman. She's been going to goal this year. She's taking the attack as what she's working on this year."
Lindsey Smith: "She's one of our captains. It was great to have her back last year. She has tremendous game sense. She really makes things happen. She can transition well. She makes things click. She's moving the ball for people. She's the kid you can count on all the time."
Lacrosse Magazine will continue its 2014 college lacrosse preview throughout January and into February, with team-by-team breakdowns of the top teams in NCAA Division I, II and III men's and women's lacrosse. Follow the countdown at LaxMagazine.com/LMRanks and on twitter at #LMRanks.