The Penn women’s lacrosse team doesn’t use spring break as a week of training.
Rather, in an eight-day span it plays three games, each with its own implications.
Saturday, the No. 7 Quakers travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on No. 2 North Carolina in a battle of two of the nation’s top teams. Next Wednesday marks the home opener for the Red and Blue, as they host a tall and athletic Rutgers squad before the Ivy season opens at home against Harvard on March 10.
Coach Karin Brower Corbett gave The Daily Pennsylvanian some quick hits and keys to each game.
North Carolina: Stay conservative to make up for speed. Corbett recognizes that the Tar Heels (5-0) are faster than her Quakers (1-0). Unlike last Saturday against Drexel, Penn won’t be able to dominate and score based on quickness, so instead the Red and Blue must create and take advantage of open looks.
The Quakers also have to find a way to control North Carolina’s fast breaks, which Corbett calls “deadly.” Of the Tar Heels’ 81 goals this season, 49 have been unassisted.
“We have to be a little bit more conservative to play them because they can change the game so quickly,” Corbett said.
Rutgers: Prepare for physicality. Corbett said the Scarlet Knights are “very athletic,” and “have a lot of height.” And while the Red and Blue will be reprieved from North Carolina’s speed, Rutgers is a very physical team looking to make some noise as the underdog.
The Scarlet Knights opened up their season with two one-goal losses to Temple and Cornell, but rebounded with an 11-10 double-overtime win over Princeton on Wednesday night.
They have a deep offensive squad that can quickly fire off two to three goals in a game, so Corbett’s key focus is to “play a good team defense.”
Harvard: Battle for a sixth straight Ivy title begins. The Quakers are the five-time Ancient Eight champions, and a win over up-and-coming Harvard will once again put them on the road to Ivy success. But unlike the Red and Blue, the Crimson only graduated one player last year.
The last time these two teams met up, Penn eeked out a one-goal victory on the road. As the league continues to get stronger, every game matters, even this early in the season.
“Harvard [is a team] that people are underestimating,” Corbett said. “They’re very good and I think they’re going to surprise a lot of people, and we hope it’s not us.”
Junior leadership. Juniors Meredith Cain and Maddie Poplawski, as well as Caroline Bunting — who was out against Drexel but returns to the lineup Saturday — are “ready to take on that kind of seniority upperclassmen position,” Corbett said.
Much of Penn’s success will be contingent on the junior trio “[taking] it to the cage and [putting] points on the board for us.”