Out of the top 10 women’s lacrosse teams in the country, No. 7 Penn is one of three not to feature a player ranking better than No. 50 in goals per game.
And the Quakers are quite content with that statistic.
Rather than have a player averaging nearly four goals per game, as No. 1 Northwestern senior Shannon Smith does, the Red and Blue (6-4, 4-0 Ivy) prefer to distribute the wealth.
The Quakers have five players with more than 15 goals on the season thus far, making life in the offensive end quite easy for them and quite troublesome for opponents.
“You can’t just shut down one person on our attack,“ said junior Meredith Cain, who is second on the team with 19 goals. “We have so many other options who can pick up that slack.”
Though Penn’s top goal scorers put it in the net with similar frequencies, they all have different styles. Thus, for such a free-flowing attack to be effective, each player must know the others’ tendencies.
“Everyone has their different moves that they like, and we’ve been able to figure all of that out,” said sophomore Courtney Tomchik, who has netted 16 goals this year. “Erin [Brennan] likes her lefty crease roll, Caroline [Bunting] likes to drive from up top and Meredith is great on curl cuts.”
In addition to being attentive to each teammate’s style, a balanced offense forces each player to check her ego.
“I don’t think anyone on our attack isn’t willing to step up and do anything for everyone else,” Tomchik said.
Even though the team is selfless, as the statistics indicate, players must still have the urge to score.
“If you don’t want to score, then you’re not very competitive,” Cain said. “You want to try and be the best, to have as many goals as you can, but you also have to think about what’s best for the attack.”
This dynamic creates a very difficult balancing act for coach Karin Brower Corbett.
“You definitely want a kid who has an eye for the net and who wants to go to the goal, but that can’t be the be-all, end-all,” Corbett said. “We’ve always had a team philosophy here, so we need unselfish players.”
Through 10 games, Penn has negotiated between these two seemingly contradictory emotions. And at the end of the day, it makes the Quakers as effective as possible.
But the mindset also has additional benefits, Cain believes.
“It makes playing the game more fun.”