The advantage of being an underdog is that nobody sees you coming.
After losing three of their top five scorers from last year’s 3-10 season, many thought that this would be a rebuilding year for the Penn men’s lacrosse team. But Mike Murphy and his young squad knew otherwise.
Against Duke, the Red and Blue were noticeably fired up for their season opener, a game that they’ve had circled on their calendar all offseason.
The Quakers knew their opponent inside and out after watching four games’ worth of film on the Blue Devils, and were able to exploit Duke’s weaknesses.
Penn (1-0) was ready for Duke’s experienced attack, led by junior Jordan Wolf, and held Duke’s returning All-ACC selection to just two points.
Against Saint Joseph’s (2-1), the roles will be reversed. The Quakers are now ranked 14th in the national coaches poll and 15th in the Nike media poll.
The Hawks come into tonight’s 7 p.m. matchup having lost all nine times they have faced off against the Quakers, including each of the last three seasons.
As the heavy favorites, the Quakers will be subject to a lot of pressure.
Against Duke, new faces made the difference, as underclassmen scored eight of Penn’s fourteen goals.
Sophomore Isaac Bock, who scored once all of last season, led the Quakers with four goals.
Freshman Nick Doktor added a pair of goals, while fellow classmate Mark Leonhard and junior Drew Belinsky each recorded a goal.
Judging solely from one game, it appears that the addition of Judd Lattimore as an offensive assistant coach has transformed the Quaker’s offense.
Penn’s 14 goals against Duke was its highest scoring output since scoring 16 goals against St. Joe’s on March 10, 2010.
But unlike the Blue Devils, St. Joe’s will be not be caught off guard by Penn’s fast-paced offense.
So far this season, the Hawks have showcased a stellar defense. They have given up just eight goals in their last two games, as they beat High Point and the Virginia Military Academy, 8-5 and 10-3, respectively.
And like the Quakers, the St. Joe’s offense has been led by underclassmen. In fact, all of the Hawks’ goals this season have come from underclassmen.
The Quakers should not ride too high after their big victory over the Blue Devils.
Rather, they should watch out because St. Joe’s will be falling under the radar — just as the Quakers were before Duke.
DAVID GREENBAUM is a senior economics and international relations major from Short Hills, N.J. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com.