“Our biggest thing is to be ourselves,” senior captain Tim Schwalje said.
If beating No. 14 Duke is the Quakers just being “themselves”, then they have a promising season ahead of them.
Friday night, the Penn men’s lacrosse team (1-0) took down the Blue Devils (2-3) by a final score of 14-9 at Franklin Field.
The Red and Blue struggled a bit early on, ending the first half down one point to Duke, 7-6.
Penn coach Mike Murphy fired his team up during halftime by urging them not only to take every opportunity to make a play and take better shots, but also to step up their defense.
In the second half, the Red and the Blue hit the field looking like a new team.
Penn took the lead with four unanswered goals following an opening score by Duke’s Josh Offit.
The Quakers then added four more after another Blue Devils score to clinch the game.
“We try to be active defensively,” Murphy said. “We were a little passive in the first half.”
The players agree that their game was a little off in the beginning, but came on strong in the end.
“In the second half we were really playing our style of lacrosse, which is playing fast and playing physical,” Schwalje said.
Murphy acknowledges that Duke is a very athletic team, but the Quakers used that to their advantage.
“We knew we had to play hard,” Murphy said. “And we had the advantage of scouting them [so far this season].”
This was the Blue Devils’ fifth game, so the Penn players knew Duke’s strengths and weaknesses before they even hit the field.
“One of the advantages of playing a team this good is you really figure out what you need to work on,” Murphy said.
After crushing a top-ranked team, it might not seem like the Quakers have much room for improvement, but Murphy and his players agree there is always something that can be done better.
“We were fired up from last year, after having a frustrating season,” sophomore and leading scorer of the game Isaac Bock said.
The Quakers had a disappointing season last year, finishing 3-10 and dropping five of six Ivy games, but the Red and Blue have left their struggles of the past in the rearview mirror.
“The way we see it is, it’s a climb,” Schwalje said, “and this is just the first step.”
Penn’s next step is taking on St. Joseph’s at home on Tuesday night.
“I think this sets us up really well for our next game,” Murphy said. “We just want to keep getting better and better.”