Phillips | Penn lacrosse's growth will take time in life after Brennan
Without their former teammate, several seniors have begun distributing more assists
March 18, 2013, 9:03 pm·
Ellen Frierson | DP
A year after Erin Brennan put a stamp on Penn’s record books, the Quakers are still figuring out how to play without her on the field.
Indeed, the former attack graduated ranking second overall in career point totals with 213. And last year, she accounted for 48 percent of the team’s assists.
Brennan’s absence puts the weight on the upperclassmen — especially seniors Maddie Poplawski and Meredith Cain.
While Penn’s problems may seem to stem from not being able to find the net — the team put up just 18 goals over its first three games before entering Ivy play — that’s not the case.
Both Poplawski and Cain’s scoring numbers are down from last season, as well as juniors Caroline Bunting’s and Courtney Tomchik’s. And those down numbers result from Brennan’s absence.
Without her to feed the ball to the Red and Blue’s goal-scorers, there has naturally been a drop in production.
But that’s good news for the Quakers.
The first five games have shown that Penn does not have to rely on just one player to dish out the majority of the team’s assists.
Instead, each of the aforementioned players have happily taken on more of that responsibility.
Poplawski has already matched her season total in assists from last year with two, a clear sign that she has changed her style of play.
Goals used to be the only things expected out of Poplawski, and she was always up to the task. Last season, she scored 29 times. But without Brennan, her role has gradually changed.
And she isn’t the only player who is looking to distribute more often. Cain and Bunting are tied for the team high in assists with four.
Naturally, with each of these players known more for their scoring than for their distribution skills, there will be an adjustment period.
That’s why it’s not time to panic yet.
Against Yale, Bunting found her passing touch, dishing out four assists as the Quakers beat the Bulldogs, 12-8.
While the lacrosse season is quick — there are only nine games left on the schedule — Penn will slowly get used to the offensive changes that were put into place to compensate for Brennan’s absence.
While the upperclassmen on the team grow more accustomed to their new roles, up-and-comers can step into the positions left vacant.
Freshman Iris Williamson has done just that. In her first five games, she scored 13 goals, providing Penn with a welcomed offensive spark each time she scored.
Additionally, the defense has proven to be solid, giving up just 8.2 points per game.
If the defense keeps on playing well and Penn continues to let its young players step up, then the offense as a whole will enjoy the time it needs to develop.
This is not the same type of team that Brennan led for the last four years.
But in their time as Quakers, Poplawski, Cain and Bunting have all shown their talents and have had no problem putting up high goal totals.
Now it’s time for them to show their leadership skills by getting the team to gel as an offensive unit.
The last two Ivy games were a good start, and the Quakers will only continue to grow as these last nine games unfold.
JOHN PHILLIPS is a junior English major from Philadelphia. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com.