Some might attribute it to the luck of the Irish, but Penn men’s lacrosse put on an offensive clinic Saturday against Princeton at the Tigers’ Class of ’52 Stadium, blowing its previous season-high of 12 goals out of the water to cruise to a 20-10 victory in their first Ivy contest of the season and first win at Princeton since 1988.
The Quakers (4-2, 1-0 Ivy) saw eight different players score, including a pair of five-goal performances from sophomore Kevin McGeary, who also had 2 assists, and freshman Simon Mathias. Senior captain Nick Doktor had one goal and six assists on the day for his second seven-point performance in three games, while senior Patrick Berkery and freshman Alex Roesner each had a hat trick.
After averaging just 10.6 goals per game in its previous five contests, the young Red and Blue offense scored 20 goals for the first time since 2001 and finally took the next step that Penn coach Mike Murphy said he had been waiting to happen in weeks previous.
“Coach [Patrick] Myers did a really good job this week of tweaking the offense to better suit our personnel and we had some young players start to step up,” he said after the game. “We had some guys in some different positions start to produce that hadn’t been before. Kevin McGeary starred with five goals today and Pat Berkery also stepped up today, which was great because they had not been producing at this high of a level for us before.”
The defense also had a great game, forcing 13 turnovers while holding the Tiger offense scoreless for a stretch of almost 22 minutes over the course of the first half, never allowing Princeton (2-4, 0-1) to make the game close. Freshman Reed Junkin made nine saves.
Despite the large margin of victory, the Quakers will need to make some marked improvements to their game if they hope to avenge last year's triple overtime loss to Cornell next week.
Penn continued to struggle at the faceoff spot, winning just 14 of 33 faceoffs, continuing a season-long trend. Murphy also emphasized that the Quakers will have to stay out of the box to avoid man-down situations. The Red and Blue were drawn into eight penalties for a total of 6:30 of time man-down. That combination of man-down time and poor face-off percentage could be deadly against an Ivy team with one of the best faceoff percentages in the NCAA at .652.
There are however, plenty of other areas where Penn is doing quite well. Their propensity for fouling hasn’t cost them too much; the Quakers are currently ranked seventh in the nation in man-down defense, killing off 77.8 percent of the penalties they take. As of yesterday, the Red and Blue were up to first in the nation in saves per game with 14.8. Offensively, Tewaaraton watch list member Nick Doktor has led the team to a No. 18 ranking in assists per game.
So while some facets of the squad may still be a work in progress, they certainly have had plenty going for them so far this season. And at this rate, if their young impact players continue to take steps forward with every game, the Quakers have the potential to make some waves in the Ivy League.
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