patberkery

Senior midfielder Pat Berkery, who was on the team that came up just short of the Ivy League crown two years ago, is optimistic that this year's group can once again challenge to be top dog in the Ancient Eight.

Photo: Yosef Robele / The Daily Pennsylvanian

After the stage comes down and the sun comes up, Franklin Field will transform back from a concert venue to a stadium.

At 3 p.m. on Saturday, Penn men’s lacrosse will host Harvard in an attempt to snap out of a three-game losing streak.

“Coming off a tough loss to Yale in overtime and then being blown out by Brown last week, we’re just trying to rebound,” senior midfield Pat Berkery said.

But Harvard (6-5, 2-1 Ivy) is no easy foe. The Crimson are currently 2-1 in the Ancient Eight, their only Ivy loss coming against Brown in their opening game.

The Red and Blue are also familiar with the Bears’ strength. Last weekend, the Quakers fell, 17-6, up in Providence.

“We’ve looked at it a lot of different ways and analyzed it from quite a few vantage points,” coach Mike Murphy said. “At the end of the day we just — we didn’t play well against Brown in any phase of the game except for facing off.”

The Brown loss is not representative of how the Quakers (5-5, 2-2) have been playing so far this year. Despite the youth of those who are often on the field, the Red and Blue won their first two Ivy games and fell in overtime to No. 1 Yale.

“It’s not like we’re not capable of playing at a high level,” Murphy said. “We showed we are against Cornell and Princeton and against Yale for 45 minutes.”

While against Cornell and Princeton that was enough, the last 15 minutes of Penn’s game against the Bulldogs caused the contest to end in defeat for the Quakers.

The loss to Brown the next weekend forced the coaching staff to re-examine their strategy.

“We need to get back to the basic, most fundamental things that we do both offensively and defensively,” Murphy said. “And that’s what we’ve been doing yesterday and today.”

Harvard, unlike Penn, is coming into this contest off a win last weekend with momentum and thriving players on both sides of the field.

“They’re in the top 15 or 20 in both [offensive and defensive],” Murphy said. “There aren’t that many teams that are that way but for us, it’s really a matter of containing their attack unit as well as their first midfield line.”

One of the focal points of Harvard’s offense is Joe Lang, a California native and sophomore attack. In Murphy’s words, “He’ll draw some attention.”

But one area in which the Quakers had been struggling, yet are now successful, is faceoffs. The highlight of the Red and Blue’s loss last weekend was how many faceoffs they were able to win. And even though it did not lead to a victory, it was still a positive.

“We really hope we can continue to win faceoffs this [weekend] and that way if we can have a few more possessions, that really helps us because then you can relax, and if we can get a lead especially, it totally changes the way you play,” Murphy said.

The Quakers are no strangers to being blown out of a game, though. Two years ago, the Red and Blue were in a similar situation when they lost, 17-9, to Cornell.

“We rebounded really well and went on to win an Ivy League championship,” Berkery recalled. “So I’ve been pushing the mentality to the team that we shouldn’t think of this as a bad thing, we should take it as a good thing, it can change our team’s mentality and have a nice push into the rest of the season.”

In order to repeat that feat, Penn needs to win the next two games and secure a place in the Ivy Tournament. But in the immediate, the Quakers need a victory on Saturday.

“Harvard is obviously a really good team,” Berkery said. “We have to bring our A-game to beat them.”

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