As the spring season starts to wind down, there are a number of Penn teams in the hunt for an Ivy title and beyond. We debate which team is best positioned heading down the final stretch.
Senior Sports Editor Nick Buchta: There’s no question to me that it’s women’s lacrosse. They’ve been here before. They’ve won eight of the last nine Ivy titles, and they’re out for blood after Princeton wrested the title away from them last season.
That early shock delivered by Dartmouth seems to have lit a fire under the Quakers, and I don’t see them cooling off any time soon. They rebounded with an overtime win over No. 8 Northwestern before rattling off two Ancient Eight wins to close out their home schedule for the year.
With three games to go, coach Karin Corbett has expressed concern about the recent offensive production from her squad. But that’s going to come around. Critical for the Red and Blue has been the absolutely solid performance of the team’s defense. I’m not worried about any offense anchored by senior Nina Corcoran — whose 3.08 assists per game lead the nation — and some of the Ivy League’s top goal-scorers in Alex Condon and Iris Williamson.
We’ll find out soon if this team is destined to take back the title, and tonight’s contest at Princeton is going to go a long way toward deciding that outcome.
Sports Editor Tom Nowlan: To me, the answer is simple: men’s track and field. The Red and Blue have dominated this season on the legs and arms of athletes both young and old, and there is no reason to believe that the team will only continue to improve as they enter the most important part of their season.
Freshman sprinter Cavalry Rogers has broke out in a major way in the early days of his Penn career, already sitting third all time in program history in the 200 meters; his coach already cites him as one of the top 10 freshmen in the country.
Meanwhile, senior Sam Mattis who, if you remember, won the national championship in the discus a year ago, has somehow managed to get better; at last month’s Philadelphia College Classic, he registered the longest throw in the entire world so far this year.
And, of course, senior distance runner Tom Awad has continued to dominate all competition, Ivy League or otherwise. At February’s Millrose Games, he ran an (albeit indoor) mile in 3:57, an Ancient Eight record.
Obviously, these three are the best in the Ivy League (if not the nation) at what they do. If they even maintain their status quo, the Quakers have plenty to look forward to at the upcoming Penn Relays and Ivy Championships.
Sports Editor Tommy Rothman: Men’s lacrosse has a great shot at a great finish to the spring season.
Penn dropped games against No. 3 Brown and No. 1 Yale, but has had a strong Ivy League season otherwise. The Quakers clinched a berth in the Ivy Tournament with Saturday’s win over Harvard, so they are two wins away from a league title and a chance to play in the NCAA Championships.
The 17-6 loss to the Bears was the lowlight of Penn’s season, but the Red and Blue’s effort in the 11-10 overtime loss to the top-ranked Bulldogs showed that the team can play with anybody in the country, including the nation’s best squad.
The Quakers have had some very high-scoring outbursts, including a whopping 20-goal tally against Princeton in their Ivy opener. If Penn can get hot on the offensive end and play staunch defense, there’s no reason the team can’t challenge for the league crown and win its first NCAA Tournament game since 1988.
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