Roundtable | How will Penn fare in Ivy play?

With many Penn sports about to begin Ivy play while others like field hockey and women’s soccer are already in the midst of conference matches, it’s time to look at the expectations for each squad moving forward. Our editors look at what we’re looking for from some of Penn’s fall sports moving forward.

Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings: Focusing in on Penn field hockey, the Quakers are off to a solid 1-1 start within the Ancient Eight. The Red and Blue lost their first Ivy match against nationally-ranked Cornell and then beat Harvard behind a hat trick from senior midfield Alex Iqbal.

Princeton and Cornell seem to be the Ivy favorites at this point, but the Red and Blue certainly can make things interesting. With a strong core of seniors headed by Iqbal, attacker Emily Corcoran, goalkeeper Allison Weisenfels and MaryRose Croddick on defense, the rest of the season will be important as the upperclassmen look to go out with a bang.

While one still has to pay attention to the progression of those seniors, especially the relatively inexperienced Weisenfels, the upward trajectory of freshman attacker Alexa Hoover has to excite Penn fans going into the future. Hoover is currently third in the Ivies in goals scored and, alongside Corcoran and others on offense, makes the Red and Blue must-watch entertainment, regardless of their Ivy finish.

Sports Editor Ian Wenik: I think that you should be pretty confident if you’re a fan of Penn men’s soccer. The team is 4-4, and I wouldn’t call any of those losses “bad” in any sense of the word. The Quakers have taken on three different top 15 teams this season, and have held their own in each of those matches. Honestly, they should have come away with at least a draw against American.

That kind of performance against such a brutal nonconference schedule makes Penn the clear favorite to repeat as Ivy champs and earn a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. I don’t think that you can make the case for any other Ancient Eight team being as well prepared for the Ivy grind as the Quakers are.

This Saturday should be interesting, though. Penn will open up Ivy play against Cornell, which has won six of its last seven matches. If the Red and Blue aren’t careful, they could find themselves behind the eight-ball quickly.

Sports Editor Colin Henderson: You know I’ve gotta hype up the cross country team. Last week at the Main Line Invitational, the program got its first shot at an (almost) fully assembled Villanova squad that is consistently ranked at or near the top of the region, and the Quakers didn’t disappointed.

Despite being without some key runners, the women were dominant, and the men had enough depth to outlast the Wildcats. I’d say it’s just about official: The Red and Blue are no longer just up-and-comers, they’re certified contenders.

It should be interesting to see how they compete this weekend as they split up for the Paul Short and Notre Dame Invitationals , so big races with formidable competition. I fully expect more team-based  running from the two squads, as that is really what coach Steve Dolan has stressed throughout the season.

I’m especially looking forward to seeing how junior Thomas Awad does this weekend. He’s had this weekend circled on his calendar for a while now, and he may be able to dazzle us once again.


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