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Haiku Corner | September 18

Welcome back to Haiku Corner, a place where Penn Athletics' upcoming weekend is summarized three lines at a time.

Flight to Florida

Bagnoli ready to go

Eyes on Torgersen

American goal

Sets Quakers back a little

Temple is up next

Forget loss to Tribe

Penn has many injuries

Sawczuk plays near home

Ivy play begins now

Penn looks to its strong attack

Weisenfels keeps on

Wagner's season starts

McCurdy and Beamish lead

Mansfield on live stream

Back from Golden State

Red and Blue morale quite high

Big 5 comes to Penn



Which position group has the most to prove this year?

While Penn has a strong set of captains (just look at the front cover) to lead the team in 2014, there are plenty of players and position groups with something to prove. Across offense, defense and special teams, the Quakers will look to shore up a few spots in order to compete with an Ivy title. After all, if any part of Penn’s team appears to be weak, the rest of the Ivy League will look to exploit said weakness. Our editors debate which position group has the most to prove.

Sports Editor Ian Wenik: I’m going to come out and say that the secondary has plenty to prove. Last year, I wrote a story for our supplement talking about how a plethora of veterans in the defensive backfield was going to shut down the rest of the Ivy League. What did Penn’s pass defense promptly do? It surrendered 240.7 yards per game, a middling fifth-best in the conference. The Quakers let their opponents complete 62.7 percent of their passes, the third-worst mark in the Ancient Eight.

Penn has plenty of talent returning in its secondary — fifth-year seniors Dan Wilk and Evan Jackson, just to name a few — but it’s a long way back to the top for a secondary that helped Penn win an Ivy title just two years ago.

Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings: It’s tough to say anybody but the kickers. Special teams can be a thankless job and fall under the radar, but it is extremely important to any team’s success. In 2012, it seemed like whenever Penn needed a clutch kick, then-sophomore Connor Loftus was there to make it, especially during the Quakers’ 20-17 homecoming win against Brown.

But last season was different as the Red and Blue went 4-for-13 on field goals, setting themselves back in multiple games. While junior Jimmy Gammill has impressed during camp, we will have to see whether he can get the job done within games. If he struggles or gets hurt again, Loftus or sophomore Aron Morgan could get a few reps at the all-important placekicker spot.

Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: I think a young and inexperienced offensive line is going to have the most to prove. The Quakers are fielding a group with a combined five starts between them last season, and they graduated a core group of veteran linemen, including first-team All-Ivy center Chris Bush.

Though Penn had a strong offensive performance last season against Cornell — when three of this year’s projected starters made starts — this group is definitely one of the largest question marks for coach Al Bagnoli. Bagnoli even said so during the Ivy League preseason media teleconference. Every strong offensive performance starts in the trenches, and if this group can’t find a way to protect sophomore quarterback Alek Torgersen, it’ll be a long season for the Quakers.

Sports Editor Colin Henderson: I couldn’t agree more, Holden. The offensive line is a serious question mark. But what about the man that they will be tasked with protecting?

Torgersen has approximately one quarter’s worth of play under his belt. Lighting up Cornell in a relief role at the end of a season is one thing, but taking the reigns of Penn’s offense is quite another. Granted, he seems to bring a downfield passing threat that, paired with Penn’s deep squad of receivers, could be deadly, but with an inexperienced line in front of him, can he handle the pressure?

He certainly doesn’t have the type of mobility that Billy Ragone had, which could make Penn’s questions on the line even more significant. Ragone also set a pretty high mark for Penn quarterbacks, contributing to three Ivy League championship teams. We’ll see if Torgersen can live up to those types of expectations and have a similar level of success.



Turn Back the Clock | Penn football's successful trip to San Diego

Then-junior Sam Mathews had a career day when Penn football visited San Diego in 2004, scoring three touchdowns and rushing for over 100 yards.

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Penn football will leave the friendly confines of the Northeast for the first time in 10 years, heading to the humid metropolis of Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday.

The last time the Quakers ventured out of the Northeast was 10 years ago, a trip that was extremely successful to say the least.

To kick off the 2004 season, the Red and Blue faced off against San Diego, making a cross country flight before taking the field. Penn came in with a 16-game winning streak dating back to 2002, as the squad was two-time defending Ivy League champions.

The Toreros had a former NFL quarterback as their first-year head coach with Jim Harbaugh – now the coach of the San Francisco 49ers – patrolling the sidelines. But his NFL background wouldn’t be any help that day as Penn trounced San Diego, 61-18.

Sixty-one points scored was Penn’s most points in a game since joining the Ivy League in 1956, and the most points allowed by San Diego in a game since 1956 as well. The Quakers’ devastating attack was led by then-junior running back Sam Mathews, who scored a career-high three touchdowns and added 152 total yards.

“He was terrific,” Penn coach Al Bagnoli said of Mathews. “He is definitely one of the marquee players in our league, and I think you can see why if you watch him. He does everything for us.”

Mathews wasn’t the only Red and Blue running back to reach the century mark, as Duke transfer Von Bryant had 111 yards on just five carries. Penn ended the day with 325 yards on the ground and 494 yards overall in a shocking offensive display.

Surprisingly enough, San Diego led in time of possession despite a 26-0 deficit at halftime. The Toreros’ four turnovers and inability to stop Penn’s ground game ultimately did them in.

“They’re a physically overpowering force, and they could stop the run,” Harbaugh said of Penn.

Under Bagnoli, Penn has recruited many players from the California area, so the trip was particularly nice for those players returning home.

“We’ve got a lot of players from California and they were really excited to play in front of their people who usually have to travel all the way out from California,” Mathews said.

Penn would have its 17-game winning streak snapped a week later by local rival Villanova. The Quakers would also not be able to repeat atop the Ancient Eight, as future NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Harvard would hand them their only Ivy loss.

On the other side of the ball, Harbaugh had a bright future in sunny San Diego. His Toreros would win their final five games of the year before back-to-back 11-1 seasons in 2005 and 2006.

Harbaugh would parlay those results into the head coaching job at Stanford, where he worked until joining the 49ers.



Mano a Mano: Who is Penn's top Ivy threat?

-The Daily Pennsylvanian

Penn football is getting its season started this weekend on Saturday in a nonconference tilt against Jacksonville, but some of us are already looking ahead to Ivy play. Sports Editors Ian Wenik and Holden McGinnis debate which Ancient Eight rival poses the biggest threat to the Quakers this year.

Sports Editor Ian Wenik: This is an easy one. It’s Princeton. The Tigers dealt the death blow to the Quakers last year when they came back from a 16-0 deficit to win on Homecoming, 38-26, and they’re just as much of a threat this time around. Sure, defensive tackle Caraun Reid is in the NFL now, but Princeton returns players like two-time first-team All-Ivy selection Anthony Gaffney at corner and 2013 second-team All-Ivy selection Mike Zeuli at linebacker. Their defense won’t miss a beat.

Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: While we’re on the topic of experienced defenses, how about Harvard? Princeton came away with the win against Harvard, 51-48, in three overtimes, but the Crimson pose just as serious a threat. While Harvard graduated a number of All-Ivy players in one of its strongest senior classes in recent memory, they still return dynamic players up and down their roster.

Senior defensive lineman Zach Hodges will pose an even more serious threat to the aforementioned inexperienced offensive line of the Quakers. Meanwhile, the secondary is anchored by senior defensive back Norman Hayes, Harvard’s sole captain. The Crimson still have a strong offense, led by senior quarterback Conner Hempel and junior running back Paul Stanton. Barring injury, they’ll pose serious issues for the Quakers in all phases of the game.

IW: I think that the Tigers have a thing or two to say about offensive firepower. Quinn Epperly is still Princeton’s quarterback, and who could forget his NCAA record-setting performance against Cornell, when he completed 29 passes in a row? Epperly fully deserved to be named Ivy Offensive Player of the Year last season. My only concern is that he’s lost his favorite target, wide receiver Roman Wilson, to graduation. Who will take his place? It might be one of the Tigers’ two main senior wideouts — Seth DeValve or Matt Costello.

Making matters easier for Epperly is that he has running back DiAndre Atwater in the backfield once again — Atwater averaged a solid 4.7 yards per carry last year. Outside of the question mark of No. 1 receiver, I don’t really see a major hole in Princeton’s depth chart. Do you see any weakness in Harvard?

HM: For Harvard, it’s a pretty similar situation in terms of weakness. The Crimson lost their top two receiving targets in wide receiver Ricky Zorn and tight end Cameron Brate. However, they retain most of their other offensive weapons, primarily Stanton and junior wide receiver Andrew Fischer. Hempel has plenty of weapons for his senior campaign and should be able to put up similar numbers to their third-best passing offense last season.

Verdict: It’s a draw as both are daunting competitors to the Red and Blue.



Haiku Corner: September 11

You missed Haiku Corner, didn't you? The Buzz's signature poetry feature returns, previewing a fun weekend in Penn Athletics

Quakers head out west

Shake memory of Blue Hens

Face number one Stanford

Soccer in Seattle

Poplawski and Schott come home

Try to keep winning

Playing to a draw

Chevtchenko finds back of net

Next up is the Tribe

Fairfield comes to Penn

Quakers showing some true grit

Weisenfels in goal

Start of the season

Cross country takes on Big 5

Villanova top test

Jacksonville is near

King and co. quite excited

Freshmen ready as well



Penn women's soccer to play at 6 PM due to inclement weather

For anyone in the University City area, Penn women's soccer's match tonight against St. Francis has been moved up to 6 PM due to inclement weather in the area later tonight. 

The game was originally scheduled for 7 PM. Penn comes into the match with a 2-0 record after two close wins last weekend. The match will be played at Rhodes Field and will be available on the Ivy League Digital Network. 

The Quakers play on Sunday as well at 2:30 against William & Mary, also at Rhodes Field.

Here is our preview of Penn's weekend matches.



Three Up, Three Down | Penn women's soccer vs. St. Francis (Pa.)

Sophomore midfielder Lindsey Sawczuk scored her first goal of 2014 against Old Dominion last weekend and added an assist on a Ana Chevtchenko goal on Thursday night vs. St. Francis (Pa.).

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Following an opening weekend in which Penn women’s soccer won two matches, the Quakers (2-0) will look to keep up the good vibes in their home matches against St. Francis (Pa.) tonight and William & Mary on Sunday. Going against the winless Red Flash, the Red and Blue will be heavily favored to win their third straight match to start the season. Here are some of the reasons why this is the case, and a few reasons why Penn needs to be careful not to slip up.

Three Up

Clutch play: To start last season, the Red and Blue notched two 4-0 wins, kick-starting a run that would eventually lead Penn to a 12-1-4 overall record. The road to start this campaign has not been an easy one, with Penn winning both games it has played by only one-goal margins. It took the Quakers overtime to win their last match against Old Dominion courtesy of a goal by freshman Kristen Miller. While they may not have shown dominance yet, this early experience should bode well for the Quakers if it is a close match against St. Francis.

Penn’s defense: When you think of Penn women’s soccer, you should think of defense. Last year, the Quakers featured one of the top statistical backlines in the country. With several difference makers — like back Haley Cooper and keeper Kalijah Terilli — returning, the same should be the case this year. They may have given up an uncharacteristic two goals in their last match, but the Quakers’ defense should stand tall tonight.

Winless opponent: St. Francis is currently 0-6 on the year, not including an exhibition contest it also lost. The Red Flash have been shut out in four of their six matches. To boot, they have been outscored by a combined total of 14 goals. Not to rub it in, but it hasn’t been pretty. This should be a golden opportunity to pick up an early season win.

Three Down

Penn’s scoring: Offense was the Quakers’ Achilles’ heel last season, and it looks like that may be the case once again this year. Despite winning both of their matches, the Quakers have only been able to produce two goal scorers in regular time thus far. Penn will look to its young players — like sophomore Lindsey Sawczuk, who notched a key score against Old Dominion — to provide a spark offensively moving forward.

Conditioning: Penn has played significantly less competitive soccer than St. Francis has to start the season. This will be the team’s third match in five days, with the last having gone into overtime, and the first significant test of its overall conditioning. It will be interesting to see if the Red and Blue have the legs to fight through the fatigue.

NCAA implications: Despite putting up a very strong overall record and impressive team statistics last season, the Quakers were snubbed from last year’s NCAA tournament. This year, they won’t want to take any chances, and a loss to a winless team would not look good on their resume moving forward.



Penn women's hoops 2014-15 schedule released

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After releasing the key opening game of its 2014–15 schedule midway through the summer, Penn women’s basketball released the rest of its slate Tuesday afternoon. And rather unsurprisingly, it’s fairly similar to last year.

The nonconference schedule features plenty of familiar faces, as the Quakers will go up against the Big Five — against whom they finished 2-2 last year — and local rival Drexel once again. The toughest of those matchups will likely be St. Joe’s, who finished 23-10 on the season and earned a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Red and Blue had one of their most impressive seasons in Big Five play last season, with their only two losses coming by a combined 10 points. Penn’s win over La Salle was its first at Tom Gola Arena since 1973-74.

In addition to the usual lineup of Philadelphia schools, Penn will face off against UMBC, New Hampshire and Hampton — a fellow 12-seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament — in the Palestra. The game against Hampton will provide the Quakers with a strong nonconference test in early December.

Penn also added Navy and Lafayette as road games for the season.

With three NCAA Tournament foes and a handful of programs that played in the WNIT, the Quakers now have nine games against teams that played in the postseason last year.

The Ivy slate begins and ends with double-headers with the men’s team against Princeton, starting with a Jan. 10 trip to New Jersey.

If this season plays out at all like last year, the season-ending matchup against Princeton at the Palestra will hold plenty of weight in the Ivy League standings. For those who have somehow already forgotten, last year saw Penn travel to Princeton for a de facto Ivy League championship game, which the Quakers won.

Bookended by two exciting games and filled with some interesting nonconference matchups, the schedule for Penn women’s basketball will provide the challenges necessary to prepare the team for the late season push in their Ivy title defense.



Roundtable: Underclassmen to watch out for

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With the opening weekend come and gone, a number of freshmen had the chance to show why they were so heavily recruited by the Quakers. With the rest of the fall season in mind, these freshmen figure to have some of the largest impacts on the outcomes of their respective teams.

Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: While the performance of freshman midfielder Austin Kuhn earned him Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors this past weekend, the men’s soccer freshman who stood out to me on the pitch was back Luka Martinovic. The Bayville, N.Y. native earned the start in both matches this weekend and provided solid defensive play from the back line.

Though he only tallied one assist on the weekend, Martinovic was involved in creating a number of opportunities for the Quakers on the attack and should prove to be a key cog moving forward. As Penn works out the opening weekend kinks on defense, the freshman appears to clearly be part of the solution.

Sports Editor Ian Wenik: Since you’ve set me up so nicely, I’m going to shout out a freshman attacker on a different sport. How about Alexa Hoover on field hockey? I watched her at both of Penn’s games last weekend, and she was one of the most energetic players on the field. Against Lehigh on Friday, she scored a hat trick and added an assist for good measure. That last goal, by the way, was a particularly impressive display of athleticism. Hoover batted down a high pass with her stick and then performed the field hockey equivalent of a one-touch goal in soccer.

Sure, last year’s freshman star Jasmine Cole is gone, but if Hoover can keep up her scoring touch, the Quakers should be just fine.

Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings: There are a lot of underclassmen who have already made impacts in their respective sports — freshman middle block Kendall Covington on Penn volleyball for example. But I’m going to focus on a freshman that has yet to make an impact, and that’s wide receiver Justin Watson for Penn football.

Looking at the talent that the Red and Blue has returning at the skill positions, it is surprising that a first-year player could crack the lineup. Freshmen don’t usually find much playing time for coach Al Bagnoli anyway, but when you have Conner Scott, Ty Taylor, Spencer Kulcsar and Cam Countryman returning, it’s tough to imagine anyone cracking the lineup.

Yet Bagnoli told The Daily Pennsylvanian that Watson is part of the first group of receivers that will take the field. Watson played high school football in western Pennsylvania, earning all-state and all-conference recognition in his senior season. For him to make it into the rotation his first season, he has some clear talent that he is ready to show off.



The Ivy League football national television schedule released

On Tuesday, the Ivy League released the national broadcast schedule for its football games this fall.

Penn will appear in three of the 13 national broadcasts. Penn's Oct. 4 matchup with Dartmouth will appear on Fox College Sports while the Quakers visits to Yale on Oct. 25 and Princeton on Nov. 8 will be on NBC Sports Network. 

Al Bagnoli's final game as Penn's head coach will not be on national TV as NBCSN will broadcast Harvard-Yale and Fox College Sports will show Columbia at Brown that weekend. 

Here is the schedule if you want to take a look at the full thing.



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