Lax loves lock-down defense
Freshmen Maxx Meyer and Brian Feeney have helped fortify the Quakers' back line
March 31, 2011, 3:11 am · Updated March 31, 2011, 12:00 am·
Defense never sells any tickets or shoots any commercials. It gets one chant that’s only one word. And for the defenders who picked the right sport, it means watching your fellow attackers grab all the attention.
Quakers fans, don’t sleep on Penn’s defense — these guys are good.
The 2011 version of the Red and Blue’s back line is among the strongest of the decade. In two of their signature wins — against No. 10 Duke and No. 11 Princeton — the Quakers have allowed only three goals, becoming the first Penn squad since 2001 to hold multiple opponents to three goals or fewer. Players were unaware of the feat, but not surprised.
“[I] knew we were going to have a good defense this year,” junior Will Koshansky said. “We added some good freshmen and kept a lot of good [players].”
You don’t have to look too hard to see why this defense is successful. They don’t have a 300-page book filled with different schemes, they just “fly.”
“Guys are confident to fly to the ball, everyone knows they’ve got six other guys protecting them,” Koshansky said.
Coach Mike Murphy explained the general scheme, calling it “a man-to-man package.”
“It’s all about guys doing what they’re supposed to do possession in, possession out.”
Freshman defenseman Maxx Meyer added, “We get great scouting reports, and we execute.”
Meyer is one of the pivotal new additions to the Quakers defense. Ranked No. 5 overall freshman by Inside Lacrosse, the rookie hasn’t disappointed, quickly cracking the starting lineup and earning Ivy Player of the Week honors following the Princeton win.
“We’re not treated like freshmen, [the other starters] trust us,” he said. “They [always] ask us what we’re seeing.”
Koshansky praised Meyer’s vocal leadership,
“[He’s] in the right spot and helps [teammates] get through the play,” the junior said.
Another impact freshman on defense, Brian Feeney, has allowed a seamless adjustment between goaltenders, helping call out defensive assignments. Feeney currently ranks No. 14 in the NCAA in goals-against average.
“We just push guys to the right place on the field and let Brian make the save,” Koharksy said.
“It’s been great to see both of them rise to the occasion,” Murphy added.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this unit is its penalty kill. The Red and Blue have been at their best when down a man, holding opponents to a paltry 28.6 percent success rate.
“Guys have set aside their ego and really played within the structure of the defense,” Murphy noted.
The defense does have it’s share of tough days, though, including last Saturday when the Quakers allowed 13 goals to Cornell’s explosive offense in an overtime loss.
Murphy attributed the setback to a lack of consistency, stating, “We were doing all the same things, we just weren’t consistent throughout the match.”
But once they get it down pat, this combination of talent, execution and fight has the potential to become one special unit, recognition or not.