Alyssa Kress | With streak over, weight of history lifted from Quakers
October 30, 2011, 11:02 pm · Updated October 31, 2011, 1:51 pm·
Katie Rubin | DP
PROVIDENCE, R.I., — Sitting in the Franklin Field stands during Week One of this football season, I knew things were different.
A humiliating 25-point loss to Lafayette not only significantly reduced the chances that many freshmen would return to the Frank this year, but it also changed the dynamic surrounding the team.
The hyped-up expectations many had of this season were suddenly called into question the minute things went downhill.
After a 6-0 loss to Brown on Saturday that ended an 18-game Ivy League winning streak, it was clear: this team was not made to go undefeated in league play for the third straight year.
The fourth-quarter luck that the Quakers had been riding ran out.
Sure, you can blame the weather, but Brown played in the same conditions and found a way to win.
Though the Bears didn’t focus on ending Penn’s winning streak, they knew that they were facing a different team than in years past, one that was not invincible.
“My big thing was, we’re not playing last year’s [Penn] team and they’re not playing last year’s [Brown] team,” Brown coach Phil Estes said. “There were two different teams playing today, and we just made it about today.”
The loss is surely disappointing for the players and coaches, but maybe more so for the fans who had such high hopes for this season. Many feel the history-making season has come to an end.
Yes, the streak was historic and it would have been incredible to watch the Quakers try to beat their own record of 20 consecutive Ivy wins. But the team’s fate isn’t sealed.
Penn remains tied for second in the standings with Brown and Yale, while Harvard sits in first. Penn should win its two home games against Princeton and Cornell, meaning the showdown in Cambridge on Nov. 12 will probably decide whether Penn will get a share of this year’s title.
But it’s easier said than done. Getting a win at Harvard will be the biggest challenge the Quakers will face in the league this season.
Now that the Ivy streak has ended, the extra pressure that surrounded it is gone, and the Quakers can focus solely on winning and not on maintaining a record-breaking streak.
“Eventually it was going to have to end,” coach Al Bagnoli said. “There is a lot of pressure on you to maintain that. People who tell you otherwise are lying. Even when we don’t talk about it, it’s in the back of everyone’s mind.”
Don’t get me wrong — the pressure is still there. Penn fans have grown accustomed to winning, and their expectations will not change.
But now that the streak is over, the team doesn’t have to live in the shadow of its predecessors.
Many of the current players were on the past two championship teams. As a whole, though, this team is young and less experienced and must create its own identity.
These younger Quakers, just like this team as a whole, are different, but they can still be a part of history by winning their third-consecutive Ivy title.
ALYSSA KRESS is a junior communication major from Abington, Pa., and is former Assistant Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. She can be contacted at dpsports@theDP.com.