The No. 12 Quakers will travel to face Bucknell, yale and North Carolina. The Penn men's lacrosse team won't be going anywhere exotic for spring break. Unless you consider Baltimore, Chapel Hill, N.C., or New Haven, Conn., exotic, that is. "Over the next two months or so, we'll be playing two to three games a week, which means that we need to be sharp on a consistent basis," Penn coach Marc Van Arsdale said. The Quakers (1-0) will play three games in an eight-day span over spring break. After they face Bucknell on Saturday, they will play North Carolina Tuesday and then take on Yale in their first Ivy contest of the year on March 18. The Red and Blue hope that last Saturday's comeback win over Notre Dame and the No. 12 national ranking that came with it can propel them to success this week. "That game certainly gave everybody the energy for the week," Van Arsdale said. "But you do want to put that behind you, and five days ago really seems like ancient history because we just want to keep getting better as we have been through the preseason." Penn will have its first chance at continued improvement this Saturday against the Bison, a strong defensive team that the Quakers came from behind to beat last year, 11-8. "[The Bison are] a very strong defensive group," Van Arsdale said. "They make you work hard for a lot of your goals." Van Arsdale believes that a victory over Bucknell, along with the Quakers' win over the more offensive-minded Notre Dame, would provide a nice contrast in preparing his team for well-balanced North Carolina, the No. 8 team in the country. After upsetting an unsuspecting group of Tar Heels last year, the Quakers have something besides the UNC balanced attack to worry about -- the revenge factor. "That win was highly unexpected from a lot of different angles," Van Arsdale said. "Certainly, we're not going to be able to sneak up on anybody down there this year." While Van Arsdale recognized that the Tar Heels (2-0), were "back where they want to be" this season, he believes that if the Quakers could keep improving, they could come out with yet another win in Chapel Hill. "Carolina puts the whole thing together, and their makeup is not that much different than ours," Van Arsdale said. "But I think, if we can come through this Bucknell game OK, that we could be well-suited to match up with them." After the matchup of two nationally ranked teams, the Quakers will head back to Philadelphia for a few days before traveling to Yale for their Ivy opener. The Quakers beat the Elis last season in a very low-scoring 7-2 battle. However, with the graduation of Yale's goaltender and 1999 Player of the Year, Joe Pilch, the Quakers could conceivably put a few more in the back of the Elis nets this time. "The Ivy game will hopefully have a little excitement and energy to it," Van Arsdale said. "Yale traditionally plays very good 'D' -- just look at the score from last year." The Quakers will, in all likelihood, be fired up for their first league showdown of the season, but traveling up and down a good chunk of the Eastern Seaboard in a week might have adverse effects on the team's endurance. "[The trip] does mean a lot of different beds on a lot of different nights, but I hope that we'll have our legs under us against Yale. And the Ivy game should bring out our intensity," Van Arsdale said. Like the Elis, the Quakers also lost a four-year starter in goal to graduation in Matt Schroeder, and have been trying out both sophomore John Carroll and freshman Ryan Kelly in the preseason. Due in part to his performance against Notre Dame, Carroll has retained the starting role for the upcoming games. "His performance Saturday, particularly early in the game, really kept us in it," Van Arsdale said. "We'd love to see John continue that type of play. I think he's earned the start. Should something happen to John, though, we'd be perfectly comfortable with Ryan Kelly back there." For a team with two inexperienced goalies, 10 days off to focus solely on lacrosse is certainly a blessing. But, according to Van Arsdale, it's not all business. "The break is typically a lot of college basketball, and sleep and some lacrosse mixed in," he said.Comments powered by Disqus
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