After 1-12 season, penn starts from scratch A mere 12 months ago, the world of Penn women's lacrosse was in utter disarray. The members of the team petitioned for the removal of longtime coach Anne Sage, saying they would no longer play for her. Leading scorer Brooke Jenkins tore her ACL. And even though she came back to play through the pain, the Quakers skidded to a 1-12 record, the worst in team history. As the Quakers enter the 2000 season, it is almost as if the past never even happened. Karin Brower took over the reins of the Red and Blue over the summer, and a corps of 12 freshman -- who outnumber Penn's returning players -- arrived on campus in the fall. And among the returning players, many -- like senior tri-captain Lee Ann Sechovicz -- are finding new roles on the field. Sechovicz, who played midfield last year, has dropped back to defense. "We're pretty much starting from scratch at midfield, defense and attack," Brower said. "Everywhere." Penn will have talent on the field, but the Quakers do lack experience. And injuries have already taken their toll with the experienced players they do have. Jenkins, who is recovering from another ACL injury incurred during the field hockey season, will be pretty much a stay-home attacker, staying away from midfield duties. Her fellow senior tri-captain, Bethany Stafford, has decided not to play this season due to knee problems. Knee problems have also taken their toll on Jenny Hartman, an eight-goal scorer in her freshman season last year. Hartman will miss the season's first two to four weeks, starting with this weekend's scrimmages at William and Mary. Penn did not scrimmage last year, and this year it will play 14 games in addition to this weekend's scrimmages and an additional scrimmage on March 11 with Lehigh. The Quakers' opener is on March 14 at American, and their Ivy opener is four days later at Yale. A year ago, Penn's first Ivy game was also against Yale. But that was also the Quakers' season opener, while the Elis had already played two games. As its offense was already clicking, Yale outshot the Quakers 40-12 and won the game 11-5. This year, opening at American will almost certainly be helpful to the skilled-but-inexperienced Quakers. "I don't think that we have a weak link at all," Brower said. "It's just that we lack experience. That's going to be the biggest factor for us this year." But playing an extra game at the beginning of the year probably won't turn the Quakers into instant worldbeaters, nor will Brower's different coaching style. The situation at Franklin Field is not like the ones that greeted Andy Nelson or Kelly Greenberg when they walked into the Penn women's soccer and basketball teams, respectively, in their first seasons this year. Those teams simply needed a push in the right direction. Brower's team has lacked depth and still does -- the Quakers do not have enough players to scrimmage against themselves. Their goal is not necessarily to contend for a league title immediately, but to be competitive from beginning to end. "My expectations for the team are a winning season, I hope," freshman Kate Murray said. That will be hard enough, at least as far as the Ivy League is concerned. Dartmouth returns all three of its first team All-Ivy players from last year's league championship team. Princeton is always a force to be reckoned with, while Yale -- which finished third in the Ivies in 1999 -- will feature last season's top Ivy freshman, attacker Amanda Walton. This season, Penn can expect to see quite a bit from its newcomers. "We're going to have a lot of freshmen start, and they'll play a lot of time," Brower said. "They're a great group -- working very hard." One thing that is striking with Penn's freshmen is their explosive speed, something that was definitely lacking from last season's squad. "I'd say we have upperclassmen that have some speed but more of an endurance speed," Brower said. "The freshmen have more of a strength speed right off the step. Whitney [Horton], Jayme [Munnelly] and Kate [Murray] are extremely fast. Christy [Bennett] is quick." The Quakers may have been lucky to get such a crop of newcomers. All of the freshmen agreed to come to Penn before the coaching situation was resolved -- an uncertain prospect to say the least. "I had a good trip here, and I tried to leave some of the lacrosse stuff out of [the decision]," Horton said. "I knew when I decided that the old coach was gone. Actually, it really did [concern me]. I took a lot of uncertainty until a little while into the fall." Now, though, the Quakers are confident and ready for the season. It is hard to say just how they will do, but one thing is for sure -- there is nowhere to go but up.Comments powered by Disqus
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