Penn faces No. 2 Syracuse tomorrow. The Quakers haven't beat the Orange since 1919. To say the Penn men's lacrosse team faces an uphill battle when it meets national powerhouse Syracuse on Saturday might just be the understatement of the year. Take into account the following: The Quakers-Orangemen rivalry dates back to 1918 with Syracuse winning 22 of the 24 previous meeting. Penn's last win came during the Wilson Administration and before the Black Sox threw the World Series -- the Red and Blue eked out a 2-1 victory in 1919. Syracuse is 8-1 and ranked No. 2 in the nation. The Quakers are 5-7 and have lost four of their last five. But despite the stacked odds, Penn still believes it has a good shot at beating the Orangemen. "If we limit our number of turnovers and the defense has a really solid game, we have a chance of winning," Penn co-captain Bill Fowler said. "They have an awesome offense, so we can't allow any easy goals." For Penn, however, the season has been marked with uneven play. Perfect examples of this inconsistency are its past two contests against Villanova and Brown. Last Wednesday against Villanova, the Quakers suffered a heartbreaking double-overtime loss, 15-14. In that game, they took an early 6-3 lead, but a 9-2 Wildcats run put the Red and Blue back on the offensive. Junior Todd Minerley scored with 28 seconds left to tie the score at 14, but the Quakers couldn't hold the momentum and lost when Villanova's Eric Dauer put the ball past Penn goalie Ryan Kelly in the second extra-frame. The results weren't any better for the Quakers last Saturday in their final home and Ivy game of the season against Brown. Penn had control for much of the game but trailed by one at the end of the first half and by four at the end of the third quarter. The Quakers managed to tally four goals in the final frame, but they still came up short, losing 9-7. This kind of erratic play will knock the Quakers right out of the game on Saturday when they take on the Orangemen at neutral-site Princeton. Syracuse boasts one of the most powerful offenses in the country and has the statistics to prove it. The team is outshooting its opponents, 370-307, and is outscoring them, 130-76. That means the Orangemen are beating their opponents by six goals per game. As far as faceoffs, another important offensive category, go Syracuse is winning seven more than their opponents per game. Behind their impressive stats are some very talented players. All-American Ryan Powell leads the team in both goals with 27 and assists with 28, which is good for 55 points. Sophomore Michael Springer has tallied 25 goals thus far this season with 10 assists, and sophomore Liam Banks has 18 goals and 25 assists. "On defense, we're not doing anything different," Fowler said. "We're just going to have to play a tough zone." The Orangemen defense is just as talented as their offense. Seniors Marshall Abrams and Joe Ceglia lead the backline and Abrams is known as one of the best stickhandlers in the country. Penn's defense -- and offense -- will not only have to be better than it has been all season in order to beat Syracuse, but also better than when these two teams met up last year. In that contest, held in Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, the Orangemen beat the Quakers soundly, 16-7. Like this season, the Quakers' play was topsy-turvy throughout the game. The two teams ended the first quarter 1-1, but Syracuse went on a 11-1 run in the two middle periods and never looked back from there. Highlights for the Quakers were few, but co-captain Peter Janney did net one goal and record two assists. From the record and the ranking, the Orangemen are arguably even better this year, although they are 1-1 in their last two games. The 'Cuse is coming off a 16-8 win against Rutgers, but coach John Desko's squad lost its undefeated record and its No. 1 ranking on April 11 against Cornell after the upstart Big Red surprised the Orange, 13-12. Syracuse had retained the top-team status since their first game of the season when they beat Virginia. With the loss to the Big Red though, they dropped to No 2. While a Penn win would be huge for a team that has had a disappointing season, the Quakers know that a victory would not change what has happened in 2000. "As far as winning, it would be great as something to look back on, beating the No. 2 team in the country," Fowler said. "But, it's definitely not something that's going to save the season. The Ivies were the most important, and we don't have any more of those games."Comments powered by Disqus
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