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Women's lacrosse against Towson Credit: Pat Goodridge , Pat Goodridge

How can Penn women’s lacrosse continue to push the envelope and improve as a program when the eight-time reigning Ivy League champions have seen such exorbitant success in the last decade?

For senior attack Tory Bensen, the answer is one which many comedic film series turn to: getting more offensive.

“For the past four years that I’ve been here, our attack has been our weak point,” she said. “And that makes us mad. We want to be a powerhouse.”

Don’t take that the wrong way. There’s nothing offensive about Bensen off the field — she is consistently friendly and approachable without being aggressive when discussing her sport. However, on the field, she is an absolute killer.

“When you’re on the field, Tory knows that people can’t stop here,” junior Nina Corcoran said. “And she takes advantage of that.”

Bensen was solid in her first few years with the Quakers, persevering through a season-ending ACL tear in 2012 to remain a consistent presence on the team’s attack. But it wasn’t until the 2014 campaign that she sent her production into the stratosphere.

“She started off as a little more of a perfectionist,” coach Karin Corbett said of her senior star. “I think last year she realized what a great attacker she is, what a great shooter she is, and for us to really win, we need her to perform.”

In her 2014 campaign, the Darien, Conn., native led the team in both goals (43) and points (55), nearly doubling her output from any other season and earning her second-team All-Ivy honors.

Perhaps most impressive was her play in the postseason. She was dominant throughout the Ivy League Tournament, notching a double-overtime game-winner against Harvard in the semifinals and earning Tournament MVP. She continued that strong play with a hat trick in what would ultimately be Penn’s last game of the season against Maryland.

Some things have changed since last season. Bensen no longer takes anyone by surprise — she is the player that other teams spend the most time planning for on Penn’s attack.

A fifth-year senior, Bensen has also had to step up as a leader — both on and off the field — for the Quakers throughout 2015.

“This year, the big thing has been taking ownership of the entire offense and shepherding along some of the younger players,” she said.

But some things simply haven’t changed from last year, and that’s a good thing. Bensen has already notched an impressive 31 goals this season, and with six regular season games remaining, it is very realistic that she could eclipse her scoring totals from last year despite increased defensive attention.

Bensen’s outstanding play has contributed greatly to what can be considered a milestone year for the team’s attack, which has been one of the most consistent and dynamic to grace Franklin Field in the past decade. The Quakers have scored at least nine goals in all of their games this season, save for their hard-fought loss to No. 1 Maryland, in which they still scored seven.

Penn has been considered a defensive stalwart for years now, and with preseason All-American Meg Markham, that won’t change this season. However, the Quakers’ offensive efficacy is the result of a new team dynamic. Bensen admirably serves as the team’s top threat, while juniors Corcoran and Iris Williamson keep teams on their toes by providing additional support.

“I think Tory makes it easy for me,” Corcoran said. “She’s an awesome cutter.”

This dynamic was on display for the Red and Blue on Saturday when they defeated Towson, 12-5. Three players, including Bensen, notched at least three goals, while Corcoran recorded three assists of her own.

“We have a lot more threats on attack, playing at a faster pace,” Corbett said, “and they’re creating a lot of havoc on the opposing defenses.”

It seems that through years of hard work, Penn has finally started to change its image as a defense-heavy program, and Bensen is at the heart of this change. But despite all of her success and accolades, there is still one thing in particular that remains on Bensen’s mind.

“It’s just the culture of this team [to] never to get complacent and never to stop working in practice,” Bensen said. “There’s always something bigger to strive for ... the national championship.”

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