Two weeks ago, Penn men’s lacrosse had its collective back against the wall.
Off to a 0-3 conference start, the Quakers knew they’d have to win out to have any hope of an Ivy League Tournament appearance.
This Saturday — after consecutive wins against then-No. 10 Brown and Harvard — Penn (5-6, 2-3 Ivy) has the chance to sneak into the postseason with a win over Dartmouth.
“Right after the game against Yale, I said, ‘Listen, now it’s must win, if you guys lose another game, there’s almost no chance of us making the postseason. If you can’t handle that pressure, let me know and we won’t put you on the field, but I think you can,’” coach Mike Murphy said. “They responded.”
With many games left to play in the league — most teams have only played four conference games — the conference tournament spots are still entirely undecided. It’s hard to say precisely how the final standings will turn out, but a win over the Big Green (4-6, 1-3) would put Penn in good standing going into the season’s final weekend.
The Quakers currently sit in fifth overall in the Ivy League and will need to finish in the top four to play in the postseason tournament.
Saturday’s game will also mark the team’s Senior Day and final home game of the season. The Quakers will honor a strong class of seniors before the game, including leading goal scorer Joe McCallion and Senior CLASS award nominee Matt McMahon.
“I’ve met a bunch of guys in my four years that I’m proud to call my brothers,” McCallion said.
“This is the closest group of guys I’ve ever been around, we basically do everything together 24 hours a day. It’s everything to me.”
For the seniors, it’s the final home game of their careers, as well as a chance to potentially extend their final season. The senior class has seen the ups-and-downs of the program as the team finished 3-10 their freshman year before winning the Ivy League title last season.
Regardless of performance on the field, Murphy believes the class has provided the team leadership in all facets.
“They’ve meant a tremendous amount. A class that size, with that much talent,” Murphy said.
“But the thing that’s the most impressive about them is the way they conduct themselves off the field. [They’re] tremendous students, great people out in the community, it’s an extremely impressive group of young men.”
However, to Murphy and the rest of the coaching staff, it’s just another game, albeit one with a bit of a postseason feel.
“This week is no different than last week, in that we have a good Ivy League opponent and we need to win. So there’s a certain level of urgency in everything we do, more so for the seniors than everyone else because their clock is ticking,” Murphy added.
“We’ve had a good week of practice, hopefully we put our best foot forward on Saturday.”
Regardless of their potential Ivy League Tournament appearance, the Quakers will face Virginia — the fifth place team in the ACC — as an extension of the ACC Tournament later in the season. But right now, the focus for the entire team is this weekend.
“Everything just sort of fell into place perfectly, it’s the most important game of my career. Senior year ... this is basically a postseason game,” McCallion said.
“If we win this, we have a good shot at getting into the postseason, if not it’s go home.”Comments powered by Disqus
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