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The 2015-16 school year is about to get underway, and along with new students filling into Huntsman Hall and the Quad, a handful of rookies have a chance to make an immediate impact for Penn Athletics. Our editors debate which team’s freshman class has the most potential.

Sports Editor Colin Henderson: This is a no-brainer for me. It has to be men’s soccer.

Forget about the Ivy League; Coach Rudy Fuller — who has proven himself over the years to be something of an ace recruiter — may have hauled in one of the best freshman classes in the nation. According to, the Quaker Class of 2019 ranks 12th in the nation. To put that in perspective, no other Ivy squad broke the top 30 spots.

The class is highlighted by a bevy of young talent with experience playing at a high level. Three of the Red and Blue’s incoming freshmen — defenders Gavin Barger and Nigel Blackwood and goalkeeper Etan Mabourkah — spent time training with the U.S. Under-18 national squad last year.

The loss of forward Duke Lacroix will certainly loom large for the team throughout the year, but Fuller — as always — has fully reloaded for another potential title run.

Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: While Colin is looking at Penn’s most highly touted recruiting class, I think the other team at Rhodes Field will also take a huge step forward thanks to its freshman class.

After an up-and-down season that ended with the resignation of head coach Darren Ambrose, who took the head coaching job at Vanderbilt, the Quakers have brought in nine new players, eight freshmen and one transfer. New coach Nicole Van Dyke is looking to begin a “new era of Penn women’s soccer,” and this freshman class will be one of the building blocks for that new era.

Last year’s team put together a strong closing stretch to its Ivy League season, pulling out two wins and a tie in its final three games to pull into a tie for third place. With seven returning starters, including three All-Ivy honorees, a strong freshman class could be just what the Quakers need to build up to an Ivy League title in the next few years.

Sports Editor Laine Higgins: Penn field hockey’s Class of 2019 perhaps has not only the most potential of any incoming class of athletes but also the most pressure. For the past two years, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year has hailed from Penn, with Jasmine Cole capturing the award in 2013 and Alexa Hoover earning the honor in 2014.

If coach Colleen Fink hopes to continue this trend, she’ll have to look to one of her six incoming players. Perhaps the most likely successor in the Quakers’ lineage of talent is Rachel Mirkin of Winnetka, Ill. While playing for New Trier High School, the freshman racked up 31 goals, 19 assists, a state championship and team MVP honors.

Another impressive newcomer is goalie Reina Kern of Princeton, N.J. In her four years playing for The Hun School of Princeton, Kern tallied 826 saves and an N.J. Prep ‘A’ All-Star team nod for each season.

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