After a solid 2016 season, Penn men’s lacrosse isn’t simply content to maintain its previous level of success; the team is aiming bigger with the 2017 season quickly approaching.
Last season, the team went 8-7 overall, with a 4-2 record in the conference and 4-5 record out-of-conference. While they lost to No. 1 ranked Yale (13-3, 5-1 Ivy) and No. 3 ranked Brown (16-3, 6-0), they had some big wins over other Ivy League rivals such as Princeton (5-8, 2-4) and Dartmouth (1-13, 0-6).
Sophomore Alex Roesner seemed positive about what the squad has achieved in the past, and he sees a lot of potential for his team in the upcoming 2017 season.
“I think we’ve grown a lot from last year to this year. The freshman class last year was a young attack and it was the first time getting out there and experiencing college play. After adjusting and getting close games under your belt, it will render us a lot more experienced and we will be a stronger team in closing games,” Roesner said, reflecting on the three one-goal losses the team had last season.
According to Roesner, experience is a large factor, and last year’s talented class of freshmen is ready to rise up and step into some big roles for this season. While four now sophomores in Alex Roesner, Simon Mathias, Tyler Dunn and Noah Lejman played on the USA U-19 team this past summer in Canada and were never in dire need of improvement, it was still important to have a season adapt to college lacrosse and its fast-paced, competitive nature.
“While in Canada I think they gained some valuable experience,” head coach Mike Murphy said. “They’ve all played a lot for us and I think our attack can be a strength for us if they keep working hard.”
One of these big shoes that the team has to fill are those of Nick Doktor who graduated last May. He produced tremendously on the attack line for the squad, ending his career fourth in Penn’s all-time assist list and seventh on Penn’s all-time point list.
“Nick was a great producer for us and a great communicator,” Roesner reflected. “He was our leader of the offense, so this year we are trying to make the offense more of a unite instead of running everything through one player.”
Murphy agreed that the front line will still be a major part of the team’s success, despite the huge loss of Doktor.
“I think we will be more balanced and we will have Simon and Alex back on attack and they have a pretty good grasp on how the offense works. 10 out of 12 offensive players from last year will be returning for us,” Murphy said.
Looking back at the 2016 season, now-sophomore goalkeeper Reed Junkin proved to be a big part of the team’s success as well. Starting and playing in all 15 games throughout the season with 170 saves, he earned co-Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors. This year, he is joined by freshman Alex DeMarco.
“We talked to them about getting better at the basics. Both are making high level saves but we want them making the fundamental saves consistently,” Murphy added.
Fundamentals are key to the season ahead. Simon Mathias, another USA U-19 member, stressed the importance of taking smaller steps instead of always envisioning the big picture as you work to achieve your goals.
“While in Canada [the team USA coaches] established a very elite culture. It’s not win 10 games or win an Ivy, it’s win as many games as you can get,” Mathias said.
As the Red and Blue head into a competitive but exciting season, they will be building off of the 2016 season’s successes and downfalls. With some of these talented and increasingly experienced athletes on the team, the squad could see one of their best seasons to date.