Nothing beats the taste of sweet, sweet revenge.
This past weekend, Penn men’s lacrosse took a trip up to City Avenue to face off against local rival Saint Joesph’s in the season opener. After losing the penultimate game of their season to St. Joe’s last year by a single goal, the No. 19 Quakers were able to flip the script this year, defeating the Hawks 10-5.
The Red and Blue (1-0) got off to a hot start, getting their first six goals from six different players in the first 25 minutes of the game and outshooting St. Joe’s by a margin of 23-15 in the first half. The Quakers would go into halftime leading 7-1 after a masterful display of the balanced attack they are striving to implement this year.
The second half would be a bit of a different story. Penn seemed to lose some of its momentum on the offensive end, and the smooth-sailing attack hit some bumps coming out of the break.
“I think in some respects our guys were just trying not to lose the game rather than win the game,” coach Mike Murphy said. “We talk to them all the time about playing the second half, whether we’re leading or behind, as if it’s a 0-0 game. We had a couple turnovers, shot the ball at the goalie’s feet a couple of times, so I’d like to see us be able to handle first half success better, but we’re still young down there and I think we’re still trying to figure some things out with guys in new spots.”
Fortunately for the Quakers, the drop in production at one end of the field went relatively unpunished. The Penn defense, led by seniors Kevin Gayhardt, Kevin McDonough and Eric Persky, held the St. Joe’s offense to just four goals in the second half while killing off both of the Hawks’ extra-man opportunities. Sophomore goalie Reed Junkin had a stellar performance for the Red and Blue, making 15 saves on the day.
Sophomores Alex Roesner, Tyler Dunn and Simon Mathias all had multi-point days for the Quakers, with Roesner recording a hat trick while Dunn added two goals and Mathias tallying a goal and two assists. Juniors Reilly Hupfeldt and James Farrell had two goals and two assists respectively, while their classmate, long-stick midfielder Connor Keating, revealed his scoring touch again by adding a goal for himself. Senior Austin Kreinz’s goal completed the scoresheet for the Quakers.
Although it’s only the first game of the season, the game was an important one to win for the Quakers; not only did they want to avenge their loss from last season, but they also know that they want to try to establish themselves as the premier program in the Philly area.
“We recruit here so heavily and so do they, so both teams have a bunch of guys from Philly. We don’t play Villanova this year, but whenever we can beat another Philly team, it’s something of significance to us,” Murphy said.
Though the Quakers may not have had the most dominant performance against the Hawks, their flashes of greatness in the first half certainly show that this team has the potential to break out in a big way.