Expectations. You can either embrace them or shrug them off. With the season opener only days away, it’s safe to say that Penn women’s lacrosse has chosen the former.
“We want all those championships,” coach Karin Corbett said of her team’s ambitions this year.
For the Quakers, there are a good number of championships to be won. As they enter this newest campaign, the Red and Blue have their eyes on three pieces of silverware: an NCAA title, an Ivy League title and an Ivy League Tournament trophy.
In the past, only one of those has been a near-guarantee for Penn, who has taken home 10 out of the last 11 Ivy League titles. The Quakers missed out with a loss to Princeton in the 2015 season, but both teams finished 6-1 last year leaving them as joint champions.
“It’s always a challenge,” Corbett added. “Every year the target is on your back. We’ve had that every year for the last ten years.
“It’s nothing new for us. There’s a lot of pressure with that, but there’s also a lot of pride as well.”
Yet this season, the largest target might be falling on the Tigers, who were recently slotted as Ivy League title favorites with 120 points to Penn’s 111 in the preseason media poll.
Conversely, the Quakers held the upper leg in the ILWCA preseason poll, in which they were ranked No. 11 in the country with Ivy opponents Princeton falling at No. 13 and Cornell closely behind at No. 15.
Even when the rankings do speak in their favor, however, the Red and Blue are unlikely to pay them any mind.
“I think every year somebody is looking at you,” senior goalkeeper Britt Brown said. “I personally don’t really look at preseason rankings."
“The rankings are out there, but in a lacrosse game, when you can score a goal in 10 to 15 seconds, anything can happen.”
“I really think what matters is the end,” Corbett said. “We haven’t proven anything to be at 11.”
If the end is what the team is focused on, there is nothing more final than an NCAA championship, a feat that has eluded the Quakers to this day.
After last season’s deep run into the tournament, where then-senior Nina Corcoran helped lead her team to the quarterfinals, the Quakers appear as hungry as ever.
But in order to feed that appetite, Corbett’s side has some reworking to do. The loss of Corcoran and a strong core of seniors has left the team searching for a new edge to their play.
When the team travels to Delaware next weekend, we’ll see what exactly this season’s style is without the relentless flow of Corcoran’s record-breaking 58 assists from last season.
This search for new sources of strength, however, might feed directly into Penn’s attitude for the season as they look to new avenues to win games. Corbett claims this year’s team boasts the best midfield the Quakers have seen in years
“It’s a new year and we’re pursuing a championship,” Corbett said. “We’re not defending anything.”