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Photos by David Zhou, Ilana Wurman, and Penn Athletics

As most fall teams' seasons have come to a close, the Penn sports world has been fully introduced to its new faces. Though no Red and Blue teams were able to bring home league championships, the school saw no shortage of rookie standouts, with the Class of 2021 making an immediate impact on programs left and right.

Earning playing time on a varsity team as a freshman is no small task — but starring on one is something even more impressive. Several Penn rookies stepped up to the plate in this regard — but which one had the best season? A trio of DP Sports' finest debate:

Cole Jacobson, Senior Sports Reporter:

Sprint football's defense dominated its foes from start to finish this year, and the impact that freshman middle linebacker Matt Gorman made from day one was a major reason why.

Coming off the team's 2016 championship season, there were a few key questions regarding who would fill into certain empty positions, and one of the biggest ones was who would end up joining senior captain Quinn Karam as the second inside linebacker. And, to steal a nickname from another Philly athlete, it was clear as soon as the team arrived in August that Gorman was "The Answer."

One of three freshmen to start on the Quakers' defense, Gorman's combo of speed, strength and pure football instinct made him a nightmare for opposing offensive lines all year. His first college game saw him credited with a team-high 13 tackles at Caldwell, and he didn't slow down much from there — despite missing the final two games with a spleen injury, he still led the team with 60 recorded tackles, and his 10 stops per game ranked second in the entire league.

Though the team came up just short of its first-ever back-to-back championships, the past two months have shown that Gorman will be one of the faces of the defense for years to come. And with that, he's a strong choice as the top rookie of the fall season — though there will undoubtedly be a more important trophy he'll be seeking later on.

Yosef Weitzman, Sports Editor:

Not to take away from any of the other phenomenal freshmen who competed for Penn Athletics this fall, but there was only one rookie who definitively proved herself as her team’s best player this season. And that rookie was Danielle Orie on Penn women’s cross country.

From the very beginning of the season, it was clear that Orie had a bright future in the Red and Blue. In her first collegiate competition ever, she finished sixth overall to help the Quakers win Gold at the Blue/Gold Classic. As impressive as that finish was, Orie only finished fifth among Penn runners.

It didn’t take long for Orie to catch up to her elder teammates, though. In the team’s very next competition at the Main Line Invitational, Orie broke out for an eighth-place overall finish, and the second-highest among Quakers.

It would only get better for Orie from there. This past weekend in Penn’s final meet of the season at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals, Orie was the first Penn runner to cross the finish line. And she held her own against the rest of the competition as well. Orie finished 11th overall out of 193, and she was just one place away from qualifying individually for Nationals.

The future is bright for Penn women’s cross country and Danielle Orie is the biggest reason why. For that alone, she should be the fall season’s Penn Athletics rookie of the year.

Will Agathis, Associate Sports Editor:

Penn field hockey had multiple freshman starters in 2017, but right back Reese Vogel was a revelation in her first year with the Red and Blue. Starting at a position where freshmen struggle to shine, Vogel looked every bit the part of a stalwart in the backend. A great fullback needs to have a combination of speed and physicality: Vogel excels in both departments. 

Defenders rarely pick up points in field hockey given the rules surrounding scoring, so it is of little surprise that Vogel did not pick up any goals or assists. That said, she repeatedly earned the praises of coach Colleen Fink and deservedly started every single contest. 

In a year where field hockey freshmen saw ample playing opportunity, Vogel excelled and now seems a prime candidate to become a four-year starter and fixture in the lineup.