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Penn women's basketball will look to start the season off strong with a road test at Siena, before the Quakers travel again to take on Notre Dame.

Credit: Zach Sheldon

A shot at redemption.

Last season, Penn women's basketball finished second in the Ivy League with an 11-3 conference record, but fell to Princeton in the Ivy League Tournament championship game. In their first game of the season against Siena, the Red and Blue will look to build off of this disappointing finish. 

“It’s our first competition, and everybody is really excited,” sophomore center Eleah Parker said. “I think we’ll play really well. We’ve worked really hard to compete this weekend and this season.”

Last season, Siena finished No. 3 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with a 17-14 overall record and an 11-7 conference record. In their final exhibition game of the offseason, Siena easily defeated Franklin Pierce, 76-51.

The opening game will include many new faces on the Quakers' squad, including three new members of the starting lineup. After the graduation of four seniors, including three starters, Penn's team this year is significantly younger. 

“Once the younger players get some of the jitters out in the first game, I think they’ll adjust quickly,” Parker said. “A couple of [freshmen] will have big roles. Some will have a big responsibility.”

The Quakers are welcoming this challenge and are ready to get more involved. Notably, the team expects rookies Mia Lakstigala, Meg Hair, and Kennedy Suttle to be in the mix. 

“I’m not going to be reserved with [the freshmen]. I’m going to play them,” coach Mike McLaughlin said.

With such a young team, many underclassmen will be asked to step up as leaders. A leader on the court, Parker will look to build off of an impressive freshman campaign during which she led all Ivy League freshmen in points per game and received second team All-Ivy honors. 

McLaughlin expects the team to lean on Parker, senior guard Ashley Russell, and junior guard Kendall Grasela early on in the season for leadership. 

“We’re going to see what we are. We’re going to be in some tough spots, and that is going to be the test of exactly who is going to step up,” McLaughlin said.

Facing two road games in just three days, the opening weekend for the Quakers will be mentally and physically taxing, traveling to both upstate New York and South Bend, Ind.

“It’s exciting, but it’s new to a lot of them. We’re going to approach it by taking care of Penn,” McLaughlin said. “We’re going to separate them both and take them one at a time. We want to simplify things and keep it slow for them.”

The first step for the Quakers will be to take care of Siena on Saturday afternoon. 

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