In a season already defined by fierce competition, Penn men’s lacrosse will face what may be its toughest opponent yet — the reigning national champion, No. 2 Yale, at home this Saturday.
Despite a slow start to their season, the Quakers (4-3, 2-0 Ivy) have won their last four games, the most recent against No. 5 Cornell.
“The key has just been improvement," coach Mike Murphy said. “We’ve had players individually get better. We’ve had units get better. And we’ve improved our chemistry.”
Unfortunately for the Red and Blue, however, the Bulldogs (6-1, 2-0) are just as hot, riding their own six-game winning streak with no signs of slowing down. One of the keys to their success has been winning faceoffs. In fact, Yale leads the nation in faceoff winning percentage.
“A big part of the game on Saturday will be the face-off battle. We’ve had a possession advantage in every game this season. I’m not sure we can count on a possession advantage against Yale,” Murphy said.
Junior attackmen Jackson Morrill and Matt Gaudet will lead the way for the Elis. Morrill has 13 goals and 20 assists this season while Gaudet has 20 goals of his own.
On the other side of the field, the Quakers are led by junior attackman Adam Goldner and freshman standout Sam Handley. Goldner currently leads the team with 25 goals, while Handley, another attackman, has already racked up 13 goals and 14 assists in his rookie season.
A year ago, Penn lost to Yale twice, once in the regular season and once in the Ivy League semifinals, by a combined margin of 21 goals.
“I don’t think [last year’s games] will have an effect on Saturday,” Murphy said. “It’s a pretty different team that we have this year, and [Yale] is a very different team. I’m sure some of the upperclassmen remember it, but it hasn't been brought up.”
On Saturday at Franklin Field, Yale will look to continue its run at another national championship, but the Red and Blue will play with a chip on their shoulder in seeking to avenge their losses to the Bulldogs from a year ago and establish their position in the Ivy League.