The top spot in the Ivy League. A five-game winning streak. That’s what’s on the line.
On the heels of a triple-overtime thriller against No. 2 Yale, Penn men’s lacrosse will travel to Providence, R.I. on Saturday to battle Brown for sole possession of first place in the Ivy League.
After a slow start to the season, the Quakers (5-3, 3-0 Ivy) are now one of the hottest teams in the country. In the past few weeks, the Red and Blue have had notable wins over No. 11 Villanova, No. 5 Cornell, and No. 2 Yale, in addition to remaining undefeated in Ivy League play.
“[The winning streak] has definitely built some confidence for the team, but we’re working on taking it one day at at time and trying to be the best versions of ourselves going forward," junior defenseman Mark Evanchick said.
On the other hand, the Bears (4-5, 2-0) have lost three of their last four games. However, Brown has performed well when it has mattered most, keeping a perfect conference record.
“One of our primary goals this season is to win the Ivy League, and [Brown] is the next step in that process,” coach Mike Murphy said.
Standing in the way of the Red and Blue will be Brown’s All-American and first team All-Ivy goalie, Phil Goss. A year ago, the junior averaged 13.13 saves per game, ranking second in the country in addition to 15th in the nation and second in the Ivy League in save percentage (.538). One of the best goalies in the country, Goss has already been named to the 2019 Tewaaraton Award Watch List, an award recognizing the most outstanding men's and women's lacrosse players in the nation.
“[Brown’s] goalie might be the best goalie in the country. It’ll be important that we get good shots from good spots on field,” Murphy said. “We will need to pass up good shots to get great shots. That’s been a consistent theme for us.”
Luckily for Penn, however, the Red and Blue offense is led by junior attackman Adam Goldner and freshman standout Sam Handley. Goldner currently leads the team with 27 goals, while Handley, a fellow attackman, leads the team in points with 32.
However, the Bears’ goalie is not the only concern for the Quakers.
“[Brown] is very chaotic. They have a 10-man ride and play fast,” Murphy said. “We like playing fast. I think that will help us as long as their chaotic approach doesn’t affect our decision making.”
Two teams will enter Stevenson-Pincince Field on Saturday with undefeated records in the Ivy League. However, only one will remain perfect.
“It’s business as usual,” Evanchick said.