With one game left in the regular season, the Quakers are peaking at just the right time.
On the heels of a dominating win against Dartmouth to claim the program’s first outright Ivy League championship since 1986, No. 4 Penn men’s lacrosse (8-3, 6-0 Ivy) will travel to Wilton, Conn. on Saturday to play Vermont in its last game before the Ivy League Tournament.
It all came together for the Red and Blue in the last few weeks. The Quakers haven’t lost a game since the beginning of March, matching the longest active winning streak in the country with eight straight victories. Showing no signs of slowing down, the team has won the last three by a combined margin of 36 goals. However, the team has its eyes on the bigger picture.
“[The winning streak] is definitely something to be proud of, but that’s not really our goal. Our goal is to get better from week to week, so we can play our best lacrosse in May when the postseason comes up,” junior attackman Adam Goldner said.
With one last chance to round out any rough edges before the postseason begins, the Quakers will look to keep their momentum up and build upon their already impressive resumé for the NCAA Tournament when they face the Catamounts (7-5, 4-2 America East).
Vermont has one of the top defenses in the country. The Catamounts rank ninth in the nation in scoring defense, limiting their opponents to just under 10 goals per game. They are also 11th in the country in man-down defense. Furthermore, standing in goal for Vermont is junior Nick Washuta, who ranks in the top 10 nationally in save percentage and goals-against average.
“For us, it’s about playing with pace and being selfless, and we’ll continue to focus on that. It seems like [Vermont] is a fairly quick sliding, pre-sliding man-to-man defense, so that will increase the importance of us playing at that pace,” coach Mike Murphy said.
Luckily for the Quakers, they are equipped with an an elite offense. As a team, Penn ranks in the top 10 in a multitude of offensive categories: points per game, assists per game, faceoff winning percentage, scoring offense, and scoring margin. Individually, Goldner leads the Ivy League in goals per game, while freshman attackman San Handley ranks seventh in goals per game and fourth in assists per game.
Goldner has 44 goals on the season, which is tied for the most in Penn history. One more goal on Saturday would give him the all-time program record.
On the other side, the Catamounts lead the American East in points per game and assists per game. They are led by junior attackman Ben French and sophomore attackman Liam Limoges, who rank in the top 10 in the American East in goals per game and assists per game, respectively.
While Penn will finish the regular season as Ivy League champions with an undefeated conference record for the first time in over 30 years, the Quakers will have something else to celebrate — the selection of senior midfielder Tyler Dunn by the Redwoods LC in the second round of the inaugural Premier Lacrosse League Collegiate Draft. Serving as a co-captain of the Red and Blue, Dunn has 15 goals, seven assists, eight caused turnovers and 28 ground balls this season.
Before they can truly celebrate, however, the Quakers will look to take care of Vermont before preparing for the postseason.
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