The 2019 fall season is heating up for Penn's teams. With most sports approaching the end of their nonconference schedules, these are the impact players to watch heading into this weekend.
Emily Sands — Women's soccer
Senior forward Emily Sands has taken a commanding role in the Red and Blue's offense over the past few seasons. A four-year starter, Sands has achieved impressive offensive numbers, netting eight goals last year.
Through the first six games of this season, the senior has come back as an even more fundamental part of the attack. Already finding the back of the net four times while also being credited with three assists, she has been involved in over 60% of the Quakers' goals. Sands has also been highly accurate so far, touting a 54.5% shot-on-goal percentage.
"We have really grown since last year. Everybody came back better," Sands said. "I think we are clicking in a really good way, especially in practice. I think we are a lot further along than we were last year.”
The Quakers are now focusing on their next pair of games at Rhodes Field against Hofstra on Friday and Temple on Sunday. Sands views the matchup with Temple as more than just an ordinary contest.
"It’s like a battle for the city, so that’s pretty exciting.”
Parker Jones — Volleyball
Junior outside hitter Parker Jones, who is also a DP staffer, has been key to Penn volleyball’s early success this season. Coming off of consecutive 200+ kill seasons, Jones, who is also a DP staffer, has not slowed down, leading the team with 71 kills in the first six games of the season. With a .216 attack percentage, Jones has been over 40% more successful in attacks than Penn's opponents.
The junior also recently led Penn to an undefeated weekend at the Valley Forge Sports Invitational at the Palestra. Leading the team in kills, she earned All-Tournament honors while also being awarded the title of MVP. Overall, strong hitting from the Red and Blue has led to their best start in the last decade.
The Quakers will head west to the UC Riverside Invitational this weekend, looking to extend their four-game winning streak.
Julianna Catania — Women's cross country
Penn women’s cross country will head to Boston College and Haverford this weekend, with some of the runners competing in the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown and others in the Main Line Invitational. One of the Quakers' leaders is senior Julianna Catania, a veteran track and cross country runner. Currently holding the second-best mark in Penn history in the 3,000m steeplechase (10:28.23), Catania has proven to have endurance and lasting power throughout her events.
Last weekend, she led the Red and Blue to a fourth-place finish with a time of 20:03.57 at the Fordham Fiasco. As a group, nine of Penn's runners all finished within four seconds of each other. Moving forward, Catania and the rest of the pack will look to hit peak form as the season progresses.
Anthony Russo — Men's cross country
Like the women's team, Penn men's cross country will be split between two locations. After a third-place finish at the Fordham Fiasco last weekend, part of the team will travel to Haverford on Friday to compete in the Main Line Invitational. Having had recent success in this event, the Quakers are hungry for another strong showing.
Junior Anthony Russo is poised to have a strong performance on Friday. Having finished in second place in the four-mile race last year, Russo is among the favorites in the event this time around. Penn’s solid showing last weekend was a good look at the talent of this team, and this weekend will give the Quakers another opportunity to impress.
Joey Bhangdia — Men's soccer
Junior midfielder Joey Bhangdia has taken command of the Penn men's soccer offense this year. With two goals in three games, he has become a key component of the Quakers' attack. Nearly a third of all chances this season have come from Bhangdia, who currently places over 35% of his shots on goal. Furthermore, Bhangdia’s skills have also helped the Red and Blue in crucial moments, evidenced by his game-winning goal against Marist on Sept. 9.
As the Quakers head into the weekend, they will face Temple at home. Last year’s game finished as a scoreless draw in double overtime, with neither team finding the back of the net. Bhangdia came on as a sub last year and attempted one shot. The Red and Blue's offensive momentum, as well as their strong defense, will put them in a good position this weekend against the Owls.
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