As the fall sports season continues, some Penn Athletics teams begin Ivy League play while others continue their nonconference schedules. Here are three questions heading into this weekend's matchups.
Will volleyball's hot start continue into the Ivy League season?
On Friday, Penn will travel to New Jersey to begin its Ivy League slate with a match against Princeton. The Quakers (7-2) have started the season in convincing fashion and are coming off a West Coast trip to the UC Riverside Invitational, where the Red and Blue collected wins against Seattle and UC Riverside before falling in five sets to Cal State Fullerton.
“We’re just excited to start Ivies and start seeing some familiar teams,” said sophomore Margaret Planek, who is second on the team with 99 kills in 2019. “[We want] to prove that we’re not to be taken lightly this season.”
The Tigers (4-5) are off to a slow start, but they took No. 14 Oregon to five sets at home on Sep. 17, and Penn hasn’t been able to secure a win against the Orange and Black since 2015. Nevertheless, the Quakers are off to their best start since 2009, when they finished 23-6 and made a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Can women's soccer get results in League play with freshmen in key roles?
League play will begin on Saturday afternoon for Penn when the Quakers head to Cambridge, Mass. to take on Harvard. The Crimson (6-2) have scored 12 goals and conceded just two in their last three contests, and while the Red and Blue (5-2-1) are coming off a weekend during which they split games with Hofstra and Temple, coach Nicole Van Dyke thinks that the team is playing better than some of its results would suggest.
“Despite the fact that we didn’t get a result against Hofstra, we were the better team on the day, and they’re a top-50 team,” Van Dyke said. “This team relies heavily on getting better throughout the week and then implementing that on the weekend.”
With regard to the Harvard matchup, Van Dyke admitted that teams do tend to rely on more experienced players as the League season begins, but she also said that strong minutes from freshmen like defender Peyton Raun and midfielder Sara Readinger have made for lots of healthy competition within the squad.
Above all, Van Dyke sees the game as an opportunity for Penn to build on some of its momentum as it gets into its conference schedule.
How will men’s soccer handle the pressures of a harsh West Virginia environment?
After suffering their first home loss of the season on Tuesday against Lehigh, the Quakers will look to rebound when they head to Morgantown, W. Va. for a Saturday evening matchup with West Virginia. The Mountaineers (5-2-1) are coming off of a 4-1 win at Ohio State, and they’ve already secured a 5-2 win over No. 15 Coastal Carolina.
“West Virginia is a good program and playing out there is not an easy place to go and play, but we’re excited about the opportunity to go play again against another really good team,” coach Brian Gill said. “We’ll have to regroup from [Lehigh] and hopefully make some changes that will give us a good opportunity to come back from West Virginia with a good result.”
Led by junior midfielder Joey Bhangdia and his four goals on the year, the Red and Blue (3-2-1) have thus far had much better luck finding the net than during the 2018 season, and they hope that their increased offensive output can be maintained in a challenging environment.
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