As fall sports progress through October, most Penn Athletics teams continue to face Ivy League opponents and attend crucial meets. Here are three questions heading into this weekend’s matchups.
Can cross country continue its string of strong performances?
Penn cross country will have a busy weekend, as the Quakers take part in the Penn State National Open on Friday and the Princeton Invitational on Saturday.
The Quakers have collected impressive results so far this season. At Lehigh's Paul Short Invitational, the men finished second out of 44 teams — several of which were nationally ranked — thanks to another strong performance by junior Anthony Russo, who finished 11th overall. He was joined by senior Will Daly and junior Ryan Renken in the top 25.
On the women’s side, the Red and Blue were just as dominant. Currently ranked No. 23 in the country, they came in third at the meet, ahead of 35 other teams. Senior Maddie Villalba crossed the finish line first for the Quakers and 12th overall, while Nia Akins finished 27th, helping Penn finish in front of No. 27 Princeton.
If the Red and Blue continue to put up similar performances, they will be set for more success this weekend.
Can field hockey keep its momentum going?
Penn field hockey had a rough start to their season with five consecutive losses. However, the Quakers (5-6, 2-1 Ivy) have bounced back ever since, winning five out of their last six games, including Ivy League matchups against Dartmouth and Cornell.
Over fall break, the Red and Blue managed to pick up two victories in overtime. They were led by freshman midfielder Meghan Ward, who scored her first two career goals against the Big Green, and sophomore forward Maddy Fagan. Fagan's performance, which included two goals and two assists, was enough to earn her Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week.
Fagan will try to repeat her success in Penn's two games this week. On Friday, the Quakers will face Columbia in New York. The Lions (5-6, 1-2) have lost their last three games and will try to look for redemption against the Red and Blue. Nonetheless, the Quakers haven’t managed to pull an upset against a ranked opponent this season, which could mean that they will have a hard time against No. 11 Delaware on Sunday at the Ellen Vagelos Field.
How will men’s soccer respond to its recent loss?
The Quakers displayed an impressive defensive performance once again in their game against UMBC on Tuesday. However, they were unable to get going on the offensive side and come out on top, eventually falling by a score of 1-0. Penn (4-4-2, 1-0-1) will look to rebound on Saturday when they host Dartmouth. The Big Green are yet to win an away game and will try to repeat last year’s performance when the Quakers allowed three goals — the most since Brian Gill took over as head coach.
The Quakers will try to keep their defense just as strong, but they will need to improve their attack to secure the win and build momentum for their remaining games. Against the Retrievers (5-6-1), Penn missed many opportunities to apply pressure and was caught offside eight times.
Despite the result, the match was a chance to see new faces starting for the Red and Blue. Freshman goalkeeper Nick Christoffersen and sophomores Brendan Hanrahan and Matt Leigh earned their first starts. Leigh, who had already appeared in every game, finished with two shots — including one on goal.
As soon as they find consistency on both ends of the field, the Quakers could pose a serious threat in the Ancient Eight.
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