In the second full season since the pandemic pause, Penn fall sports are aimed toward results on the page and reaching for conference titles, with teams juggling a unique toolbox of mixed experience in rosters, several new names across the coaching staff, and schedules keen on bringing a challenge. Having a recent past season to note weaknesses and redress them in quick turnaround, this year notes an exciting prospect of tracking progress in each team; whether they wish to forget poor records and begin on a blank slate, or build upon winning momentums of last fall.
Penn will return to familiar tracks to repeat and best its records as its campaign builds toward championship season. The Quakers will begin close to home with three meets in Pennsylvania, where benchmarks against competitors will rival again in end-of-season championship meets. With proven leadership under coach Steve Dolan, Penn aims to improve upon a third out of eight finish at the Ivy League Heptagonal, and a sixth out of 26 finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals.
Penn concluded its 2021 season with six wins in seven games, finalizing its record to 9-7, 5-2 Ivy. Each of its losses only arose against nationally-ranked teams early in the season, which honed the team for consistent conference wins that lifted the Red and Blue to third in the Ivy League.
The team has also been able to preserve a reliable group of upperclassmen, who will be crucial to elevating the team to reach for those final few margins in their Ivy League crown pursuit. The Quakers will now aim to chase Harvard and Princeton, the only two ranked teams in the Ivy League last season, while also maintaining command over each of its bested Ivy League rivals.
Coach Ray Priore’s brigade will welcome 25 new recruits as he leads the Quakers for his seventh season, in search of a winning record only last claimed in 2018. With a three win, seven loss season in its rearview mirrors, the team must prove quickly whether it can shed its ailments as diagnoses of the past. Penn will begin with back-to-back home games to commence the 2022 season — a test to sophomore quarterback Aidan Sayin, who played five games in 2021, as well as the younger players who are stepping up into leadership responsibilities.
"[Sayin] stepped up to the plate into a situation where he didn't know what was going to happen," Priore said. "His first career start, I think, was at Yale on the road ... We watched the film and we were like, 'this guy can play; this kid can play with the big dogs.' That was something we all realized last season, that this kid, he's a player, and he's going to go out there and work hard and compete. What more can you ask for for the quarterback to take control and run the offense the way it needs to be done?"
A tepid offense that averaged just 19.1 points per game, a perhaps reluctance toward bold, new calls to mend weakness, and a bottom-league finish to sign off the season, Priore’s prescription for the team must near heroism to bury the 2021 campaign in its tracks. But with a mix of experienced veterans, generously populated freshmen and sophomore classes, and a quarterback yet to come into his best form, the team boasts an interesting arsenal of talent suggesting potential.
Women’s golf proved an impressive progression of improvement through its campaign last year, from opening the fall season with a 12th out of 14 finish at the Nittany Lion Invitational, to scoring first-place finishes at the Prospect Bay Intercollegiate and the Hartford Invitational in the spring. But a sixth out of six finish at the Ivy League Championships, where luck and injuries forsook the team, leaves much to desire and affirm in the coming fall season.
The departure of coach Jason Calhoun from his role of the last five years left the position vacant since July. In Calhoun's place will be former Seton Hall coach Clay White, whose 18-year-long resume with the Pirates includes the recent run to the 2022 Big East championship.
The men’s team fared middle of the pack in its four fall competitions of 2021, which proved some of its best results all year. But under his new guidance, White finds an early chance to make statements on the green, with a season-opening Labor Day weekend outing at the Alex Lagowitz Memorial.
An almost spotless home record only spoiled by Princeton in the season finale, and two distinct triple-win streaks, Penn was consistent with solid contributions to its final record of 9-5-2, with victories often claimed in dramatic margins.
Seven seniors will return to Penn’s campaign aimed towards the Ivy League crown. But with coach Casey Brown’s departure, the team will now roll under the new guidance of coach Dr. Krissy Turner, who comes from leading Monmouth to eight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships through the past decade.
Comfortable with aggressive offensive strategy while also being keen on countering opposing opportunities through transition, Penn holds all the necessary cards to build a formidable team in its second season on return from the pandemic pause.
Despite a tough conclusion to its campaign, ending in four straight winless matches in Ivy League play, Penn men’s soccer proved robust in teamwork and quickly mending weaknesses early in the season — which must come earlier in this year’s campaign if the Quakers hope to improve.
"Looking back on that season, we would have felt that there were a lot of bright spots," coach Brian Gill said. "Even in games that we tied or didn't get the win, we would have walked away feeling like we played pretty well. But at the end of the day, those margins are the differences in getting to that next level that we want to."
The team proved several exceptional outings at the peak of its form; repairing its weakness of conceding immediately following its own score. Yet Penn struggled in late-season conference away games that knocked them down to sixth in the Ivy League.
"I don't think it would be something that we would look back on and feel ashamed of, or feel like we didn't put forth our best effort, because we did," Gill said. "Hopefully, the experiences coming out of those games will be ones where we can look back on and see where we fell short. So that as we move forward into the season, we can see where we can come out on top."
A squad now rich in upperclassmen experience will aim to improve from last season’s shortcomings through the guidance of seniors and graduate students, and a unique assortment of talent in the new recruits.
The Quakers must set their bar high coming off of a 5-2 season, where Penn averaged a 40-point margin in all its wins, including a 63-0 stomper over Cornell. Penn is on an eight-season winning streak against the Big Red as its only other Ivy League opponent, but will be facing Navy and Army again this season, who served the Quakers their only losses in 2021.
Two Ivy League wins at home marked a glimpse of hope at the end of Penn’s 8-15 season, as the Quakers repeated 3-0 wins against Columbia and Cornell. Volleyball will begin its campaign again with a three-game weekend invitational, which earned them three wins to start the season in 2021.
In her now second year of leading the Red and Blue, coach Meredith Schamun must solve the team’s vulnerability in holding extended streaks of losses, and instead flip the team’s momentum to maintain winning results. With a balance of experienced upperclassmen and a variety of exciting talents in the freshmen recruits, the 2022 season will depend on the team's resilience through any kind of challenge.