As the fall sports season gets into full swing, the University of Pennsylvania’s sports teams have a jam-packed weekend of action ahead. Let’s take a look at some of the games to come and the players who could determine them.
After a season-opening comeback win against Colgate (1-2), the football team sets its sights on another non-conference opponent: Lafayette (1-2). They will square off on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Franklin Field as the Quakers look to continue to bounce back from a disappointing 2021 campaign.
Lafayette has struggled offensively thus far in the young season. The Leopards have managed just 27 points over three contests and earned their lone win against Sacred Heart, 6-0. That may not bode well against a Penn defense that has been quite stout, particularly against the pass. However, Lafayette did defeat Penn last season by a score of 24-14, one of just three wins for Lafayette in 2021. Saturday will offer a chance at revenge for the Quakers.
Quaker to Watch: Aidan Sayin (Quarterback) — After setting a new career-high with 289 passing yards against Colgate, Sayin hopes to lead Penn to another win and continue his quest to be the school’s greatest signal caller of all time.
Both men’s and women’s tennis will be playing in invitationals this weekend, albeit with one traveling much further than the other.
The men’s tennis team will make the trek to Princeton to participate in their Fall Invite, while the women’s team will remain home, playing host to the Cissie Leary Invitational. The latter tournament is named in honor of illustrious Penn tennis coach Cissie Leary, who passed away in 1996.
Both teams are coming off other major tournaments — the men’s team just finished hosting the Penn Invitational, while the women’s team recently returned from New York after playing in the Columbia Invitational. The meet marks one of the last chances for both teams to prepare before they begin a string of championship tournaments put together by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
Quakers to Watch: Sabine Rutlauka (Women’s Singles and Doubles) — Rutlauka was named Second Team All-Ivy as a freshman and has begun her sophomore campaign in a similarly dominant fashion, winning both her singles matches at the Columbia Invitational.
Kian Vakili (Men’s Singles and Doubles) — The freshman was 3-0 in his singles matches at the Penn Invitational, his first event as a Quaker. He looks for another strong showing at Princeton as his debut season progresses onward.
The men’s golf team will travel to Yale for the MacDonald Cup this weekend, looking to follow up an impressive third-place performance at the Temple/Cornell Invitational last weekend. It was another piece of what has been a strong season thus far for the group, improving upon a sixth-place finish at last year’s Ivy League Championships.
The women’s team will also be in action, joining the men’s tennis team in New Jersey for the Princeton Invitational. After teeing off its season at Yale on Sept. 10, the team has had some time off to prepare for this next stretch of the season.
Quakers to Watch: Julie Shin (Women’s Golf) — In her first collegiate tournament at Yale earlier this month, Shin finished tied for fourth place among a field of 81 players. Her performance generated much optimism for the future, and even included a rare hole-in-one.
Mark Haghani (Men’s Golf) — A former runner-up at the Ivy League Championships and first team All-Ivy selection, Haghani, a senior, will look to close out his collegiate career in style, with an individual Ivy League Championship on his mind.
The men’s and women’s soccer teams will both face key opponents this weekend, with the women’s group beginning Ivy League competition at home against Harvard (6-0-1) on Saturday at 2 p.m., and the men traveling to Chicago to face DePaul (3-1-3) on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Both squads have winning records to this point in the season. The men’s team sits at 4-1-1, while the women’s team is 2-1-5 after tying over half of its games. The latter group will have its hands full with a Harvard team that is ranked 16th in the nation.
DePaul will also provide a challenge in their own right. The Big East representative recently earned draws with Notre Dame and Butler, the No. 22 and No. 20 teams in the nation, respectively.
Quakers to Watch: Sizzy Lawton (Midfielder/Forward) - A former Second Team All-Ivy selection, Lawton has been an important part of the Penn program for several years now. The senior has either scored or assisted on 44% of the team’s goals this year.
Michael Hewes (Midfielder) — It was a banner week for Hewes, who earned both the Ivy League and Philadelphia Soccer Six Player of the Week awards. He will attempt to parlay that recognition into continued success against DePaul.
It was a tremendous start to the season for the sprint football team last Friday, earning a decisive 30-7 victory over Alderson Broaddus (0-1) at Franklin Field. As the Quakers prepare for their matchup at St. Thomas Aquinas (0-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m., one question prevails: how high can this team fly?
After earning a 5-2 record in 2021, the team had great aspirations heading into 2022. Those aspirations were only further inflated after their impressive week one win, and a Collegiate Sprint Football League title does not seem completely out of reach. But, in order to achieve that goal, the group will have to get through Army and Navy, the schools that dealt them their two losses last season.
Quaker to Watch: Brandon Graves (Wide Receiver) — Graves, a freshman who played in his first game last weekend, was dominant in his collegiate debut, utilizing his 6’3" frame en route to five catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns. He was also named CSFL Rookie of the Week.
The field hockey team will make the short jaunt across town to play Temple (7-1) on Sunday at 12 p.m. Temple is currently ranked No. 24 in the nation, with a loss to No. 12 Virginia its only blemish thus far.
It has been a difficult season for the field hockey team, with four of their six losses coming by just a single goal. That included a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the reigning national champions, No. 1 Northwestern, a game in which the Quakers put the Wildcats into their first deficit of the season. In many ways, it was a game about much more than field hockey, as Penn competed in its annual Gold in September matchup to fight childhood cancer.
With nearly the entirety of its Ivy League schedule yet to play, there is still much time for the group to turn its season around. And while the Temple matchup may be challenging, if the team’s other contests are any indication, it will be one that comes down to the final moments.
Quaker to Watch: Frederique Wollaert (Goalie) - Despite not appearing in a game as a freshman, Wollaert has shown she was prepared from the moment she stepped into the net for Penn. Against Northwestern, she played 60 minutes and recorded 10 saves.