Many of Penn’s fall sports have begun to reach their homestretch, with the final few games set to decide the fate of their season. Let’s take a look at the pivotal weekend ahead.
It will be a Homecoming clash like no other for Penn football (5-0, 2-0 Ivy) this weekend, as the Quakers host Yale (4-1, 2-0) on Saturday at Franklin Field at 1 p.m., with the chance to extend their perfect season to 6-0. At every turn, there have been questions as to just how far the Quakers’ run can extend, and each time they have answered them with a resounding “further.”
In an Ivy League that is shaping up to look much different than it did a season ago, the Bulldogs will provide yet another hurdle for the Quakers to clear. Though their defense has been rather porous, they bring a strong rushing attack that will further challenge the Quaker D-line, a unit which has been up to the task to this point. Yale will provide no easy Homecoming win, but nothing will be easy the rest of the way if Penn wants to continue its unprecedented success.
Quaker to Watch: Kendren Smith (Defensive Back) - After returning from a devastating injury last season, Smith has been a game-wrecker for the Penn defense. He forced three turnovers against Columbia (one interception, two forced fumbles and fumble recoveries), earning the FCS National Defensive Player of the Week award.
Though the men’s soccer team’s (9-1-2, 3-0) winning streak came to an end with a draw against Drexel (5-3-5), its nine-game unbeaten streak and bid for an Ivy League title is still very much alive. On Saturday, the Quakers earned a 3-2 victory in a critical matchup at Cornell (10-3, 2-1), and the victory gave them the inside track to their first conference title since 2013.
This weekend, the team will host Brown (6-3-2, 0-1-2) at Penn Park on Saturday at 5 p.m., while the women’s team (3-3-7, 0-2-2) travels to New Haven to take on Yale (5-5-3, 1-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m. After a 1-0 loss to Dartmouth (8-4-2, 1-2-1), the women’s final three matchups will determine if the team finishes above .500, where they currently stand now at exactly even on the season.
Quakers to Watch: Isobel Glass (Forward) - Glass, also a sophomore, is second on the women’s team in points this season. Her play will be vital as the Quakers vie for a winning record.
Leo Burney (Defense) - As a freshman last season, Burney earned a First Team All-Ivy selection, and has not skipped a beat in his sophomore campaign. He also had the team’s lone goal against Drexel, and scored the game-winning goal against the Big Red.
Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams will participate in the Haverford Invitational this Friday. It will be a change of pace from their normal morning start times, with the women’s race beginning at 4:15 p.m. and the men’s race at 5 p.m.
Both groups competed at the Virginia XC23 Invitational last weekend, with the men’s team finishing 11th out of 17 and the women’s team slotting in eighth out of 18. Friday’s race will mark the last non-championship meet of the season for both teams. After that, only the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships and Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship remain, making Haverford essential for any runners still looking to cut time.
Quakers to Watch: Lizzy Bader - After finishing second-best among Penn runners at Virginia, Bader is peaking at the perfect time. Haverford will offer another opportunity for her to sharpen her iron.
Edwin Klanke - For a cross country runner, Klanke features excellent shorter speed, with a blazing personal record of 1:50.94 in the 800 meters on the track. After finishing second on the team at Virginia, only time will tell how prosperous both the rest of the season and the rest of his collegiate career will be.
It has been a momentous turnaround for Penn field hockey (4-8, 2-2), which began the season 0-7, but broke into the NFHCA Top 25 this week at No. 24. The Quakers will attempt to defend that ranking in Connecticut this weekend, first heading to Yale (7-7, 1-3) for a noon matchup on Saturday, then playing at Quinnipiac (5-10) at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Penn has won four of its last five matchups and are currently enjoying a three-game win streak, finally making due on the potential it showed early in the year.
Quaker to Watch: Maya Geller (Midfield) - In her senior season, Geller has continued to act as a consistent presence for Penn in all aspects of the game. She will hope to keep leading the team to victories in the twilight of her field hockey career.
Penn’s heavyweight, lightweight, and women’s rowing teams opened their season with strong showings at last week’s Navy Day Regatta. Most impressive was the heavyweight crew, whose A boat placed first out of 28, and whose B boat took third in their first event under new head coach Al Monte.
On the women’s side, Penn took first and second in the Women’s Collegiate Eights. This weekend, the teams will travel to Boston to compete in the Head of the Charles Regatta. The women’s events will take place on both Saturday and Sunday, while the heavyweight and lightweight teams will see action only on Sunday.
Quaker to Watch: Jason Kennedy (Heavyweight) - Last spring, Kennedy contributed to a second varsity boat that competed at IRA Nationals. If the Quakers want to continue their promising start, they will need him to continue rowing at his best.
It has not been an ideal season for the Penn volleyball team, which is currently 2-15 overall and 1-6 in the Ivy League after being swept by both Brown (9-7, 5-2) and Yale (15-1, 7-0). This Friday, they will host Princeton (14-3, 6-1) at the Palestra at 7 p.m. With seven matches left to play, there is still time for the group to salvage something from the campaign, but the Quakers are squarely out of the mix for Ivy League contention.
Penn’s main objective for the rest of the year will be generating momentum it can carry into 2023. There are just three seniors on the current roster, meaning next season could be one of marked improvement led by veteran leadership. But that begins now, with a few weeks left to ensure the year finishes on a positive note.
Quaker to Watch: Madeline McGregor (Opposite Hitter) - One of the team’s few seniors, McGregor also leads the group in points this season. Though the Quakers will look for a better record next season, they will undoubtedly miss her impact.
The sprint football team (3-2) got back into the win column last weekend with a 17-0 victory over Cornell. The Quakers will need an even better performance if they want to have a chance against Navy, the reigning Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) champions and owners of a 4-0 record. Penn will face off with the Midshipmen on Friday at 7 p.m. in Annapolis, Maryland.
At 3-2, the Quakers’ main goal for the rest of the year, and for years to come, will be to navigate out of CSFL purgatory. The league is dominated by a clear hierarchy: Army and Navy, and everyone else. As of now, Penn sits in the “everyone else,” category. But a gutsy showing against Navy could go a long way toward shortening the gap.
Quaker to Watch: Jordan Ortiz (Defensive Back) - Ortiz was named CSFL Defensive Player of the Week two weeks ago following Penn’s victory over Chestnut Hill. The sophomore also has a nose for the ball, snagging two interceptions against Chestnut Hill and finishing second in the CSFL in pass-breakups last season.