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Penn men's lacrosse huddles during the season opener against Georgetown on Feb. 17. Credit: Weining Ding

Although losing an important match can sting for a long time, luckily, a new season can bring a fresh start and a new opportunity.

As Penn men’s lacrosse heads into their 2024 campaign, the team looks to build on their performances from last year. Having reached the semifinals of the Ivy League tournament, the Red and Blue were ultimately defeated by their rivals the Princeton Tigers in a close battle. The loss has since spurred motivation in the Quakers, who look to rebound in resounding fashion.

The team opened its season on Saturday against Georgetown at Franklin Field. As part of Team Impact, an organization dedicated to supporting children with serious illness or disabilities, fourth grader Toren Mehta joined the team during starting lineups and the National Anthm. Mehta is a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Honor Hero and is known as the “King of Hi-Fives.” 

Despite losing to the Hoyas by a final score of 12-9 on a snowy day, the Quakers had many bright spots to build on, including three goals scored by junior attacker Tynan Walsh. The team looks to recuperate when it faces UAlbany at Franklin Field. In the near future, the Quakers will begin Ivy League play on March 16th in a home match against Brown.

It cannot go unnoticed that many aspects of the team will change. For one, several key contributors on the team have graduated and are now playing in the Premier Lacrosse League. These players include midfielder Sam Handley and short-stick defensive midfielder Piper Bond. Handley was selected by the Chrome Lacrosse Club with the fourth overall pick in the 2023 Premier Lacrosse League draft, while Bond was taken 21st overall to the Archers Lacrosse Club.

While losing important players is never easy, the team is ready to fill the shoes that the players left behind. With coach Mike Murphy continuing to lead the way again, three seniors are ready to step up as leaders on and off the field. These include senior Brendan Lavelle, a USA Lacrosse Magazine and Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-American. Senior Peter Blake was also a 2023 All-Ivy honorees defender, and senior goalkeeper Emmet Carroll is back to defend the net.

Joining the ride are also a group of 13 newcomers, including two transfers from the University of Virginia, who are eager to be a part of something special this season. In fact, seven of these newcomers made the top 50 freshman as part of Inside Lacrosse’s Power 100 rankings.

In terms of the preseason polls, Penn is ranked No. 17 in the nation according to the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. In the Ivy League preseason media poll, Penn was selected to finish fourth in the standings, behind Cornell, Yale, and Princeton. With the top four teams getting a spot in the Ivy League tournament, the Quakers hope to make it back to the tournament again this year.

After experiencing a disappointing end to their season last year, the players are making sure to not let history repeat itself. The team is well positioned to make a deep run with the immense talent they possess on their roster, despite losing a few players to the professional leagues. A new season is a new beginning, and no team is the same as last season. However, one thing remains the same: the team’s steadfast goal in winning the Ivy League and potentially a national championship.