With Penn men’s lacrosse set to officially begin its season on Feb. 17 against Georgetown, a look at the full slate of games ahead of the team is in order.
While the Quakers only finished one game above .500 in the 2023 season, with an overall record of just 7-6, this year’s squad is forecasted to be one of the best in the country — the Nike/US Lacrosse Preseason Top-20 ranked Penn at No. 17 and senior Brendan Lavelle made the USA Lacrosse Division I Men’s Preseason All-America third-team.
However, the Ivy League is littered with elite lacrosse talent, with three other teams also ranked highly in the preseason, including No. 7 Cornell, No. 10 Yale, and No. 14 Princeton. Whichever team peaks at the right time, and stays the healthiest, will find themselves at the top of the tables at the end of Ancient Eight play. With that in mind, here are five games to look forward to this season.
Feb. 17 vs. Georgetown
The Red and Blue start their season with a noon game against Georgetown at Franklin Field. Georgetown is ranked No. 12 in the country and has gotten the best of Penn in three out of the four games they have played against each other. However, the Quakers picked up their first win against the Hoyas last season — a game in which the key to victory was senior Cam Rubin, who scored four goals and propelled them to a 9-7 victory. Rubin may need a similar performance if there is any hope of starting the season off in the W column.
Feb. 24 vs. Delaware
Penn has a storied history against Delaware lacrosse. Their first matchup was in 1957, and they have played a total of 23 games since. While the Quakers have an overall record of 17-6 against the Blue Hens, they faltered in their most recent match. Nevertheless, that was under the Bush administration (the son, not the father), and obviously, much has changed since then. Fast forward to 2024, and Delaware is ranked just one spot ahead of Penn, making for what is theoretically an incredibly even-footed affair. This game is the start of a three-game stint against ranked opponents, so a win here is crucial for momentum as the Quakers look to come out of the other side on top.
March 1 @ Duke
The Blue Devils were one of the best teams in college lacrosse last season, falling short in the national championship game against Notre Dame. Accordingly, they are ranked No. 2 in the country behind the Fighting Irish and will be the toughest opponent Penn faces all season — a team with three preseason All-American first-team members in seniors Brennan O’Neill and Jake Naso, and graduate student Kenny Brower. The Quakers lost 12-14 to Duke in 2023, which started them on the path of narrow wins and crushing defeats throughout the rest of the year. Dylan Gregar, who graduated last year, teamed up with Rubin to tally 3 goals and 1 assist each, but it wasn’t enough against a Duke team poised for a national title run. Traveling to Durham will be a huge test for the Red and Blue, and passing it would certainly bode well for a team with high aspirations.
March 3 @ North Carolina
“There’s no easy game” is a common cliché used by coaches across all sports, but looking at Penn’s schedule, it holds up. Right after what is sure to be a grueling game against Duke, the Quakers continue their tour of the great state of North Carolina against the No. 19 Tarheels. The two last matched up in 2012, resulting in a win for the Red and Blue, but the team's shaky 5-8 overall record suggests that the simple fact that Penn is ranked higher may not necessarily indicate smooth sailing. A full team effort from start to finish will be necessary against a strong North Carolina team, which will be especially difficult given the nature of Penn’s schedule.
April 20 @ Princeton
The Quaker’s close the regular season out in a rematch against the culprits for their Ivy League tournament semifinal exit — the Princeton Tigers. Despite Penn's 9-8 overtime victory to open up Ancient Eight play last year, the Tigers flipped the script and handed the Red and Blue an 8-9 loss to send them home empty-handed. Junior Ben Smith had Princeton’s number last season, scoring four goals in the win and notching a hat trick in the defeat, and the team will need every bit of his scoring and more to defeat a feisty Princeton team. Senior Brendan Lavelle, the definitive leader of Penn’s defense, will also have to contain junior Coulter Mackesy, a second-team preseason All-American member. Hopefully, a win here for the Red and Blue doesn’t lead to the same fate in the tournament, but only time will tell.