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Penn women's lacrosse team embraces in a home game against Yale on Apr. 8, 2023.

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

The Penn women’s lacrosse team was undeniable throughout all of its Ivy League title-winning season last year. This year, the team might be even better. 

In 2023, the Quakers maintained a perfect 7-0 record against Ancient Eight opponents, culminating in a 15-14 overtime win against Yale in the Ivy League championship game. They also clinched an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2019, where the team ultimately lost to Boston College in a second round 7-9 defeat

Heading into the season opener against Drexel on Saturday, the Red and Blue are ranked at No. 17 in the USA Lacrosse Division I Women's Top 20 and are returning virtually all of their top talents from the previous year. The reigning Ivy League Attacker of the Year senior Niki Miles, Ivy League Midfielder of the Year junior Anna Brandt, and Ivy League Defender of the Year senior Izzy Rohr headline a scarily talented roster. 

What’s more, the Quakers are welcoming the return of junior attacker Keeley Block, who missed all of the 2023 season due to injury. Block was an honorable mention All-Ivy selection in 2022 and is poised for a huge year alongside Miles. 

“There's just an underlying theme of gratitude that we all feel coming into the season because we have so many fifth years, so many returners that we're grateful enough to get another year with them,” Brandt said. “To be able to play with the same team as last year is such a gift … it's rare in college athletics.” 

While gratitude was a point of emphasis for Brandt, the trio of top talent on the squad all felt one thing above all else: hunger. 

From an outside perspective, one may wonder what's left to prove for a team that dominated in the manner that they did last season. Yet for them, the job is anything but finished. 

“We're taking the confidence and the things that we learned from last year with us, but we're completely recognizing that it's a new season on its own and that we have to earn every single win, just like we did last time,” Miles said. 

Despite a perfect Ivy League record, the Quakers are looking to make a name for themselves on a national level, which starts with beating out-of-conference teams. With games slated against No. 9 Loyola Maryland on April 17 and No. 11 Johns Hopkins on Feb. 24, this will be no easy task, but the team is ready for the challenge. 

The Quakers certainly have all the talent necessary to win back-to-back Ivy League titles and make a deep push in the NCAA tournament, but they will definitely be less overlooked than they were previously. Their 2022 season was underwhelming — they finished with an overall record of just 6-9 — which in turn led to them being ranked middle of the pack in the Ivy League heading into 2023 and undoubtedly catching a few teams by surprise on their path to domination. 

Coming off of the season that the team just had, opponents will be ready, but Penn women’s lacrosse will be too. 

“We know we have a target on our back, and I think that fires us up. We love to have that energy coming at us,” Rohr said. 

Having spent the entire offseason knowing that they are the current top dog in the league and preparing as such, the Quakers are ready to bring a flexible and dynamic game plan for every opponent that they face, with the goal of hindering any team’s ability to prevent what they want to do at all levels of the game. Whether it be defensively or offensively, the goal is to be so well-versed in the team’s strategy that they can adapt to compete at the highest level regardless of the matchup. 

“They can try and stop us in whatever ways that they want to, but we're focused on what we have and what we can bring to the table,” Brandt said.

Everything is on the table for the Quakers as the season draws closer and closer, and it will be up to them to take it. Their schedule isn’t easy, their path to success isn’t guaranteed, and the unpredictability of college sports can strike at any moment, but the Red and Blue are prepared for anything thrown their way — and they have the confidence required of a championship-caliber team. 

“We're not defending anything,” Miles said. “We're going to earn another title.”