Roundtable: What does Penn women's lacrosse need to do to repeat (again)?
When the men of Penn lacrosse won the Ivy League championship last year, it came as a bit of a surprise. The same cannot be said of their female counterparts.
Penn women’s lacrosse is an Ancient Eight institution — they have won the past eight consecutive Ivy League regular season championships. It has gotten to the point where it would be more of a surprise if the team didn’t finish atop the conference than if they extended their streak to nine-straight titles.
As the highest ranked team in the Ivy League (No. 14 in the coaches’ poll), the Quakers look to be prepared to come out on top once again, but with Princeton just behind at No. 15, it won’t be a cake walk. So what do the Red and Blue need to do to make it nine-in-a-row?
Sports Editor Colin Henderson: Penn has always been known for its defensive prowess, and given some of the top-tier players the squad has returning on the backline, this season should be no different. However, if the Red and Blue want to repeat, they’ll need to hold their own on the offensive side of the ball as well.
The Quakers were by no means lacking — by most definitions of the word — on the attack last year, and with star attacks Tory Bensen and Nina Corcoran returning this year, the Quakers have a solid base of leadership up front. But in order to change their perception as a defensive-minded squad, the Red and Blue will need some other complementary players to chip in.
This help could come from a pair of veteran players — junior attack McKenzie Hunt and former Ivy Midfielder of the Year Shannon Mangini — coming back from injury. Or it could come from upstart attack Iris Williamson, who has impressed in practice thus far this year. But it needs to come from somewhere.
Associate Sports Editor Tommy Rothman: What? "In order to change their perception as a defensively-minded squad?" If I had won eight championships in a row, I certainly wouldn't be looking to change anything. If defense has actually won championships without fail since 2007, then defensively-minded it is. To put that date in perspective, the last time a team other than Penn won the Ivy title, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" hadn't been released yet.
And the defense should once again be solid, led by reigning Ivy Defensive Player of the Year and preseason first-team All-American Meg Markham. Sure, it would help if the offense improved — and as Colin said, it's not like the offense was bad last year — but the onus is certainly not on the Quakers to make improvements. Penn just needs to keep up the status quo; it's the other seven teams in the Ancient Eight who need to bring about a change. If not, we should be discussing the possibility of a double-digit streak around this time next year.
Sports Editor Laine Higgins: For most of the Quakers’ roster winning is simply a habit. Not only have none of the current players on the Penn squad experienced a sub-.500 season, but none of the current players have experienced anything close to a sub-.500 conference record. Since 2012, the Red and Blue are 24-3 against Ivy foes. And with 11 players who started in 12 games or more in 2014 returning for the 2015 season, this year should be no different.
The veterans of women’s lacrosse are particularly impressive on the defensive side of the field, with Lax Magazine’s first-team All American Meg Markham leading the charge. The senior defense was unstoppable last year, taking home Ivy League defender of the year and IWLCA first-team All American honors.
Junior goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson and senior defense Taylor Foussadier have similarly impressive lists of accomplishments, each earning pre-season All American honorable mention nods by Inside Lacrosse. With such a loaded defensive lineup, Penn’s opponents should be trembling in their boots.