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W. Lax reaches .500 for first time since 1994

(05/02/01 9:00am)

Heading into Sunday's season finale with American, the Penn women's lacrosse team had a few goals in mind. On the team level, the Quakers were trying to finish at .500 for the first time since 1994, and thereby improve their chances of being selected on May 8 to compete in the post-season ECAC Tournament. And on the individual level, defender Amy Weinstein -- the sole senior on Penn's roster -- was on a mission to net her first goal of the spring. Done and done. With a mere 60 seconds remaining on the clock and in her collegiate career, Weinstein found the back of the net off an assist from freshman Chelsea Kaden, putting the Quakers up 12-4 and sending the Franklin Field crowd into a frenzy. Penn (8-8) went on to score once more, and defeated the overmatched Eagles, 13-4, to finish its 2001 campaign with a bang. "It's great to end on a win, and for us to be 8-8 feels really good," Penn junior attacker Jenny Hartman said. "We're really excited for Amy, because she really wanted to score a goal today and she did." Weinstein, who amassed 18 goals as an attacker during her first two seasons and netted one apiece as a defender in her junior and senior years, was also excited -- on both counts. "It's good to go out on a high note. Not a lot of Penn teams have been able to do that in the past," said Weinstein, who is also excited about the possibility of extending her career for two more games should the Quakers get selected for the ECAC Tournament. "We'd always just joked around about how in the last game that if we were winning by a lot, I'd go in on attack and get my goal. And I was tired -- I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off out there. "It took a couple of shots, but I did it. It was just kind of a relief." Quakers sophomore Bess Lochocki also scored her first of the season, classmate Christy Bennett netted her second and Kaden tallied her third as a slew of unlikely suspects beat the American (6-9) goalie in the final minutes. But over the game's first 33 minutes -- during which Penn built an insurmountable 7-1 lead -- it was the Red and Blue's usual suspects who did the trick. After the Eagles jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, junior Traci Marabella -- the Quakers second-leading scorer in 2001 with 16 goals and 16 assists -- tallied the equalizer to erase American's only lead of the day. Minutes later, Kate Murray -- Penn's top scorer with 30 goals and five assists -- put the Quakers ahead to stay on a free-position shot. Hartman had a hat trick and sophomores Alison Polk-Williams and Jayme Munnelly also found the net during this stretch, as the Quakers continually pressured the Eagles. Penn overcame a number of clearing errors and turnovers in the midfield by doubling the visitors and forcing them into mistakes of their own. As evidenced in this season-ending victory, the Quakers have begun to climb their way up the ladder of college lacrosse. In coach Karin Brower's second year at the helm of the team, Penn moved from seventh to fifth in the Ivies. Along the way, the team defeated Harvard and Brown for the first time since 1998 and 1996, respectively. "Moving up two spots in the Ivies was probably the highlight [of this season]," Brower said. "That was a realistic goal of ours -- to be in the middle of the pack. Whereas next year, we're definitely going to be shooting higher than that." Penn's improvement in the standings can be traced directly to Brower's ability to locate problems with the team early on and to correct them on the fly. "I thought we did better as the season went along with moving the ball through the midfield -- passing it rather than running it. But we still have a long way to go with it, because we are young," said Brower, whose roster includes 21 freshmen and sophomores. With only one senior graduating and nine new players set to matriculate to Penn in the fall as part of Brower's first true recruiting class, things can only get better for the Red and Blue. "It's going to be a very different team next year," Brower said. "The biggest thing is we're going to have depth in the midfield." And with the addition of several blue chip recruits who passed on scholarship offers from top 20 schools to come to West Philadelphia, the Quakers have their sights set even higher for next year. "Our ultimate goal is to go to NCAAs," Hartman said. "And I think that's feasible next year, as everyone will be a little bit older and a little more experienced."

W. Lax blitzed by Temple

(04/27/01 9:00am)

The referees showed up late. But the Penn women's lacrosse team did them one better. In a game that's start was delayed 15 minutes because there were no officials, the Quakers (7-8) didn't really show up until they were in a deep hole yesterday at Temple's Geasey Field. The Owls (9-5) blitzed Penn, going up 6-0 after just seven minutes, and the Quakers could never recover from their cold start. Temple won big, 16-7. "We just weren't ready to play, and that's a continual problem for us," Penn coach Karin Brower said. "It's like the team was shocked that the other team is fast and strong like we keep telling them they'll be. And then we're on our heels." Temple got on the scoreboard 19 seconds in on a shot by midfielder Deanna Radcliffe, and the Owls proceeded to find the net on their first four chances. Before Quakers sophomore Alison Polk-Williams beat the Temple goalie with a free-position shot at the 21:09 mark to make it 6-1, the tone of the game had already been established. "When we realized we had to step it up, it was too hard to make up those first six goals. That just set the pace for the game," said Penn attacker Lindsay Smith, who had two goals and an assist. "We lost some of our spirit there, but we picked it back up and I think we could have won if we had come out harder in the first few minutes." Indeed, a second goal by Polk-Williams and scores by Smith and fellow Quakers sophomores Crissy Book and Kate Murray sliced the Owls lead to 7-5 with 10:50 left in the first stanza. But a two-goal deficit was as close as Penn would come. Temple broke from a timeout following Murray's score and netted three straight, and eventually went into the half leading, 11-7. The Quakers converted on over half of their chances in the first 30 minutes, but a low draw-control percentage, poor defensive communication and marginal goaltending allowed the Owls to keep Penn at a distance. "The biggest thing was having the ball in your attacking end. It seemed like whoever won the draw and had the ball was going to score," said Book, who had two first-half goals. "Plus, they won just about every ground ball." Coming out of halftime, the Quakers seemed poised to make a game of it, only to be turned aside. Kate Murray and Traci Marabella assisted on one another's goals as Penn made it 11-9 with 19:48 left, but that was all the Quakers could muster. "When I called a timeout in the second half, we just needed to get a little bit of composure," Temple coach Kim Ciarrocca said. "I didn't think my attack to goal strong and was kind of sitting on their lead a little bit, and we had to change that." Over the final 19 minutes, the Owls came alive to tally the contest's final five scores, while Temple goalie Veronica Sheena Oommen held Penn scoreless. The Quakers met with limited success as the game wore on, due to the Owls slow-down strategy and the physical nature of the play. In particular, Penn had no answer for Temple's six-foot midfielder Patience Synnestvedt. "We knew they were physical, and I guess we didn't come out as physical as they did. And they had that huge monster," said the 5'8" Book, who drew against Synnestvedt several times. Book was also sidelined in the second half after taking an Owls centering pass to the upper lip. Synnestvedt overpowered whomever Penn put on her and led the Owls with four goals. Six Temple players scored at least twice, as the home team won the critical loose balls. "The ball was on the ground, they were there first. The shot was on net, they were behind the net for the rebound," Smith said. "They were just reacting quicker to everything than us." While fans and players alike thought the Owls left early on several free-position shots and restarts, the fact remains that Penn was tattooed by Temple for a season-high 16 goals. The Quakers cannot let this loss get to them, however. Penn is back in action Sunday, facing American -- whom the Quakers beat, 17-8, last year -- with a .500 record and a possible berth in the ECAC Tourney on the line.

Late-game heroics spur W. Lax to win

(04/23/01 9:00am)

Better late than never. After Saturday's last-minute, 9-8 victory at Brown for the Penn women's lacrosse team, there's a good chance that the Quakers could be taking this on as their motto. For nearly 14 minutes in the second half, the Quakers (7-7, 3-4 Ivy League) found themselves down 8-7, constantly on the verge of tying the score but never breaking through. Then in a span of 44 seconds, Penn scored two goals to catapult itself to a dramatic, last-second win. With only 2:20 remaining, Penn freshman Lindsey Cassidy beat Bears goalie Niki Caggiano to knot the score at 8-8. "Kate [Murray] just kind of told me to go up on attack, and then Jenny [Hartman] fed it to me in transition, and I think it caught Brown off guard," said Cassidy of her equalizing score. And with just 1:36 left on the clock, sophomore Murray netted her sixth score of the game -- a career high -- to put Penn ahead to stay. "[Coach] Karin [Brower] told me to go to the crease and fake like I was going to pass, and then roll under my defender and shoot, and I did, and it worked," said Murray of her game-winning goal. Despite trailing for most of the day, Penn never let the Bears (5-7, 2-4) get too far out of its sights. Although the Quakers led for only six of the 60 minutes of play, they never allowed Brown to go up more than two goals. "It was one of those games where we were behind the whole game, but for some reason, we never thought we would lose," said Penn tri-captain Traci Marabella, who had two assists. "Karin pulled some people over to talk to them in the second half, and I know she said to me, 'We need you right here.' So we were pretty aggressive at the end." One Red and Blue player who was aggressive not only at the end, but throughout the game, was Murray. Penn's leading scorer with 27 goals, Murray personally kept pace with Brown. With the Quakers down 3-1, Murray netted her first two goals to tie the game at 3-3 heading into the half. And with Penn down 7-5 in the second frame, Murray scored two goals a minute apart to tie it again. "We stopped at this convenience store on the bus ride home, and Kate said to me, 'Wow, we beat Brown.' And I said, 'No, you beat Brown,'" Marabella said. "It's huge, the way Kate played. And they were amazing goals, not like shots where the Brown goalie missed the saves." The Bears, who defeated Penn 9-5 last spring, looked to be on the verge of pulling away when they netted three goals in less than two minutes early in the second half. But the Quakers, behind strong goalkeeping from sophomore Alaina Harper and a 14-5 advantage on draw controls, remained in the thick of things. "The draw controls were a huge part of the win. It allowed us to go down and set up our offense right away," Murray said. "And our defense held up big and kept them out in the final minutes." Indeed, Harper held the Bears attack in check when it mattered most, keeping Brown scoreless over the final 18 minutes of the first half and final 16 minutes of the second frame. Crissy Book added a goal in each half for the Quakers and along with classmate Whitney Horton, was a major force in the midfield. This victory marks the first time since 1997 that Penn has won three Ivy games in a season, and only the second time since 1983 that the Red and Blue have topped the six-win plateau. Coming off of back-to-back losses to No. 10 Dartmouth and No. 3 Princeton --in which Penn was outscored 18-4 in the second-halves of those contests -- it was clear from the Quakers' resilient late-game play on Saturday that the team is maturing and able to rebound from defeat. "It was really important to win this game. To move up to fifth place in the Ivies was huge," Cassidy said. "Losing to Princeton and Dartmouth isn't as bad as losing to Brown would be, because we knew we were better than Brown and we knew we could beat Brown. "And next year we hope we can compete with the Princetons and Dartmouths. We needed this victory."

W. Lax hopes to change for better

(04/19/01 9:00am)

Sometimes you need a little bit of a change. And when the Penn women's lacrosse team faces Brown (5-6, 2-3 Ivy) on Stevenson Field at 1 p.m. tomorrow, the Quakers will be getting exactly that. Penn (6-7, 2-4) won't be playing at home, won't be playing on artificial turf and won't be confronted by a top-10 opponent. But the real story is another change -- with a victory over the Bears, the Quakers can secure fifth place in the Ivies, their highest finish since 1997. "It's a huge game -- it may be our biggest of the season," Penn sophomore goalie Alaina Harper said. "We can do this and be in fifth place. We want that. This team wants that." The Quakers enter the home stretch of their up-and-down 2001 campaign on a decidedly negative note. After losses to No. 10 Dartmouth and No. 3 Princeton -- games that were basically even at the half -- Penn is 0-6 against top-20 squads on the year. This high level of competition, while not yielding the positive results that Penn may have been looking for, has toughened the Red and Blue for games like Brown -- contests that Quakers coach Karin Brower terms "50-50 games." "I've seen a lot of positive things of late, especially today," said Penn junior tri-captain Traci Marabella, who is tied for the team lead with 25 points. "I think we have a lot of confidence. Yes, we lost by five [to Princeton], but we were up by one at halftime. "But I think that we shocked ourselves there -- and I think everyone is really happy with the way we played. So right now, our confidence level is great. We can definitely come out there and finish fifth in the Ivy League, which is a big step for us." To take this step, Penn must defeat a Brown team that resembles itself in a number of ways. Like the Quakers, the Bears have not been able to upend a top-20 team -- Brown is 0-5 in these games. And like the Quakers, the Bears have a lineup prominently led by underclassmen -- the team's two leading scorers, Rebekah Rottenberg and Meredith Goodell, are a sophomore and a freshman, respectively. "I know Penn is an up-and-coming team, as we claim to be as well," Brown coach Theresa Ingram said. "We play a lot of youth, and we hope to come out with a 'W,' but we realize that victories come not just in outcome but in other things as well." Another player the Quakers have to watch out for is Bears sophomore attacker Jocelyn Moore, who has four goals and seven assists this spring. But not to worry, Harper -- a high school teammate of Moore's at National Cathedral -- has that one covered. "It's really weird, actually, to play against someone you played with in high school," said Harper, who has faced other former teammates at Dartmouth and Columbia. "And they get really excited if they score on me, so it's a real competition to the bitter end." After recording a career-high 20 saves against Princeton, though, the odds are in Harper's favor. But for the Quakers offense -- which has been anemic in scoring just 15 goals in its past three games -- some changes are clearly necessary. A win in Providence, while very possible, will not come easily. The Bears stormed back from a 5-3 deficit to steal a 9-5 victory over Penn last spring. And this year, Brown has recorded a 4-2 mark at home. All indications point to a tight match in Providence -- but one the Quakers feel they can win. "We've been working for eight months, and this is it, the culmination right here," Harper said. "We haven't been fifth in a while -- we know we'll be better than seventh, but I'm not satisfied with that and I don't think anyone else is either."

W. Lax routed by Big Green

(04/16/01 9:00am)

After two weeks of flying high and enjoying the spoils of a four-game winning streak, the Penn women's lacrosse team came crashing back down to Earth on Friday night at Franklin Field. Despite playing No. 10 Dartmouth (9-1, 4-1 Ivy) fairly evenly in the first half, the Quakers (6-6, 2-3) were overpowered by the Big Green in the final 30 minutes, falling 14-4 in a rout. Penn trailed by a slim 4-2 margin at halftime but could not keep up with the faster Big Green as the game wore on. "They killed us in the midfield. Dartmouth took complete control of it," said Penn sophomore Lindsay Smith, who had a second-half goal. "In the second half, [what happened] was more that they just picked it up. And we were taking bad shots and weren't hitting the net." After 18 minutes of play, and after successive goals by Quakers attackers Jenny Hartman and Kate Murray, Penn found itself in a bit of a surprising 2-2 tie with the defending Ivy champs. And when the whistle blew to end the first half, the Quakers still appeared to be in the thick of things -- despite trailing 4-2, despite converting only two-of-12 shots, and despite having a plethora of unforced turnovers. But then the second half began, and the floodgates opened. Before Penn coach Karin Brower called a time out with 17:50 remaining, the Big Green had run off four straight goals to go up 8-2, and Penn looked disheveled and lost on the field. Furthermore, the Quakers were struggling to deal with the loss of midfielder Crissy Book, who was ejected with 22:29 left after receiving her second yellow card for a check to the head. "When Crissy Book got red-carded, it hurt us," Brower said. "She is our best midfield defender, and she was marking out their best kid, No. 8, and that just killed us. We fell apart after that." The Big Green outscored Penn 9-2 after Book's departure, and Dartmouth's No. 8 -- senior Suzy Gibbons -- had one of her four goals and both of her assists in the final 22 minutes. Although Smith and Murray found the net three minutes apart to slice the deficit to 9-4 with 14:49 left, it was all Big Green once the teams broke their halftime huddles. "I think our defense is very strong, and they kind of got things starting in the second half," Dartmouth coach Amy Patton said. "And our attack got into better flow. We just did not have any flow in the first half." Brower, meanwhile, saw the Big Green's pressure and speed in the midfield as the catalyst for her squad's downfall. "Dartmouth communicated better in the midfield doubles," Brower said. "They're faster than us, and we did not keep our composure at all." On defense, Penn struggled to deal with Dartmouth's attack. The Big Green continually slashed their way past the Quakers' back line -- either finishing with goals, or getting fouled and earning free-position shots. Gibbons and fellow Dartmouth senior Amy Zimmer each tallied four goals for the visitors, and the Big Green converted four of nine free-position shots. Penn, though, was unable to find the net on the majority of its chances against Dartmouth's All-Ivy netminder Sarah Hughes, including five from the free-position. While Quakers goalies Alaina Harper and Micah Cunningham recorded only 12 saves on 26 shots on net, Hughes stopped 16 of Penn's 20 attempts. "We weren't putting in the fakes -- we were pretty much shooting it right to her, and she's too good to do that," Brower said. This loss brings the Quakers four-game winning streak to a screeching halt and marks the 10th consecutive time Penn has fallen to the Big Green. A number of the Quakers were visibly distraught after the blowout loss, but the team now knows what it must work on before it faces an even more-talented No. 3 Princeton squad on Wednesday. "Princeton is going to be harder, so we have to clean it up," Smith said. "We have to make better passes and we have to take good shots, or we're going to get killed 25-5 our next game."

Murray, W. Lax set to face Dartmouth

(04/13/01 9:00am)

With under 20 seconds remaining in Tuesday's nailbiting 6-5 victory for the Penn women's lacrosse team, Rutgers was on the attack, looking to tie the game and send it to overtime. And then Kate Murray stopped the Scarlet Knights in their tracks. Well, actually, the Quakers midfielder hit the turf, taking a charge to force a critical Rutgers turnover. Murray then followed this up by playing keep-away to run out the clock, ensuring a dramatic Penn victory. "Kate is always thinking, and she's always directing traffic," Penn attacker Jayme Munnelly said. "She's like the brains of the operations out there." Such clutch plays are becoming the norm for Murray, who leads the Quakers with 18 goals this spring. And as the Quakers (6-5, 2-2 Ivy) ride a four-game winning streak into a crucial Ivy match against No. 10 Dartmouth (7-1, 3-1) at 6 p.m. on Franklin Field tonight, they will need yet another clutch effort from Murray if they are to pull off the upset. "Kate is our quickest attacker," Penn coach Karin Brower said. "She does really well when she starts from the top or on the fast break. And she's getting better on getting her bearing on attack when the defense comes at her." Murray, who has six multi-goal games this year, will need to use every bit of this quickness if the Quakers are to upend Dartmouth. The Big Green's defense has been stingy this spring, yielding an average of only five goals a game in its seven victories. And considering that Dartmouth returns an All-Ivy goalie from a squad that beat Penn, 18-7, last year, things may appear bleak for the Red and Blue. But in the midst of their four-game winning streak -- during which Murray has scored eight goals -- the Quakers feel they have more than a fighting chance. "I think last year going into the game we pretty much knew that we were going to be dominated," said Murray, drenched from the rain after staying late to work on her shooting after Wednesday's practice. "But this year we definitely have a good chance of winning. If we come out like we did at Harvard [Penn led 8-2 at the half], and score right away, the momentum changes." Last April, up in Hanover, N.H., the Quakers netted only seven goals -- including one by Murray. But tonight, if the sophomore has any say in the matter, the Dartmouth net will be peppered with shots all game long. "She's equally good lefty and righty and has one of the harder shots on the team," Brower said. "One-on-one she's really strong, and she has a real quick spin move." Although she acknowledges having a repertoire of moves and cuts that allow her to find the net with ease -- 34 times in 25 collegiate games to be exact -- Murray does not see herself as someone who can singlehandedly take over a game. "I'm not like a dominating type of player and I'm not really a speed demon," Murray said. "I think I'm really more of a smooth player, like butter." Standing only 5'4", the deceptively fast Murray does not appear to be the prototypical goal-scoring machine. Then again, that can work to her advantage, should opponents ignore Murray due to her size and not-very-vocal nature. "Because I'm smaller, I've learned how to play against the taller girls, with my moves and also my hip check -- I learned that in basketball," Murray said. And while this Atlantic Highlands, N.J., native -- and high school lacrosse and soccer captain -- has demonstrated a number of moves on the field, according to teammates, equal space should be given to her moves off the field as well. "She's smooth in everything she does, and she's very dependable," said Munnelly, her roommate, classmate and teammate. "She's a really, really good dancer too. How cool would it be if you were like, 'On and off the field, she's got the moves?'" Munnelly, with nine goals and eight assists, knows a little something about moves, but is quick to defer to Murray, saying of her roommate, "I think she's our go-to girl on the field." In an offense where four players have netted 13 or more goals, though, it might be hard to point to anyone as the Quakers' true go-to player. But if there's one thing the entire team can point to in agreement, its the importance of tonight's game. Penn has not defeated Dartmouth since 1991. "With four wins in a row, we're feeling pretty good about this game," Brower said. "The team knows they have a chance to win."

W. Lax trounces Harvard

(04/09/01 9:00am)

BOSTON -- There was a reason the Penn women's lacrosse team watched Remember the Titans on the bus on the way home from its game on Saturday -- the team had just played like Titans. The Quakers, underdogs on the road, jumped out to an 8-2 halftime lead en route to their biggest victory in several years, an impressive 13-8 drubbing of Harvard (5-4, 0-3 Ivy League). The victory brings Penn's (5-5, 2-2) current winning streak to three and elevated the team to the .500 mark for the first time since before spring break. "This is a huge win for our team," Quakers coach Karin Brower said. "I was very excited that the girls came out to play from the start. This team is young and hasn't learned how to come back really, so it's important to come out early. We did it against Monmouth [a 12-3 win], and we did it again today." As Penn played keep-away to run out the clock in the final minutes and celebrated by singing "The Red and Blue" to its fans after the win, it was clear how much this victory meant. Jumping to a quick six-goal lead, having seven players find the net, and fending off a late comeback are all steps in the right direction for Penn, as the team prepares to face two top-10 squads in the next 10 days. "This win comes at the perfect time. It's going to do wonders for our confidence," said Quakers senior Amy Weinstein, the only player remaining from the last Penn squad to beat Harvard, back in 1998. Buoyed by the aggressive play of Weinstein and Christy Bennett on defense, Quakers sophomore Alaina Harper put forth a strong showing in net. Penn's keeper stopped two free-position shots, and denied the Crimson five times in one furious stretch to preserve an 8-2 lead going into the half. But the real story lay with the Quakers attack, which blitzed a surprised Harvard squad early. Down 1-0, Penn countered by running off six unanswered goals over a 20 minute span. Sophomore Whitney Horton started the barrage with a long-range shot, junior Traci Marabella found the net twice, and Lindsey Cassidy, Jayme Munnelly and Jen Hartman also put it home. A second goal from Hartman and Bennett's first score of the year raised the lead to 8-2, as the Quakers attack found success no matter where the ball was aimed -- high to the top shelf or low to the corners. One of the reasons Penn's attack found such success was that its defense was busy forcing turnovers and bad shots -- and winning the resulting loose balls. "We've been working hard to communicate better on defense, and for the first part of the game we did it good," Harper said. "But for a while in the second half we lost it." In the final 30 minutes, a resilient Crimson squad -- which had beaten No. 7 Boston University last week -- staged a furious comeback. Over a 15 minute period, the home team outscored the Quakers 6-2, cutting the lead to 11-8 with 10:16 to play. Two Kate Murray goals -- the second on a spin move that left a Harvard player on the ground -- were the only offense Penn could muster. "I don't think we ever got scared there," Weinstein said. "Maybe for a couple seconds we knew we had some things to work out -- their top players were going straight to goal, so we had to drop a little more, which we hadn't been doing." After five tense, scoreless minutes, the Quakers finally made something happen. A scramble for a loose ball in the midfield drew Harvard's defense into the fray, and once Marabella came up with the ball for Penn, she looked upfield and saw Hartman all alone, with no defender within 20 yards of her, and only the goalie to beat. Hartman didn't miss, as she bounced a shot in for a 12-8 lead and her third goal of the day. Horton followed with her second score, and from there, up five, Penn was able to simply run out the clock.

Taking charge from the opening draw

(04/05/01 9:00am)

Odds are, Whitney Horton is the first player that you'll notice on the lacrosse field. No, it's not because she is one of only two lefthanders on Penn's squad. And no, it's not because of the red and blue ribbons tied up in her hair. The reason that you'll notice this sophomore is that she's smack in the middle of the field, taking the draw for the Quakers. And that's no small feat, considering how Horton had never taken a draw in her life before her freshman year. "It was pretty random, actually," said Horton, laughing at the thought. "Last year before the William and Mary Tournament, [coach] Karin [Brower] all of a sudden realized that somebody was going to have to take the draws. So she was like, 'Whitney, come out to practice 30 minutes early.' And I think I lost every single draw in the tournament. "But I started figuring it out after that." Indeed, Brower, who was a center herself during her collegiate days, has nothing but praise for Horton -- in her draws, and as a midfielder. "The main thing that I see in Whitney is that she's a real team player, and she distributes the ball really well," said Brower, citing Horton's left-handedness and strength as reasons for having her take the draws. "I think she has a real midfielder mentally." After the faceoff, Horton may not be the most flashy player on the field, but she still remains a vital cog in Penn's offense. As a freshman, Horton was fifth on the Quakers with 11 goals, and just past the halfway point this year, the midfielder is seventh on the team with four scores. "I've never been the type of player to take 10 shots in a game, and Karin always talks to me about that," said Horton, who was out on the field after practice ended yesterday, working with Brower on her shots from the eight-meter line. "And I've had some shots this year that I just haven't scored on." But scoring is not necessarily the only important facet of the lacrosse game. Horton -- along with Penn's other draw specialist, Crissy Book -- is one of three Red and Blue players who goes full-time on both offense and defense. And this after Horton was out of commission and on crutches for five weeks with a sprained ankle in the fall. "She's one of my hardest workers, endurance-wise, and I know that she can go goal-to-goal," Brower said. Early in the second half at Columbia last Friday, Horton showed she could indeed go to goal. The sophomore broke a 3-3 tie just 2:49 after the break and poured in two more goals in Penn's convincing 13-5 victory. Horton, who describes herself as "loud" when she's on the field, can be heard directing the Quakers through the midfield and on attack, and always appears in control when on the field. "Whitney and Christy Bennett are our most vocal leaders," Brower said. "I pulled them aside after the Harvard game last year and told them the team needed some more vocal leadership. And they've done a great job. They've maintained their talking on defense, and they're two of the hardest workers on the field." Perhaps Horton's confidence can be attributed to the 23 collegiate starts in 23 games that she has under her belt. Or it might be that she has full faith in her teammates -- after all, she lives with two of them. Six of Penn's top eight scorers in 2001 are sophomores -- Horton is one, and her housemates Lindsay Smith and Alison Polk-Williams are two others. "I think our class is really close," Horton said. "The sophomore class has such individual personalities and such individual playing styles, and we all play pretty well together. I feel like we just got lucky that we got so many of us in one year." And despite the enormous amount of time Horton puts into lacrosse, her housemates know there's a lot more to her than what can be seen on the field. "Whitney is the most well-rounded person I've ever met -- she does well in sports, she does well in school, she's fun, she's cool," Smith said. "She's a very intense person who works hard at everything she does." After conferring with Smith, teammate Jayme Munnelly agreed, "Whitney is very intense. You should name the article about her 'intense'". Horton's close ties with her team don't end with her housemates -- she played high school lacrosse and soccer with Quakers freshman Christine Perakis. The elder Wilton, Conn., native actually hosted Perakis on a recruiting trip last year, and is one reason why the freshman chose to follow her to Penn. Only a sophomore, Horton has two more years ahead of her. That's at least 35 more games of taking draws, passing to housemates, scoring goals, and listening to her father yell, "Give it to Whitney," from the stands. And it's also two more years of work towards an International Relations major, which Horton got into just a few weeks ago. "I was really excited. I e-mailed my mom and was just like, 'Mom, I got into my major!'" Horton said. "I knew my dream job was to work at the U.N. or something along those lines, so I was trying to find out what major would go well with that. And everyone said that Penn had a good I.R. program. "I came in undecided, but from the minute I got on this campus, I was sort of along the path to applying to become an I.R. major." For the present, though, Horton would just prefer to focus on the task at hand for her team. And that comes in the form of Saturday's game against a beatable Harvard (5-3, 0-2 Ivy) squad. And if Horton has any say in it, Penn will control the game right from her opening draw.

W. Lax picks up pair of big weekend wins

(04/03/01 9:00am)

To say that the Penn women's lacrosse team needed a win would be an understatement. Looking to end a two-game slide, the Quakers (4-5, 1-2 Ivy) picked up not one, but two impressive victories this weekend to move within a game of .500. The Red and Blue recovered from a sluggish start to blow past Columbia, 13-5, on Friday in New York, and trounced Monmouth, 12-3, on Sunday at Franklin Field. "We knew coming in that these were games that were winnable," said Penn midfielder Whitney Horton, who recorded a hat trick at Columbia. "Our goal this week was to go in, play well and win. We thought we played pretty well against Cornell, and that was a [10-5] loss. So our goal for each game was to come out with a win." Displaying considerable poise, the Quakers kept control of the ball the majority of both games, and seemed to get their own rebounds no matter which way they ricocheted. But considering how Penn found the net 25 times in the wins -- after averaging seven goals a game in its first seven contests -- not many of the team's shots were going awry. "We're just trying to move the ball and get that movement toward the cage," said Penn sophomore Crissy Book, who had two goals in each win. "We're cutting through and looking at all the options, instead of standing around and looking at their defense." The outcome of Sunday's match with Monmouth (2-5) was never in doubt. Junior Jenny Hartman put the Quakers up 1-0 five minutes in, and a long shot by Book doubled that lead less than a minute later. After the Eagles cut the lead to 2-1, Penn junior Traci Marabella tallied a hat trick and teammate Lindsay Smith added another score, as the Red and Blue went into the half with a comfortable 6-1 lead. "They definitely took it to us in the very beginning," Monmouth coach Sue Cowperthwait said. "We lost an hour of sleep last night, and it looked like we lost a night's sleep." Penn goalie Alaina Harper made a number of key saves in the first half, but considering the way the Quakers were trapping in the midfield, Harper didn't have to face that many shots. The second half was more Penn, as they forced turnovers and turned them into goals. Book opened the scoring after the break with her second score, and sophomores Jayme Munnelly and Kate Murray combined for Penn's final five goals. "We played great today as a team," Book said. "We were moving the ball a lot better through the midfield." And this ball movement has been a focal point of the Quakers offense throughout the season. "That's what we've been working on all year, to want the ball more," Penn coach Karin Brower said. "Our goal is to get them to move it, and to keep their defense on the move." Against Columbia (1-7, 0-4) on Friday, pushing the Lions' defense was key to Penn's success. Down 2-0 early, Brower called a timeout to get her team in gear. Even so, the score remained deadlocked at three at the half. But Horton broke the tie with the first of her three goals 2:49 into the second frame, and the Quakers kept the ball in their offensive end for nearly all of the first 20 minutes after the break. Penn got rebound after rebound during that stretch, putting home seven shots to go up 10-3 and kill any of Columbia's thoughts of an upset. Just as importantly, the Christy Bennett and Amy Weinstein-led Quakers defense constantly pressured the Lions' attackers, and maintained this effort through Sunday, allowing only eight goals on the weekend.

Friends, now foes, meet in W. Lax game

(03/27/01 10:00am)

The coaching fraternity in the sports world is a relatively small one -- a fact evident today when the Penn women's lacrosse team takes a short road trip north to face Lafayette. When these two squads face off on Metzgar Field in Easton, Pa., at 4 p.m. this afternoon, it will be a reunion of former colleagues -- and now rival head coaches -- Karin Brower and Rebecca Joseph. The pair's paths have crossed a number of times, starting with the 1996 season, when each was an assistant coach at Princeton. Today, however, Brower -- the Quakers' (2-4) second-year coach -- will look to deliver a harsh introduction to the ranks of head-coaching to Joseph, who is in her first campaign as coach of the Leopards (3-3). "This will be the first time that we'll meet on opposite sides, and it'll be interesting," Joseph said. "We're very good friends. I have such a respect and admiration for Karin Brower. She's one person who has been like a mentor to me." This meeting between the pair comes not long after the last, as they talked Friday evening on the sidelines of Franklin Field following Penn's 10-5 loss to Cornell. But even that meeting was a combination of business and pleasure -- Joseph was in town to scout Penn's team. And the parting comment of the new Lafayette coach? A joking jab at Brower: "Monday night, we stop talking." That, however, is unlikely to happen anytime soon. "Rebecca was the second assistant to Princeton when I was there," Brower said. "So we know each other well; we're really good friends." But when asked if this friendship ends on the field, Brower just laughed and said, "Right." When Brower was one of the directors of the Princeton Tigers camp in 1997, Joseph was there on the coaching staff. Ditto for the Princeton Elite and Lawrenceville Girls camps in the same year. And now that Joseph has a team to call her own, she is always observing what her colleague and friend is doing. "I speak to my team about her and what she's done with Penn," Joseph said. "I hope to be able to do the same with my program." On the actual playing field tomorrow, the Quakers and the Leopards seem to have as much in common as their coaches. Both squads have their ranks dominated by underclassmen. Both have defeated Villanova. Both are coming of losses in their last game. And both are rebuilding programs that look to be on the rise in the near future. Although the Quakers topped the Leopards a year ago, 11-8, behind a pair of goals from then-freshmen Whitney Horton and Jayme Munnelly, they know that results means little when they meet tomorrow. "This year, they lost a lot of starters from last year. They have a new coach, and its a whole different team," Brower said. "They're young, and they're going through a lot of stuff that we're going through. We're in the same boat." Both squads are in search of a victory -- Penn is coming off a 10-5 loss to No. 13 Cornell on Friday, while Lafayette fell, 11-6, to Stanford on Sunday. Lafayette remains dangerous at all times, though, thanks to Heather McClelland. The junior attacker has netted 22 goals -- Quakers leader Jenny Hartman has 10 scores -- and could put a kink in Penn's victory plans. "We'll take the intensity and the hustle from [the Cornell game] and try to play just like that," Penn sophomore Christy Bennett said. "We can't go into the next two games [Lafayette and Columbia] thinking that we beat them last year." "We're a lot better than we were last year, but they going to be a lot better too -- that's what happens when you have rebuilding programs. You have nowhere to go but up."

Late Big Red run finishes off W. Lax

(03/26/01 10:00am)

For nine minutes on Friday night, the Penn women's lacrosse team was on the verge of something big. Down 6-5 to No. 13 Cornell in the second half, the Quakers were on the attack, ready to make a major move. But Penn pressured and threatened the Big Red to no avail, as the Quakers came away empty-handed, unable to tie the game. And thanks to a flurry of late tallies, Cornell headed back to Ithaca with a 10-5 win. With the defeat, the Quakers (2-4, 0-2 Ivy League) fell to 0-4 against teams ranked in the Top 20 and once again came away empty when keeping the game within reach down the stretch. "We were nervous, there's no doubt about it," Cornell coach Jenny Graap said. "They put a big scare into us when it was a one-goal game there and Penn had the momentum." Trailing a talented Cornell (5-0, 2-0) squad, 5-3, at the half, the Quakers used a pair of goals by junior attacker Jenny Hartman to cut the deficit to 6-5 with 18:46 remaining and seemed sure to knot the score at any minute. But after 9:05 had elapsed and one Jayme Munnelly shot had deflected off the post, Penn still found itself down, 6-5 -- and the momentum was gone. "I thought our passing and our connections were better, and I think this was one of our best games," Quakers coach Karin Brower said. "But I think at the end, for the last 10 minutes, we got a little flustered and threw the ball away too much." Unlike Penn, the undefeated Big Red capitalized down the stretch. Goals by Cornell's Katie Lavin at 9:41 and Ginny Miles at the 5:52 mark took the wind out of the Quakers' sails and forced Brower to call a time out. Despite taking a number of quality shots, Penn could not find the net in the final 18 minutes. And while it is getting harder and harder for the Quakers to take moral victories away from their defeats, the team did see some positives in the contest. "Today was definitely a step in the right direction," Penn sophomore Christy Bennett said. "We moved the ball through the midfield more quickly and a lot more efficiently than we have been." This ball control was part of Brower's plan heading into the contest, as a means of counteracting Cornell's team speed. Indeed, for the first 12 minutes, Penn neutralized every facet of the visitors' play -- speed and scoring included. Until a Big Red shot found the net 12 minutes in, the game was a scoreless one characterized entirely by stingy defense. "It's good and it's bad when it's scoreless like that," Bennett said. "But I play defense, and I think it was great. Every minute we keep them out, and every time we stop their rush, it builds our confidence and gets us stronger for the next one." Even when Penn found itself down 2-0, the team was able to respond right away. After Quakers sophomore Whitney Horton won the ensuing faceoff -- Cornell's coach estimated her squad lost 13 of 17 faceoffs -- Munnelly streaked down the left side, ran behind the net and scored on a wrap-around shot to make it 2-1. Penn junior Traci Marabella found a wide-open Crissy Book off a free-position chance three minutes later to tie the game, and Penn kept pace with Cornell the rest of the day. Quakers goalie Alaina Harper made 10 saves, but her job was made difficult by the six free-position shots she faced. Cornell converted four of these chances -- given typically for defensive fouls -- much to the chagrin of the Red and Blue, who took exception to a few of the referees calls. Whatever the factors, in the end, the result was a much-too-familiar "L" for the Quakers. "This loss is bittersweet, because I think we know we put a lot more into this game than we put into other games, and we were hustling a lot more," Hartman said. "We put a lot of things together, and I think it's a good game to build off of."

Franklin Field tragedy hits home for Penn lacrosse

(03/22/01 10:00am)

Tragedy can strike in the sporting world, at any level, and at any time. During pregame warmups for a March 10 men's lacrosse game at Franklin Field between the Rochester Institute of Technology and Springfield (Mass.) College, RIT freshman midfielder Todd Bernhardt was struck in the chest by an errant shot, collapsed to the turf and went into cardiac arrest. Bernhardt was revived at the scene before being transported across the street to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The Penfield, N.Y., native spent eight days in critical care but could not recover from his injury. He died just after 8 p.m. on Saturday at age 19. Even though it was not a Penn player involved in this accident, this shocking turn of events has had a profound impact on the Quakers players and coaches. "Obviously this was a great tragedy, and it's going to have an impact -- it effects every single kid in a different way," said Penn men's lacrosse coach Marc Van Arsdale, whose brother was the coach of RIT for 12 years before stepping down prior to this season. "I don't pretend to know how it will affect 43 different kids from our team, from Bucknell, from RIT or the fans who saw it." The Penn men's squad was inside the locker room following a victory over Bucknell at the time of the accident, but was witness to the commotion shortly thereafter. Although no members of the Quakers went to school with Bernhardt, the team as a whole was still hesitant to talk about the death. "It was a tragic accident, and our condolences go out to the family and friends of [Bernhardt]," Penn co-captain Todd Minerley said after the Quakers' victory over Lafayette on Tuesday. For many involved in lacrosse at Penn, this tragedy served as a wake-up call concerning the danger of the sport they play. Helmets, shoulder and rib pads are mandatory in men's lacrosse, and Bernhardt was wearing these during the pregame warmups. But only goalies wear chest pads, and it was in the freshman's unprotected chest that the rapidly-moving ball hit. "You just don't want to think about those things," said Penn women's lacrosse captain Emily Foote, a Daily Pennsylvanian sportswriter. "I think you like to feel like you're a little bit invincible. This is just a reality check, and puts things in perspective." Even though the Quakers' women's squad was on the road at Old Dominion at the time of the accident, and even though women's lacrosse is primarily non-contact in nature, the death certainly resonates across gender lines. "It's just a hard thing to swallow -- just that it's so close to home, and it could have happened to a Penn player, boy or girl," Foote said. "When it does happen, you just say prayers for the family and so that it doesn't happen again." While this tragedy shocked the lacrosse world, the form of cardiac arrest that is brought on by a sudden blow to the chest is not an isolated incident. "This is something that has unfortunately happened in the past," Van Arsdale said. "It happened to a high school goalie on Long Island last year and to a UMass player in practice two years ago. And I witnessed it firsthand with a high school boy 12 years ago in a camp I was running." The game between RIT and Springfield was postponed, and is currently listed on the Tigers' Web site as "cancelled." It is not known whether the match will be replayed.

Yale loss spoils W. Lax' break

(03/20/01 10:00am)

Spring break ended on a cold and dreary note in Philadelphia -- not just in terms of the weather, but for the Penn women's lacrosse team as well. After picking up their first win over La Salle, 12-7, on the Friday before break, the Quakers fell to Old Dominion, 7-3, and Yale, 10-2, to close out the week. The defeat at the hands of the Elis in the Ivy opener hit particularly hard, as this was an unexpectedly large loss to a squad the Quakers (1-3, 0-1 Ivy League) had fallen to by just one goal last season. "The last three games, we've been turning the ball over way too much and we've been down on defense way too much," Penn coach Karin Brower said. "I think we had a chance to win [against Yale]. But our catching and throwing, our basic skills, was what lost this game." On Saturday, behind six goals from freshman Miles Whitman, No. 18 Yale (3-0, 1-0) jumped out to a four-goal halftime lead, controlled the pace of play and won handily. "Miles' assets are her speed and her ability to break through the midfield, and she was able to successfully do that today," Yale coach Amanda O'Leary said. In stark contrast, Penn was unable to work its plays as it would have liked and could not break through the Elis' defense to get high-quality chances. "We were trying to take some longer shots because the Yale defense was really collapsing hard," Penn attacker Jenny Hartman said. "You'd go in, and if you didn't get the shot off at the eight [meter line], then it was too late and you were going to get checked." Even when Penn sophomore Crissy Book fed classmate Lindsay Smith for a score to knot it at one, the Elis retook the lead for good only 34 seconds later. While Penn's clearing passes were fumbled and it shots sailed wide, Yale calmly scored nine consecutive goals. The Quakers went 46 minutes without finding the net until junior Traci Marabella scored with 2:25 left. "I'm deflated," Hartman said. "It was one of those games where we walked off the field, and Traci looked at me and was like 'what happened?'" While the Yale game was the outlier on an otherwise competitive three-game break, each of these matches was marred by sloppy play and turnovers. Playing at No. 16 Old Dominion (3-2) last Monday, the Quakers also came out slow, falling behind 5-0. Even normally sure-handed goalie Alaina Harper (.569 save percentage) was not on her game and was replaced at the half by freshman Emily Childs. A pair of tallies by sophomore Kate Murray and a free-position goal from Marabella cut it to 5-3, but ODU notched the final two scores to hold on for the 'W.' "What happened at Old Dominion was that nobody shot," Brower said. The Quakers attack only seemed to get on track in one contest -- the 12-7 victory over La Salle. Led by five goals from Hartmann and three from Book, six Penn players found the net. Even then, Penn coaches and players alike didn't feel the team had played entirely up to par. "I never questioned that we were going to lose the game, but it was five-all for a long time, and it was really sloppy," Brower said. The Quakers have precious little time to dwell on the past, however, as they face Villanova (1-3) at 4 p.m. at Franklin Field today. Penn defeated the Wildcats, 14-7, in a driving rainstorm last spring, but this year's 'Nova squad has a new coach and a new look. "Villanova is going to be a great opportunity for us to go out and really do the little things we need to do and beat a team," Hartman said. "We really need this one for our confidence."

W. Lax drops a double-overtime thriller

(03/08/01 10:00am)

This one definitely qualifies as a missed opportunity. The Penn women's lacrosse team (0-1) led William and Mary (2-0) most of the way yesterday afternoon, but fell in heartbreaking fashion to the Tribe, 9-8, in double-overtime on Franklin Field. William and Mary junior attacker Colette Chaput knocked a centering pass from behind the cage past Quakers goalie Alaina Harper for the game-winning goal with 0:25 remaining in sudden-death overtime, sending Penn to a defeat in its season opener. "As soon as that goal went into the cage, I screamed at the top of my lungs," Penn tri-captain Traci Marabella said. "I practically burst into tears, I was so upset." The unexpected goal from Chaput brought a hard-fought game to a dramatic conclusion and seemed even to stun her own coach. "That goal wasn't very pretty, but it went in the net," Tribe coach Tara Kelly said. "I don't even know who scored. I didn't think it was going in -- I thought they were going to call a crease violation. It was just a mess." Starting seven sophomores and a freshman, the Quakers demonstrated composure and controlled the flow of the game from the opening face-off. A quartet of goals in a span of 5:40 by Penn junior Jenny Hartman and sophomores Whitney Horton, Chrissy Book and Lindsay Smith put the Quakers ahead, 4-2, just 11 minutes in and forced the visitors to call a timeout. But after trailing 5-3 at the break, in the second half it was the Tribe who came out on fire. Midfielder Allison Evans scored three in a row to put her team back on top, 6-5, forcing Penn to call its own timeout to regroup. The timeout did the trick, and goals from sophomore Kate Murray and Marabella had Penn in the lead and smelling a victory for nearly 10 minutes. But the Tribe equalized with 2:46 left in regulation to force it into extra frames. And after a top-shelf blast by Murray sent the Quakers into a frenzy and gave Penn an 8-7 lead with 2:29 left in the first overtime, the visitors again came through with a score -- retying the game with 1:59 remaining and setting the stage for Chaput's sudden-death heroics in the second OT. But changes in momentum and last-second goals aside, the real story of this game was Harper's play in goal for the Quakers. "That was the best game Alaina has ever played in her college career, so we're very happy with that," Penn coach Karin Brower said. The sophomore only had seen action in relief a year ago, but showed no signs of inexperience in the cage. Time and time again, Harper came up with big saves -- 14 in all -- including four on dangerous free-position shots. "It was a lot easier after I stopped the first shot," Harper said. "I felt pretty good about my play. Obviously I wish I could have stopped one more, but I think everyone has something they wish they could have done differently. But I'm happy with it." Despite Harper's stellar play in net, this counts as an "L" for Penn. But Brower has reason to believe that this game can still act as a building-block for her young squad. "I think that they accepted losses last year, and I think they're very upset at this and realize how close it was," Brower said. "They really wanted it more than I've ever seen."

Senior's final blaze of glory

(03/07/01 10:00am)

Amy Weinstein is dedicated. The only senior on the Penn women's lacrosse team, Weinstein is the sole remaining member of a recruiting class of 11. She has played under three coaches in four years with the Quakers and last year switched to a new position from one she had played her entire life. And through it all, this tri-captain's devotion to lacrosse has been unwavering. But it takes something a little different to illustrate the lengths to which Weinstein is willing to go for the things that matter most to her -- like her need for Bon Jovi tickets. A few weekends ago, the senior drove up to Giants Stadium on a Monday night, slept in her car overnight, and then waited several hours in line for 11th-row tickets to her favorite band's concert this July in Giants Stadium. "She is hysterical -- she's obsessed with Bon Jovi," junior and fellow tri-captain Traci Marabella said. But Weinstein's devotion to this band is but a mere shadow of her dedication to her sport. Upon graduation in May, this psychology major has an internship lined up with the Connecticut franchise of the newly formed Major League Lacrosse -- an outdoor professional men's lacrosse venture. Weinstein already interned on the MLL's inaugural travelling Summer Showcase tour last summer, and is planning to work with lacrosse in some capacity far into the future. But for this Fairfax, Va., native, she'd have it no other way. "Lacrosse is so much of my life," Weinstein said. "It's always been such a part of my life, and I want it to continue. I couldn't imagine life without it." And that love of the game is evident to all around her. "She is a lacrosse-head. She goes to all of the Wings games, she does internships, and every time there's a camp she's there," Marabella said. "She gives so much of herself to the lacrosse team. She's so willing to do what's best for the team." One small way that Weinstein has given of herself for the team has been to host recruits -- most of whom, according to Maravella, end up attending Penn. "I stayed with her when I was a prospective student, and she's the reason why I came to Penn," junior Jen Hartman said. "She took me to all these parties." That's not to say that Weinstein is a regular party-animal -- on the field she's all business. In her first two seasons at Penn, Weinstein was one of the Quakers best attackers. As a sophomore, Weinstein netted 11 goals -- third-best on the team. But that team went 1-12 and suffered through some off-the-field turmoil. When new coach Karin Brower came to Penn last fall, everyone knew changes would be in store. An improved 6-8 overall record in 2000 was a change that was expected. But moving Weinstein from attack to defense probably wasn't. Citing her size, her experience, and the physical nature of her play, Brower thought moving the 5'8" Weinstein was in the team's best interests. And after some initial consternation, Weinstein jumped into the challenge headlong. "My entire lacrosse career had been at midfield or attack," Weinstein said. "And when I was growing up I'd always done track or gymnastics or tennis, which are all individual sports. "So most other girls knew some general defensive strategies from other sports, but I didn't know really how to get out of a pick or other defensive techniques." She watched, learned and persevered, and with 14 starts at defense from last spring under her belt enters the 2001 campaign as the leader of Penn's back line. "She's very intense in her defense," Brower said. "And she has an attack mindset on defense that a lot of defenders don't have." And there is no doubt that Weinstein's teammates realize her importance to the squad. "She's an incredible defender and has the best check on the team," junior tri-captain and Daily Pennsylvanian sportswriter Emily Foote said. "She gets the job done quietly and better than it needs to be done." But Weinstein isn't quiet all the time -- take her job last fall for instance. Interning with the Athletic Department, Weinstein was responsible for sling-shotting T-shirts into the Franklin Field crowd every time the Penn football team scored. If you saw her then, there's an equally good chance that you've seen her in any number of University publications, lacrosse stick in hand. Weinstein, though, thinks the photos in all these publications seem to look the same. "It think it was the one time they took a photo of me with the ball in my stick, and they use it everywhere," Weinstein said. "It's in the student-athlete guide, it's on the schedule card, it's on the media guide..." As the only senior on her young team, Weinstein admits that, at times, it's been hard for her to relate to her teammates. As a captain and leader, though, Weinstein puts that aside, her love of the sport outweighing the constant challenges she faces. Overcoming a knee injury in the preseason that limited her practice for several weeks, Weinstein is now at full strength and says she is "excited and optimistic" about the season. Yes, even more excited than she is about those 11th-row Bon Jovi tickets.

Quakers toppled by Brown, storm back to defeat Yale

(03/05/01 10:00am)

NEW HAVEN, CONN. -- Some things are naturally confusing, like nuclear physics or the weather patterns of Philadelphia in winter. Then there's the Penn men's basketball team, which has managed to pull surprise after surprise seemingly out of nowhere. A night after being thoroughly outplayed in the second half of an 85-77 loss at Brown, the Quakers (12-16, 9-4 Ivy League) responded with an utter shellacking of Yale, going up by as many as 32 points en route to a 65-38 victory. And a night after going 2-for-10 from three-point range in Providence, R.I., Penn senior Lamar Plummer hit 5-of-8 from behind the arc in New Haven to set the Quakers' single-season record for three-pointers, with 93. Princeton swept the Bears (14-12, 8-5) and the Elis (10-16, 7-6), so Penn now trails the Tigers by one game with one contest remaining. For the Quakers to pull out an Ivy League title, they must defeat the Tigers (15-10, 10-3) on Tuesday at Jadwin Gymnasium, and then again in a potential Ivy playoff next weekend. After the bipolar play of the Quakers this weekend, though, whether Penn can advance past Tuesday is questionable. Penn has struggled on the road in the Ivies, and in facing five pumped-up Bears players on Friday -- not to mention 2,500 boisterous Bears fans in the first sellout in Brown history -- the Quakers had to scratch and claw for every basket and rebound. The teams traded the lead 10 times in the first 20 minutes, with neither squad going up by more than six points. But as the game wore on, Brown began to pull away, as the Quakers were harassed into 14 turnovers and were out-rebounded, 42-38. "We didn't do a good job of checking them out on the boards..." Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "We had a couple of easy basket opportunities that we didn't take advantage of." Penn was down 38-37 at the half, but Brown's Mike Martin hit two threes early in the second frame to put the Bears up 48-42, and Penn never really got back into the game. Martin scored 17 points in the second half, including eight free throws without a miss in the final minute. "Mike Martin had been struggling a little bit with his shooting," Brown coach Glen Miller said. "But he stepped up and hit free throw after free throw. His play off the bench the past six to eight games has been something special." Freshman guard Jeff Schiffner provided a spark off the bench for Penn with 15 points, and sophomore forward Ugonna Onyekwe racked up an impressive, but quiet, 17 points and 14 rebounds. But this was not enough for the Quakers. Penn went a pitiable 8-for-19 from the free-throw line, was out-rebounded by a Brown squad whose tallest player was 6'7" and was unable to stop the penetration of Bears forward Earl Hunt and guard Omari Ware. Penn point guard David Klatsky finished with seven points, seven assists and four turnovers. The sophomore, however, forced lob passes inside and seemed afraid to shoot from the perimeter. When all was said and done, for the third time this winter, students of an opposing Ivy school rushed the court to celebrate an upset win over Penn. In contrast to the problems that Friday exposed, Saturday's game showed Penn's potential. Onyekwe, coming off the bench behind senior Josh Sanger, dominated by scoring 16 points on a variety of jumpers, fast-break lay-ups and leaners off the glass. Penn forward Koko Archibong scored in double-figures for the second consecutive night, and Plummer hit five three-pointers to push him past Matt Maloney's old school record for three-pointers in a season. "I don't even know which shot was the one for the record," said Plummer, who seemed more impressed with Penn's defense than his record. "The main thing we did was play good defense... Yesterday I didn't do too well of a job of guarding, and neither did the rest of the team, so that's why we lost." Plummer contained Yale's leading scorer, sophomore guard Chris Leanza, who could muster only one point. Leanza was not the only Yale player held in check. The Elis went 13:39 without a basket in the first half, turning the ball over six times in that stretch. The Quakers out-rebounded the Elis 44-35, as they stormed out to a 35-13 halftime lead. Penn extended this margin to 50-18 with 13:21 remaining after threes from Plummer and Archibong. All of Penn's players saw action in the final minutes. A Jekyll-and-Hyde team, Penn's dominating win at Yale is far out-shadowed by its untimely defeat at Brown. A loss away from a spring break free of basketball, the Quakers must now get ready for Princeton -- possibly twice. "We're going to prepare for Princeton as soon as we get on the bus," Plummer said after the Yale victory. "We're going to work hard and watch a lot of film. It should be a good matchup, and hopefully we can beat them on Tuesday and then play them again."

Conference tourney or not?

(03/01/01 10:00am)

March Madness is here, so you know what that means... Actually, if you're in the Ivy League, you probably don't know what it really means. When the Pac-10 voted last October 23rd to bring back a conference basketball tournament starting in 2002, it left the Ancient Eight with the distinction of being the only Division I league without a postseason bash. There are a number of reasons for the exclusivity of the Ivies in this matter, and while it appears that the league's policy will not change anytime soon, there is a good amount of sentiment among fans, players and coaches in favor of creating an Ivy tournament. * Two years ago, an informal vote was taken among the Ivy basketball coaches on the issue of a postseason tournament -- and the result was 7-to-1 in favor of holding one, with the lone dissenting voice coming from then-Princeton coach Bill Carmody. This season, during one of the most competitive Ivy races of the past decade, the opinion of these sideline leaders has not changed. Seven of the eight coaches expressed a desire to see a postseason Ivy Tournament; Princeton coach John Thompson III could not be reached for comment. "I really wish the policy would change, if only for the players," 10th-year Dartmouth coach Dave Faucher said. "I think a tournament would be great, so that we'd really be a part of college basketball." Former Penn assistant and current first-year Cornell coach Steve Donahue echoed Faucher's view. "I would love to see an Ivy League Tournament," Donahue remarked. "I think we're in this business to help out kids, and it's the right thing to do for the majority of the kids at all the institutions. The excitement of playing for a tournament is something they'll never forget." On another front, several coaches shared the feeling that while the majority of schools are pro-tournament, Penn and Princeton are maneuvering to prevent a postseason tourney to protect their own best interests. "It would be a positive if there was a post-season tourney, but I don't see it changing" said Armond Hill, a sixth-year coach at Columbia and former player at Princeton. "It's because there are certain teams that don't want it to change." Considering how 37 of the past 41 Ivy champions have called Old Nassau or West Philadelphia home, one could indeed argue that a tournament -- in which Penn or Princeton could lose and miss the NCAAs -- might not be in the best interest of those two schools. But Penn coach Fran Dunphy, in his 12th year at the helm of the Quakers, is more than willing to give an Ivy tournament a shot. "My opinion has always been the same -- I would like to do what's good for the League," said Dunphy, the Ivy's senior coach. "A conference tournament is good for seven teams, and not so good for the eighth team that wins the regular season. So what's good for the League as a whole -- and in this case seven teams -- would be agreeing that a tournament would be great. "I think that gives logic to having a conference tournament. So I would like to see it. I would like to see us try it." The view from one of the Quakers who is actually on the court, however, is a little different. "The last couple of years, being on Penn, when you win the League in the regular-season like we have, you don't want the conference tournament," Quakers captain Geoff Owens said. "But a full season is a fair assessment usually of who's the best team." This view, though, is not limited to players on the perennial Ancient Eight front-runners. "I'm kind of in the middle on this right now," Harvard captain Dan Clemente said. "The past few years I've always wanted a tournament. I always thought that would be awesome, to give guys a chance to make something happen and to get a bid. "But people argue a good point, in saying why give guys a chance that haven't been working hard all year doing this back-to-back night thing." * Regardless of how the players and the coaches weigh in on this matter, though, they ultimately play no role in determining the outcome of this issue. That distinction begins with the Ivy athletic directors and ends with the Ivy presidents. If a change in League athletic policy was proposed -- such as creating a tournament -- a simple majority vote (five votes) would be needed among the A.D.'s to institute this change. If the proposal passed the A.D. level, then three-quarters (six votes) of Ivy Presidents would have to concur for the proposal to take effect. In 1999, the League's Athletic Directors had an extended meeting where they discussed the status of postseason play -- not just for basketball, but across all sports. The final unanimous agreement reached in that round of talks was that for double round-robin sports -- men's and women's basketball as well as women's volleyball -- there would be no postseason tourney. There were a number of reasons for this vote, according to Jeff Orleans, the Executive Director of the Council of Ivy Group Presidents -- the most compelling one being that having to play all other Ivy teams twice over the course of the year was enough to determine the squad most deserving of the NCAA bid. "The real issue is the double round-robin is rigorous," Orleans said. "For some of the A.D.'s, it was the fact that a tournament would be financially unsuccessful. For others, it was more a reward for winning the double round-robin during the season." Indeed, Penn Athletic Director Steve Bilsky -- a former player for the Quakers -- agreed with this last assessment. "Money is not the issue, and a second bid is not the issue, so you really have to look at it solely as what should be the criteria for who is the best team to represent the Ivy League," Bilsky said. "And what's the better criteria for selecting that team -- a three-day tournament, played on three consecutive days, or 14 games over the course of two months?" Still, several Ivy coaches voiced the opinion that their own A.D.'s would be in favor of a tourney, despite the results of the 1999 vote. But this issue is rendered moot on the Athletic Director level, as both Orleans and Bilsky conceded it would be difficult for a policy change to gain the approval of the necessary six members of the President's council. * Whether or not the current policy will be changed is one issue; whether a tournament would flourish or help the League if implemented is another altogether. "A lot of conferences that have tournaments do it for two reasons," Bilsky said. "One is they're going to get more than one team in anyways, so they do it maybe to get a bubble team in; and two is they make a lot of revenue, both between the television exposure and they usually have it at places where they have big attendance. "And neither of those apply to the Ivy League." Indeed, the Ivies have never received a second bid to the Big Dance, and have only sent a second squad to the NIT five times in 46 years. By comparison, one league that does have a postseason tournament -- Drexel's American East Conference -- has never received a second bid in its 18 years of existence. Moreover, in 17 of those 18 years, one of the top two seeds won the tourney -- blunting the argument from lower-division Ivy squads that their only path to the NCAAs lies in a League tournament. Similarly, external factors are not exactly helping the call for a postseason tourney. Competing in a media market with the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and several smaller conferences, the Ivies could expect at most one game -- the final -- to be televised. And considering how DirecTV dropped its 'Ivy League Friday Nights' offerings after two years, that can't even be guaranteed. "It's hard to tell how a tournament would turn out," Orleans said. "It would not be at the level of the Atlantic-10, at least at the beginning. And I think you'd have to go into it with the idea that you'd run a tangible deficit, at least for the first few years." On the flip side of the coin, however, lies a competitive season like this one. Now, when more than two teams are in contention down the stretch, a tournament would only increase excitement, guaranteeing fan support and profitability for the venture. "If you look at this weekend, and the excitement that it's bringing to four schools, and you think about how that would be for all the schools, a tournament would be a real positive," second-year Yale coach James Jones said. All involved admit that making the tournament viable would be tough. Issues of how many teams to invite and where to hold it are sure to spark debate. And moreover, one cannot ignore the fact that the Pac-10 initially gave up on a tourney in the 1980s because it was financially unsuccessful. But the potentially beneficial intangibles that come with a tournament are quite hard to ignore. "It would help promote Ivy League basketball and would put us on par with other Division I schools," Donahue said."I think not having a tournament hurts us in recruiting, I think it hurts us in fan recognition, and I think it hurts us in appreciation for basketball on the Ivy campuses." * In the end, it all boils down to the fact that the eight Ivy Athletic Directors feel a post-season tourney would detract from the rigors of the 14-game, double-round-robin regular season. While coaches might not agree, the A.D.'s continue to stand by the argument that the unique and taxing Friday-Saturday road trip schedule gives a better indication of a team's true ability than a tournament ever could. Revenues, exposure and academics are not what would make a tournament untenable. The main obstacle is the fact that many do not see a tournament as the best way to determine which Ivy team is best suited for the league's sole NCAA berth. For some, that way is three days in March, when anything can happen. For others, that is the previous two months, when everything does happen.

M. Hoops' seniors end Palestra career

(02/26/01 10:00am)

In a season full of ups and downs, of close calls and near misses, it was only fitting that in the final home game of the 2001 season, the three seniors of the Penn men's basketball team would propel the Quakers to their largest victory of the year. Playing in their final contest at the Palestra, Lamar Plummer tied his career-high with 23 points, Geoff Owens recorded a double-double and Josh Sanger pulled down five rebounds, as Penn trounced Harvard by 23 points. For Plummer, this success was anything but guaranteed. A question mark heading into this winter, Plummer came off the bench as a freshman and sophomore and missed the final 23 games of last season for personal reasons. Now, the senior is the Quakers' leading scorer and is on pace to break Penn's single-season record for three-pointers. And Plummer's offensive reemergence could not have come at a better time. After a pair of disastrous games in New York last weekend that saw him go 2-for-20 from the field, Plummer reversed course and was the game-high scorer against both Dartmouth and Harvard. Yet even after Saturday's win, it seemed that Plummer didn't quite realize that his four years in the Palestra had come to an end. "I looked at Geoff today, and I watched as it hit him, and I don't think it really hit me yet," Plummer said. "I really don't have any sentiments right now. I think it'll all set in after we hopefully win the Ivy League championship and after all that is over and done." For Owens, by contrast, this moment was a long time coming. Now in his fifth year at Penn, the 6'11" center is the heart and soul of this Quakers squad. "Big" missed his entire sophomore season with a heart condition and has toughed his way through a broken jaw, shin splints and foot injuries to become one of the most fearsome competitors in the Ivies. And it's clear that Owens has picked up a few things along the way -- as evidenced by the fact that the starting centers for Dartmouth and Harvard combined for only three points and six rebounds before they each fouled out. More than a little credit for their limited success goes to Owens. "It was good to get [Sigafoos] out of there," Owens said of the 6'11" Crimson center, who fouled out in six minutes of play. "He was a little wild with his arms, throwing his arms everywhere, and I think I got him on a couple of fouls by acting a little bit, because he was a little bit wild. "That's what I was trying to do, to use a little bit of my experience to get him in foul trouble." Yet even after a weekend that saw Owens record his 13th career double-double and lead Penn to two huge wins, the captain remains focused on the final few games, not the recent past. "Obviously, like Lamar said, we were so focused on winning the games this weekend that while it crossed my mind that it was senior night, I never really thought about it," Owens said. "And I guess after the game when I was walking off, I kind of looked up and realized it. This was my last game, and that this was a great place to play. "But we still have a job to do, and three more games to win." Not to be lost in the shuffle on Saturday were the five rebounds pulled down by Sanger, who has plugged along, largely unnoticed, for the past four seasons. Ever since he was thrust into the spotlight as a freshman, starting in his first college game in place of the injured Owens, Sanger has been a tireless contributor to the Red and Blue. And while he has seen his playing time decrease over the past three years, the 6'8" senior showed he can fight with the best of them inside, helping shut down Harvard's Dan Clemente early on in Saturday's victory. "I though Josh Sanger gave us nice energy early in the game guarding Clemente, who obviously had hurt us badly up in Boston," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. All three have had their ups and downs in Red and Blue uniforms over the past four -- or five -- years. So it was fitting that these seniors closed out their home careers at the Palestra on a high note with two convincing victories.

M. Hoops tries to get back on track in N.Y.

(02/16/01 10:00am)

Trying to put memories of Tuesday's uninspired defeat at the hands of archrival Princeton behind them, the Penn men's basketball team hits the road this weekend in an unfamiliar position -- second place. The Quakers (8-14, 5-2 Ivy League) left campus after a short practice last night and headed north for a crucial two-game swing through New York. With half of the Ivy League slate behind them, and with Princeton now seated squarely in front of them, the Red and Blue have no room for error at Cornell and Columbia. "Hopefully we'll come out as an angry team," said Penn senior captain Geoff Owens, who netted 15 points in Tuesday's loss. "In game situations, it seems like we play better when we're angry and when we play like our backs are against the wall." While it's not quite the ideal scenario for the Quakers to have to play with their backs against the wall at this late stage in the season, that is nonetheless where the team finds itself. And though Penn handily defeated Cornell, 64-49, and Columbia, 65-44, in early January, both of these squads will no doubt look at the success that Princeton enjoyed on Tuesday for pointers on how to take down the Quakers this time around. "I think we're going to face some matchup zone with Cornell -- and we've faced matchup before," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "[Against Princeton] we changed to attack it in a certain way, and had some opportunities in the first half, which we didn't make any shots with. "And then the second half, we made a couple of adjustments and ran a little different offensive look and got some better looks at it. But when people have those open shots, we've got to knock them down." For whatever reason, the Quakers have struggled in their last few games against relatively weak Ivy league squads. Penn forward Ugonna Onyekwe did not make a basket for the first 33 minutes against Princeton. The Quakers vaunted front line was outrebounded badly by a smaller Tigers squad. And outside gunner Lamar Plummer has fallen off a bit since a hot start; he went just 2-for-12 from the field on Tuesday night. Those kind of numbers will just not cut it if Penn expects to sweep this weekend's contests and keep pace in the Ivy race. Tonight's matchup against Cornell (5-15, 2-6) appears on paper to be the easier game of the weekend, but nothing can be taken for granted with former Penn assistant Steve Donahue now manning the opposing sideline as the Big Red's head man. While Cornell's offense is shooting an anemic 38.8 percent from the field -- worst in the Ivies -- their lineup is still potent with three-year starters Ray Mercedes and Wallace Prather. Mercedes, a senior forward who led Cornell to an upset victory over Penn three years ago, has been spotty at best this winter. The captain's 12.4 points per game leads the Big Red, but his erratic shooting has led him to the bench several times. Another force that Penn will have to contend with is freshman Ka'ron Barnes. The six-foot guard threw down 14 points off the bench for the Big Red in his first game against the Red and Blue earlier in the season. Following a five-hour bus ride from Ithaca to Manhattan, the Quakers will face a hungry Columbia (6-13, 3-5) squad in the back end of this road trip. The Lions suffered two gut-wrenching defeats at the buzzer last weekend, which could provide their youthful squad with added motivation against Penn. Despite 31 points from junior forward Craig Austin, Columbia lost in double-overtime, 80-78, to Yale last Saturday. That loss -- on the heels of a 60-59 loss to Brown that saw the Bears convert three free throws with no time on the clock for the win -- has driven the Lions down to the bottom half of the Ivies. "I honestly have no idea how we'll rebound from these losses," Columbia coach Armond Hill said. "This was just a very difficult weekend." Indeed, the past two weeks have been tumultuous ones in the Ancient Eight. Winners have become losers, and vice versa, as four teams are within striking distance of the Ivy crown. While Penn has defeated Cornell in their past five matchups, and topped Columbia in 17 consecutive meetings, no game can be taken for granted from here on out. "There's great parity in the league this year, and I think that is cause for any one team beating any other team at any time," Dunphy said. "Columbia could have come away from last weekend two-and-oh, instead they're oh-and-two. Still, they're playing well enough to win, and you've got to keep that in mind." Much has been made of the fact that Penn is now in the exact same position that it found itself two years ago at this time -- when the Quakers ran the table, defeated Princeton in their second meeting and went to the NCAA Tournament. And if Penn is to make history repeat itself, it has to begin this weekend with a pair of important road victories.