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SHALL WE DANCE? The Quakers clinch an Ivy title and NCAA berth

(03/06/00 10:00am)

For the second time in as many years, the Penn men's basketball team is champion of the Ivy League and headed to the NCAA Tournament. The Quakers swept this weekend's games against Brown and Yale to capture the title, enabling the Red and Blue to cut down the nets at home in the Palestra for the first time in six years. "I think it's a job well done by a bunch of kids who have worked hard all year long," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "I'm happy for the seniors in particular, but for the group as a whole. It's just a culmination of a long, hard fight." And while the wins were a total team effort, it was the seniors, playing in their last regular season weekend of their careers, who stole the show. On Friday against the Bears, Penn fourth-year center Geoff Owens -- who will petition the Ivy League for a fifth year of eligibility since he missed his sophomore season with a medical condition -- had perhaps his best game as a Quaker. Owens scored a career-high 22 points, grabbed 11 boards and tied a personal high with six blocked shots. The 6'11" Owens had his way with players in the Brown frontcourt that were five inches smaller than he is. The Quakers started off dominating Brown, sinking nine of their first 12 shots from the field. Penn jumped out to a 23-7 lead featuring solid play from the inside and outside. Both Owens and forward Ugonna Onyekwe had points in the paint, which enabled guards Matt Langel and Michael Jordan to get open looks at three-pointers. This balanced attack helped the Quakers to take a 46-26 lead at the half. The second stanza began with a 12-5 Penn run, and the Red and Blue never looked back, eventually beating the Bears, 85-62. Owens might have had a career night, but the Penn co-captains were impressive as well. Jordan was 4-for-7 from three-point land, scoring 19. He also grabbed 10 rebounds. Langel hit on 4-of-10 from beyond the arc and dished out seven assists. Both backcourt players credit Owens with opening up the offense as well as improving the defense. "The difference playing defense from my sophomore to my junior year was huge knowing that there was a legitimate seven-footer back there who was such a defensive presence," Langel said. "We know we have a post player and that adds to our team offensively as well." While Friday night was an important win, the weekend's focus was on Saturday against the Elis. With a win against Yale, the Quakers would clinch the Ivy title. A loss meant that Penn needed a victory on Tuesday against Princeton to gain a berth into the NCAA Tournament. Clearly, the Quakers wanted to take care of things this weekend. Penn jumped out to a quick 12-2 lead, highlighted by Frank Brown, who scored six of the Quakers' first 12 points. Brown had a quiet night Friday, but dominated against Yale, hitting 6-of-12 from the field and all three of his free throw attempts. "Frank was unbelievable early," Dunphy said. "He came through shot after shot when we were struggling a bit. I am real happy to see him step up and see him end his career the way he is ending it." Despite the Quakers shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half, the Elis managed to claw back and stay within eight at 29-21 at halftime. Both teams came out hot after intermission. Yale guards Chris Leanza and Onaje Woodbine hit two three-pointers each to bring the Elis within two points with just over 13 minutes left in the contest. "I thought it was close the whole game," Yale coach James Jones said. "We kept fighting. The game was never out of hand. I thought we had a chance to do some good things, and if a call or two goes our way, we might have had a different result." The Quakers were able to counter the Yale attack, as Jordan stormed right back down the court to nail a three. Onyekwe then stole the ball on Yale's next trip down the court, was fouled and sunk 1-of-2 free throws. After another Yale turnover, Onyekwe was fouled again and this time hit both from the foul line. Owens then followed that score with a tip-in off a Langel miss to put the Quakers up by 10. Penn never looked back from there. "We got a couple of good stops and pushed the ball down and scored," Jordan said about the series of plays that stopped the Elis run. "Ugonna had a basket and a foul; Frank made a couple of shots; the guys on the team just made some plays." With about five minutes left in the game, when it was clear that the Quakers would be victorious, the 5,706 in attendance began to chant "Ivy Champs." As the final buzzer sounded, the fans stormed the court to celebrate with the players, something most fans could not do last year when Penn won the title away at Princeton. Moments later, the team returned from the locker room sporting "Back 2 Back Ivy Champions" T-shirts. The crowd gathered around the basket as each player climbed a ladder to cut down and take a piece of the net. The last player, Jordan, the odds-on favorite to win Ivy League Player of the Year award, jumped up and sat on the basket prompting the crowd to chant "MVP." "It's a great feeling to cut down the net in front of the Palestra faithful," Jordan said. "We're just happy they were here to enjoy it with us." Despite the team reaching the goal of becoming Ivy champions, the Quakers still have their hearts set on beating Princeton tomorrow night at the Palestra. A win would make the Red and Blue undefeated in the Ivy League for the first time since 1995.

M. Lax: The young, the fast and the hopeful

(03/01/00 10:00am)

Penn lost its top defenders, but its attack may b e the Ivy League's best While the Penn men's lacrosse team is long on athleticism and talent, some parts of it are short on experience. But coach Marc Van Arsdale, who is going into his fourth year at Franklin Field, doesn't really seem to mind. "I'd much rather have this squad than slow guys with years of experience," he said. Although many of the Quakers' key players from the attack and midfield return, Penn lost some top defenders and their goalie -- four-year starter Matt Schroeder -- to graduation. "Matt is clearly the biggest replacement we have to make," Van Arsdale said. "He not only was a great goalie, but he ran the defense and cleared the ball well." While Schroeder will be sorely missed, Van Arsdale and the Quakers are confident that either sophomore John Carroll or freshman Ryan Kelly will be a more than suitable replacement. Both contenders for the position have different talents and both played a half each in the Quakers two preseason scrimmages -- wins over Towson and Hobart. The defense is another area where the Quakers were hurt by graduation, as both Ziggy Majumdar and Brett Bodner were seniors last year. Majumdar was a second team All-Ivy selection for the 1999 season, while Bodner competed in the North-South Senior All-Star game. Despite the loss of these stars, Van Arsdale maintains that this year's defense -- anchored by senior Bill Fowler -- will be just as strong. Fowler has missed almost all of the preseason with a hamstring injury, but with his return, the defense will look to gel. "I think we're going to be more aggressive defensively," Van Arsdale said. "Team defense was the strength of last year's team. In terms of cohesion, though, because of Fowler's injury, it may take a little longer for the team to group together." As far as the attack and midfield are concerned, the Quakers have become even stronger after last year's impressive showing on the offensive side of the ball. The team's leading scorer, Pete Janney, has improved on the attack every year and looks to make this year, his senior season, his best. Janney was first team All-Ivy last year and led the Quakers with 37 goals and 53 points. "Pete came into a good situation his freshman year playing next to two veterans," Van Arsdale said. "He immediately brought the ability to score goals, but each successive year he has been able to make his game more complete." Playing next to Janney will be junior Todd Minerley. Minerley led the team in assists last year and is basically the quarterback of the attack , starting most of the plays. In this season's scrimmages, Minerley has had five goals and seven assists, and Van Arsdale is looking for him to make a splash this year. "Todd is really playing with a good understanding right now and with more confidence," he said. "And he's really going to benefit from the defense focusing on Pete [Janney]." Sophomore Peter Scott is another key to the Quakers' attack. Scott made real contributions as a freshman last year, scoring 11 goals and this year he will have an increased role. Sophomore Scott Solow adds depth to the talented attack. Solow played in the midfield last season, but played attack in high school and is more comfortable at that position. The midfield is certainly the most crowded position on the team. The Quakers return nine players, along with one transfer and an exciting freshman. The key newcomers are Adam Solow, Scott's brother, who arrives at Penn after playing with Dartmouth for two years. Alex Kopicki is Penn's freshman with the most potential. The key returning midfielders are impressive as well. Senior Billy Reidy sat out all of 1999 with a knee injury and hopes to make a big return this season after being the Quakers' top face-off specialist in 1998. Junior Bill Sofield, however, had a breakthrough year in 1999 after stepping in for Reidy. Right now, Sofield will take the majority of face-offs, of which he won more than 60 percent last year. The Quakers open the regular season this Saturday against Notre Dame, hoping to improve on their 1999 overall record of 6-8 and 2-4 in the Ivies. Last year, Penn got off to a fast start, winning five of its first six games. The Red and Blue cooled off quickly, however, losing seven of their last eight, including losses in their final four contests. While two wins in the Ivy League is certainly not acceptable by the team's standards, their defeats to Princeton, Cornell and Harvard were by only one goal each. This year, Van Arsdale predicts that Princeton will once again lead the pack in the Ancient Eight. "Princeton has more than anybody in the league still, but the gap has closed," he said. "After Princeton, it's a crapshoot, which will make for a very competitive league season."

Notebook: Kapetanovic sees playing time increased

(02/23/00 10:00am)

Oggie Kapetanovic has played more for Penn since improving his defense and scoring 14 points at Yale. The loudest cheers resonating from the Palestra at the Penn men's basketball games this weekend did not come from a Ugonna Onyekwe dunk. And they didn't come from a Matt Langel three-pointer either. Instead, Penn fans were the most boisterous with 1:51 left in the Columbia game on Saturday. It was at this time that Fran Dunphy subbed in Chris Ward, a junior varsity player for four years, who saw the first varsity action of his college career. Dunphy could afford to let Ward and the rest of the reserves play because the Quakers were ahead of the Lions by a whopping 28 points. The bench players made good use of this opportunity, playing good defense and preserving Penn's lead. "We look at each and every possession as being important," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "And the reserve players did just fine at the end of the game." · Another reserve, backup forward/center Oggie Kapetanovic, has been very impressive for the Quakers over the last few games. Three weeks ago, Kapetanovic, a junior transfer from Brown, scored a career-high 14 points against Yale, and in the last three games he has seen his minutes increase at a steady pace. "I'm glad I'm playing more," Kapetanovic said. "I've been concentrating on my defense in practice and been working really hard." Last week at Princeton, Kapetanovic checked in for Geoff Owens with 16:02 left in the first half after Owens picked up two quick fouls. Kapetanovic had the unenviable task of guarding 6'11" center Chris Young, and he defended him successfully. In the crucial first 20 minutes, Young managed just five points while Kapetanovic was guarding him. For the game, Kapetanovic had four rebounds, including three offensive boards, and one steal in 18 minutes of action. He repeated this effort on Friday against Cornell, pulling down four more boards and recording another steal to go along with four points in 15 minutes of play. His play improved even more on Saturday as Kapetanovic scored nine points in 16 minutes. · With the big offensive outputs in both games over the weekend, the Red and Blue now average 69 points a game, which is tops in the Ivy League. In fact, the Quakers' stats are best in most offensive and defensive categories in the Ancient Eight. The Quakers beat their opponents by an average of 19.5 points per game and hold them to a league-low 49.6 points a game. While both the Big Red and the Lions scored higher than this average, the Quakers are still safely on top of the league. · Freshman Ugonna Onyekwe was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week for the third time this season. Onyekwe averaged 12.5 points and five rebounds against Cornell and Columbia. The 6'8" forward thrilled the home crowd all weekend with rim-rattling dunks and sharp 11-of-19 shooting from the field. · This coming weekend, Penn travels to Harvard and Dartmouth. When these two foes visited the Palestra two weeks ago, the Quakers won both games easily, beating the Crimson 75-52 and the Big Green 75-61. The key to Penn's success against Harvard was their containment of Dan Clemente, the Crimson's star forward. Against the Quakers, Clemente had a horrible night, hitting on 1-of-9 field goal attempts and scoring only two points. Dartmouth's stars had it a little better. Greg Buth, who is third in the league in scoring, had 18 points against the Red and Blue. Big Green forward Shaun Gee had 13. The Quakers know they must defend these players better or they could face big trouble in Hanover. "For both Buth and Gee, we have to limit their shot opportunities," co-captain Langel said. "They are both very talented players and we have to do our best to limit the amount of touches they get on the ball." · With his 1,506th point on Saturday, Michael Jordan became the fifth leading scorer in Quakers history. He passed Stan Pawlak for this achievement and needs only 12 points to surpass Jerome Allen for fourth place. Ironically, Jordan tied a career-low for minutes played with 20 against Columbia. He received his fourth personal foul on a technical foul with just 12 minutes to go in the second half and did not re-enter the game as Dunphy emptied his bench. Jordan has played 20 minutes only two other times in his career at Penn. One was the second game of his freshman year and the other was on Valentine's Day, 1997.

Front-running M. Hoops extends win streak to 11

(02/21/00 10:00am)

The Quakers held on to beat Cornell, then had little trouble in a rout of Columbia. The last time the Penn men's basketball team started its Ivy campaign with nine straight wins was in the 1994-95 season. After league wins against Cornell and Columbia this weekend, however, the Quakers (16-7, 9-0) are once again undefeated in the Ivies after nine games for the first time since Hootie and the Blowfish ruled the charts. But it wasn't easy, as the Quakers got off to a somewhat rocky start against Cornell on Friday. The Big Red have given Penn problems the last two times the teams have faced off. Earlier in the season, the Quakers narrowly escaped from Ithaca, N.Y., with a 50-47 victory. Last year at the Palestra, the game also went down to the wire, with Penn eking out an 83-81 victory. Throughout much of Friday's contest it looked as if this game would be just as close as the previous two. "We, for the most part, played one of our better basketball games," Cornell coach Scott Thompson said. "I was pleased with our defense early, but we had a few breakdowns which cost us against a very good basketball team." The Big Red's defense was tenacious throughout much of the game, keeping Penn's front line from scoring on the inside. "They did a pretty good job fronting us, and we got a little stagnant without the ball," Penn center Geoff Owens said. Cornell's defense also contributed to a run in the beginning of the second half when it looked as if the Big Red might take a lead. The period started with Penn in front by nine. A driving layup by Cornell forward Keirian Brown cut the lead to seven. Cornell forward Ray Mercedes hit one-of-two free throws and followed that up with a layup to make it a five-point deficit. A Cornell steal stopped the Quakers from scoring again, and David Muller hit a three-pointer from the corner to cut the lead to two and silence an until-then boisterous crowd. "We're a team of spurts. They can be both positive or negative," Thompson said. "We've gotten it where we can make runs, but we've also been in situations where teams can make runs against us." After a Penn timeout, Cornell faced a Quakers run and could not withstand it. The Red and Blue scored nine out of the next 11 points, highlighted by a David Klatsky-to-Ugonna Onyekwe alley-oop, bringing the Palestra faithful to their feet. The play sparked the Quakers, who rolled from there, eventually winning by the score of 73-63. By the end of the contest, the only player keeping Cornell in the game was Mercedes, who scored a game-high 24 points. Mercedes was a Quakers-killer in last year's game as well, scoring 28. "Mercedes is hard to guard and played a good game for them," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "I thought we let him get off a little bit, and that got his confidence going." At times, Mercedes taunted the Penn crowd and tried to feed off their heckling. "Mercedes kept us in the game again this year by hitting some key shots and that really made a difference in the game," Thompson said. While the Quakers got the victory, the entire team knew it could and should have played better. The Red and Blue scoffed at the excuse of a letdown due to last Tuesday's win over archrival Princeton. "Maybe someone might say that you are due for an emotional victory like we had, but if we accept that we're not going to be a very good basketball team down the stretch here," Dunphy said. The Quakers were looking for a better performance against Columbia Saturday night -- and they got one. The Lions were playing without both of their point guards, and the Quakers exploited that by pressing at points throughout the game. "I love watching Dunphy's team play, except against me," Lions coach Armond Hill said. "I thought my guys competed. We had some opportunities for some shots, but we missed them and they came down the court and made a three or an easy layup." The Quakers did take advantage of the Lions' misses by draining 45 percent of their shots from the field in the first half. Penn had a 15-point lead at halftime, due mostly to an 11-0 run early in the half, which was highlighted by threes from Michael Jordan and Frank Brown. "There was a certain feeling at the shoot-around that they knew they had to be better tonight, and they took care of it," Dunphy said. With 8:10 left in the game and the Quakers sporting a 32-point lead, Dunphy emptied the bench, including Chris Ward, a career junior varsity player, who played in his first varsity game on Saturday. With this past weekend's wins, the Quakers still sit atop the Ancient Eight standings. Victories in the next four games would mean another Ivy title. But Penn is not getting ahead of itself and knows there is still room for improvement. As the accolades from opposing players and coaches pile up, the Red and Blue remain grounded and focused on the task at hand. "I think as good as we are defensively, we can be better at that," Dunphy said. "Our interior defense is pretty good, and we're playing well on the perimeter. But, offensively we have to get better with each possession and get more movement."

M. Hoops stifles Clemente but not Buth

(02/14/00 10:00am)

While the defensive ingredients differed in games against Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend for the Penn men's basketball team, the finished product was the same both nights. The Quakers entered Friday's game against Harvard wary of junior Dan Clemente. Last weekend, after returning from a detached retina that kept him out for nearly a month, Clemente scored 24 points twice in wins over Cornell and Columbia. Penn, however, was able to shut the 6'7" forward down, holding him to just two points and forcing him into three uncharacteristic turnovers. Clemente's ineffectiveness was epitomized by the fact that he fouled out with six minutes, 39 seconds left in the game, having barely left a mark. "I think Penn did an excellent job all night long guarding and guarding tough," Harvard coach Frank Sullivan said. "For us to have our top two scorers, Clemente and [Damian] Long, not get into double figures, we're not going to win many games when they don't score." Penn coach Fran Dunphy credited freshman Ugonna Onyekwe with causing Clemente's forgettable night. Onyekwe, who is usually known to Quakers fans for his offense, was a defensive stalwart, pulling down seven rebounds and getting one steal. "I think our defense has gotten to be very good," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "We've asked [Onyekwe] to guard probably the best scorer whether it's a three man, four man or five man on the opposition over the last ten games, and he's done a terrific job at that." Onyekwe's defensive intensity against Clemente was indicative of the entire Penn squad versus Harvard. Penn forced the Crimson into 13 turnovers and a putrid 38 percent field goal percentage. The Crimson were even worse from the three-point line, connecting on only 3-of-18 attempts. "I think Penn's defensive presence was extremely strong," Sullivan said. "I don't think we've seen a group of players in the league guard the basketball and guard one pass away as well as Penn did tonight." The Quakers also dominated the Crimson on the boards, pulling down 32 defensive rebounds to Harvard's 19. Penn recorded three blocks and four steals as well, en route to the 79-52 runaway victory. While the Quakers did score a win Saturday night against Dartmouth, they had more trouble on the defensive side of the ball than they had the previous night. These problems were caused mainly by Big Green forward Shaun Gee and guard Greg Buth. While Penn was able to effectively shut down Clemente on Friday night, the Quakers had more trouble with Gee and Buth, especially Buth. "I thought we had a chance to really give us a great comfort zone a couple of times, but we chose not to do that," Dunphy said. "Shaun Gee can get his shot, and Greg Buth, we didn't do a great job on him." The 6'7" Gee battled hard on the inside to score 13 points and pull down 10 rebounds. Buth was even more damaging to the Quakers. The junior guard shot 47 percent from the field and 4-for-9 from beyond the three-point arc. Two of Buth's threes were a part of a run that pulled Dartmouth within 11 points minutes into the second half. Buth's 18-point tally is the largest point total that an Ivy opponent has hung on the Quakers all season. "I thought Greg had it going, so obviously he had the green light," Dartmouth coach Dave Faucher said. "We got some inside hoops early, but that's not our identity. We tried to get Greg some inside points, but if the three's there, we will take it." And take it they did. The Big Green shot 28 times from way outside and hit on 36 percent of their chances. Interestingly, Dartmouth's overall field goal percentage was only one point higher at 37. "Dartmouth ran good stuff, and I thought they made some really tough shots," Dunphy said. "I think our defense could certainly improve. We called a switch on one particular set and we didn't do it. We hadn't been making those mistakes in the past, so we need to tighten it up." After this weekend's action, Ivy opponents are now scoring 47 points per game against the Quakers, up five points from a week ago. By all accounts, Penn's defense is in pretty good shape at this point in the season. The Quakers will need to take it up a notch tomorrow against Princeton, however. The Tigers beat Harvard and Dartmouth by an average margin of 21.5 points this weekend. While Penn's offensive execution is no longer in question after tallying totals of 79 and 75, the Quakers must contain Princeton's scorers like they did against Clemente, as opposed to their showing against Buth and Gee.

Notebook: Hot shooting not enough for M. Hoops

(02/09/00 10:00am)

After two blowout wins, the Quakers know they can still improve on offense by turning the ball over less. As the Penn men's basketball team enters the heart of its Ivy League schedule, the Quakers are encouraged by their six-game winning streak, but they know that there is still plenty of room for improvement. "The most important place we could get better is offensive execution," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "We need to make better decisions shooting the ball and maintain better control of the ball by not turning it over as much." Despite Dunphy's concerns, over the past six games the Quakers have shot a respectable 44.5 percent from the field. And this past weekend, Penn shot 46.4 percent in wins against Ivy rivals Brown and Yale. Turnovers, however, have continued to be a problem for the Quakers as they have averaged 11 giveaways during their current six-game winning streak. · While offensive production might be something Penn needs to improve upon, their tenacious defense has been stellar. Ivy opponents have scored an average of just 42 points per game against the Red and Blue, and the Quakers are allowing a scant 46.5 points over the past six games. Penn's best defensive performance of the year thus far came last Friday against Yale. The Quakers allowed the Elis to shoot a ridiculously low 23.7 percent from the field and held them to a meager 36 points. On that same night, Penn women's basketball forward Diana Caramanico scored 38 points all by herself against the Yale women. In addition, although the Quakers are trying to cut down on turnovers, they are still taking it away more than they are giving it away. Over the past six games, Penn's opponents are averaging just over 12 turnovers a game. · Last season, the Quakers were riding a similar winning streak going into their first meeting with this weekend's opponents, Harvard and Dartmouth. During the 1998-1999 season, Penn had won nine in a row heading into their showdowns against their rivals from northern New England and extended that streak to 11 by convincingly beating the Big Green and the Crimson. Against Dartmouth last season at the Palestra, Penn guards Matt Langel and Michael Jordan scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, as the Quakers went on to win 79-67. The next night against Harvard, Penn center Geoff Owens tallied a double-double, netting 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. The Quakers had a 12-point halftime lead and doubled that in the second half, winning 81-56. The Quakers have a right to expect decent competition from Harvard this season as the Crimson welcomed back their best player, Dan Clemente, this past weekend against Cornell and Columbia. Clemente, who was expected to miss the rest of the season with a detached retina, scored 24 points against both New York teams to garner Co-Ivy Player of the Week honors along with Langel. The Harvard junior averaged 18.5 points in two games against the Quakers last season. "Having Clemente back will give Harvard a big boost," Dunphy said. "And Dartmouth is a very talented team, they just got off to a slow start." The Big Green were supposed to compete for the Ivy title, but have struggled mightily all season with a record of 6-13. · When Langel was named Co-Ivy League Player of the Week for the past week, it was the first time he had won the award since the 1997-1998 season. He was last given this honor for an outstanding performance against Harvard when he scored a career-high 32 points, including six three-pointers. Langel hit a career-high eight times from beyond the arc against Brown on Saturday. Last season, he was named Honorable Mention All-Ivy and was named twice to the All-Ivy honor roll. Langel's backcourt counterpart, Michael Jordan, has already been named Ivy League Player of the Week twice this season. · While the Harvard and Dartmouth games are of utmost importance, there is always a fear that players are looking past these games due to the upcoming game at archrival Princeton next Tuesday. Dunphy maintains that the Quakers are concentrating on the task at hand. "If I hear of any player looking past these games, they will find themselves on the bench," he said. Penn split the season series with Princeton last year, losing a heartbreaker at home 50-49 before winning the final game of the season 73-48.

M. Hoops clips Hawks' wings for Big 5 victory

(02/01/00 10:00am)

The Quakers held off a comeback by St. Joe's to preserve the victory in the game's closing seconds. When at his wits' end, fictional godfather Michael Corleone complained: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." That quote from the Godfather trilogy fits the final minute of play in last night's Penn men's basketball game against St. Joseph's to a tee. Just when it looked as if Penn was going to run away with the game, the Quakers were pulled right back in by a Hawks basket or a Penn turnover. The final buzzer sounded with a controversial non-call off a St. Joe's inbounds play, when Penn center Geoff Owens tipped the pass out of the hands of Bill Phillips, crushing the Hawks' hopes for a desperation heave. "We played until the last second," St Joe's coach Phil Martelli said. "There should have been a call on the last play and there wasn't." The fact that the Hawks had the opportunity to tie the game was surprising given that the Quakers were up by seven points with 1:24 to go in the game. That, however, was when the wheels almost fell off for Penn. Ugonna Onyekwe, who led the Quakers in scoring with a career-high 20 points, had just sparked the crowd with a powerful dunk. But 14 seconds later, Onyekwe committed his fifth foul of the game, and his exit helped send the Quakers into a tailspin. Phillips made two free throws to cut the Penn lead to five. St Joe's then fouled Owens, sending him to the foul line for two shots. Owens, who is shooting an abysmal 44 percent from the charity stripe for the season, missed both shots. "I thought we played the last minute brilliantly," Martelli said. "We stretched it, squeezed every second out of that last minute and did everything we were supposed to do." After Owens' missed his foul shots, the Hawks quickly moved the ball down the court, where forward Andre Howard was fouled by Owens. Howard converted the front end of the one-and-one, cutting the Penn lead to four. The Quakers got the ball to Michael Jordan on the inbounds pass, and he was quickly fouled. Jordan, who leads Penn in free-throw percentage at 80 percent, made both shots. It seemed as if that was the end for St. Joe's. But the Hawks scored again when Tim Brown drove through the entire Penn defense and scored on an easy layup. "I think the thing that we should have controlled was Brown turning the corner as quickly as he did getting to the basket," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "We needed to try and get him to go east and west instead of taking it to the basket unimpeded." Following the basket, the Hawks fouled Penn forward Frank Brown, who made one-of-two from the line. At that point, the Quakers were up by five point with less than 40 seconds to go. Nevertheless, St. Joe's struck back yet again when Brown weaved through the defense, passing to Phillips for another easy layup. Jordan was fouled again and made another two free throws, which were quickly followed by another driving Brown layup for the Hawks. On the ensuing possession, Jordan made his fifth and sixth free throws of the last minute. And that's when things got really interesting. With 8.6 seconds to go and Penn up by five, Hawks guard Erick Woods heaved the ball to Brown, who was standing at the other baseline. Brown caught the ball, took a step back and hit an off-balance shocker from three-point range. "Brown's three was a terrific shot," Dunphy said. "With David [Klatsky] in the game -- he's a little shorter -- so it looked like Brown was able to jump over him for the shot." After a St. Joe's timeout, the Quakers inbounded the ball to Penn's Brown, but the forward was called for traveling while trying to draw a foul. The Quakers had one timeout left, but decided not to call it, giving St. Joe's the ball with 3.8 seconds to go. "I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to call a timeout to set up our defense, because that would have allowed them to set up their offense, so I just substituted Geoff [Owens] and that seemed to help us," Dunphy said. Brown, St. Joe's man of the minute, attempted to inbound the ball to Phillips, but Owens tipped the ball onto the ground where it rolled around until Jordan scooped it up with .2 seconds remaining in the contest. Jordan then sank one of two foul shots to seal the win at long last. As Owens tipped the ball, the St. Joe's bench erupted in fury as the players and coaches all frantically expressed their belief that a foul should have been called. Although the Quakers pulled out this victory, they had many opportunities to put the game away. Minus Jordan, who shot 9-of-11 on foul shots, Penn shot just 50 percent from the line. The Quakers also allowed eight points as a result of turnovers, and it might have been more if Owens had not tipped the ball at the last second.

Owls, with Pepe, hope for revenge

(01/20/00 10:00am)

The Penn men's basketball team heads for Temple, hoping to follow up on last year's win. The saying is supposed to go, "those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it." But the members of the Penn men's basketball team hope that history does repeat itself tonight at 7 p.m. when the Quakers face Temple at the Apollo. Last year Penn stunned the then-No. 6 Owls, beating them 73-70 in overtime. The circumstances are different, however, this season. Last year, the Quakers had the home-court advantage at the Palestra, and the contest was just the second game of the season for Penn. But perhaps the biggest difference between this year's game and last year's contest is the presence of Pepe Sanchez, Temple's star point guard. The Quakers did not have to deal with the always-poised Sanchez last year, as he missed much of the season with an injured ankle. Sanchez's nagging ankle also caused him to miss much of this season as well, as he has played just five of Temple's 14 games. But the Argentina native is now back and averaging more than nine assists a game to go with more than five steals per game. With Sanchez healthy, the Owls appear to be at least as threatening as last year's squad, which advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. "This was supposed to be a great year for us," Sanchez said. "Then we had the injuries, so it kind of slowed down the process of us becoming a good team. But we're all back together right now and we're starting to build our team." While Sanchez is a tremendous talent, the Quakers must concern themselves with more than just the Owls' point guard, as the Temple roster is littered with future NBA prospects. "I don't think we're going to do anything different with Pepe out there than we would if he wasn't playing," Penn co-captain Matt Langel said. "Pepe's a great player, he takes care of the ball real well and is a great defender, and we have to keep that in mind, and at the same time attack Temple." The Quakers must also watch out for Mark Karcher and Lynn Greer. Karcher, a power forward, is leading the team with an average of 16 points per game. Shooting guard Greer is close behind, averaging 14.6 points per contest. In last year's game, Greer filled in aptly for Sanchez, lighting up the Quakers for 23 points. Kevin Lyde and Lamont Barnes provide steady offense in the paint. "The inside is Karcher, it's Lyde, it's Barnes," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "We just want to not give them too many second-chance opportunities." While the Owls are ferocious on offense, defense is their trademark strength. In its last game against La Salle, Temple held the Explorers to just 12 points in the first half and 16 percent shooting en route to a 70-52 blowout. "Typically, their zone is very difficult to penetrate," Dunphy said. "But they play a very solid man-to-man when they go to it. They're very athletic." In last year's game Penn shot 56 percent from the field compared to Temple's 31 percent. But even with a good shooting night, sloppy play -- given Sanchez's notoriously quick hands and the Owls' stingy defense -- could spell trouble for the Quakers. "I don't know how you can work on preventing steals, but we've talked about it," Dunphy said. "Hopefully our guys will pay attention to that detail and be careful of their passes." The Quakers are also coming off a win, although not as convincing as Temple's 18-point differential. Over the weekend, Penn beat Lehigh 59-54. "I think gradually we're getting better," Dunphy said. "At Lehigh we played well defensively. Offensively, we did not shoot the ball very well. We need to shoot better from the perimeter and the foul line, and we gave up some easy baskets." While the Quakers expected a much-needed romp against the lowly Engineers, their confidence continues to improve. A win at Temple would be a huge emotional boost. "Temple is a great team," Langel said. "They've had some injuries early in the season and have lost some games they should have won, so to go out and compete and get a win against them would be a great win for us." Interestingly, the Quakers do not believe that revenge will be on the Owls' minds tonight -- despite last year's game. "I don't think they'll be out for revenge," Langel said. "Anytime you play a city game, you want to win the game. They have a few local guys who know the significance of the game, but they'll just come out and play hard like they do every game." In other words, Temple approaches every game with the same intensity and desire. "I think coach Chaney always has his guys on a very even keel," Dunphy said. "They don't ever get too high after a win or too low after a loss. That's a signature of his basketball." The Quakers need a win to finish at .500 in the Big 5. Thus far this season, Penn is 0-2 in Big 5 games, while Temple is 2-0. In December, the Owls -- minus Sanchez -- beat Villanova 69-66, while Penn lost to 'Nova on a buzzer beater on January 9. The Quakers' other Big 5 loss came against La Salle on December 7.

M. Hoops heads south to battle Auburn

(12/10/99 10:00am)

the Quakers hope that No. 8 Auburn continues its cold-shooting ways. "This is not your typical Ivy League team." That was the phrase Auburn coach Cliff Ellis used when describing the Penn men's basketball team to a group of reporters not familiar with the Quakers basketball program. Despite the Red and Blue's 1-3 start, Penn is still getting plenty of respect from the coach of the No. 8 team in the nation. Penn will find out if it deserves that respect when it faces the Tigers tomorrow night in Birmingham, Ala. "Penn is a team that is very dangerous," Ellis said. "They play hard, have a tough schedule and I'm sure we'll see them back in the NCAA [Tournament] in the spring." Although these complimentary words are nice for Penn to hear, the Quakers know that the Auburn program is more deserving of superlatives. "They're quite simply one of the top teams in the country," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "This game is a great challenge for us. It's a wonderful chance to make a mark against a great team." Challenge might be an understatement. After all, the Tigers are a team that started off last year's campaign with 17 straight wins en route to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This year, the Tigers are 4-1, with their sole loss coming at the hands of No. 3 Stanford. Auburn features perhaps the nation's best player in senior Chris Porter. The 6'7" power forward leads the Tigers at 12.2 points per game. He is known for his dazzling dunks and ability to make plays from anywhere on the floor. "We've got to pay lots of attention to Chris, but they have so many weapons you can't just concentrate on him," Dunphy said. "You just have to hope he doesn't do too much damage." Porter's talented supporting cast includes Doc Robinson, a point guard averaging almost seven assists per game and Mamadou N'diaye, a seven-foot center scoring close to eight points a game and bringing down 10 rebounds. Scott Pohlman is another key for the Tigers. The senior shooting guard is averaging 11 points per game this season. The Auburn lineup should be bolstered further with the return of forward David Hamilton. Hamilton broke his leg in a pick-up game last Christmas Eve but is set to play on Saturday for the first time since the injury. "We're really excited to have David back," Ellis said. "We're not expecting too much from him yet, but he should provide some depth inside." In spite of the potent offense, the Tigers have struggled this season with their shooting. Auburn's field goal percentage is .403, the worst in the SEC. Porter has not been immune to the poor shooting, as his percentage is at .344, down from .407 last season. "They are certainly not shooting as well as they can," Dunphy said. "Hopefully their breakout game won't be against us." Like their foes, the Quakers have also experienced shooting woes early in the season. Against La Salle on Tuesday night, both Michael Jordan and Matt Langel seemed to break out of their slumps, scoring 22 and 17 points, respectively. "I don't think it's a case of us not shooting that well," Langel said. "We're not as deadly as we have been. We don't have a third shooter like a Jed Ryan or a Garret Krietz" Both guards' shooting percentages are down from last year. Last season, Jordan shot .439 from the field compared to .370 this season, while Langel's field goal average in the first five games is .405, down from .440. Nevertheless, Ellis believes that those numbers are deceiving. "Although Penn hasn't been shooting well early in the season, we know that Jordan is an excellent shooter and that you can't give Langel any daylight," he said. Auburn is the second of a host of national powerhouses the Quakers will battle this season. They lost at No. 22 Kentucky in their season opener and play at No. 4 Kansas on January 4 and at No. 19 Temple o January 20. Dunphy's philosophy about these games is they are more than just preparation for league contests. "These athletes' college careers are so short," he said. "And we have to take advantage of every opportunity to give them experiences that they won't forget." If the Quakers can pull out a victory on Saturday, no player would ever forget beating the eighth-ranked team in the country.

M. Soccer makes intangible strides in '99 season

(11/12/99 10:00am)

While the Quakers have equaled their '98 win total, they look forward to 2000. As the Penn men's soccer team takes the field for the last time this season at Harvard on Saturday, it will play having answered many questions that were raised in the beginning of the year. While their final record may not be better than last year's, the Quakers (4-10-1, 0-5-1 Ivy League) are much improved over the '98 squad. Penn's record in 1998 was 4-11-1, 0-6-1 in the Ivy League. "We do have a better team," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "We definitely let some games slip away that we should have won, which would have significantly improved our record, but we're working hard to keep this program moving in the right direction." The close games that Fuller referred to occurred frequently this season. The first and probably most disappointing game was a 2-1 loss to St. Francis in the fourth game of the year. The Quakers came out flat and St. Francis took a quick 2-0 lead. Penn fought back with a goal in the second half but ran out of time before it could get the equalizer. "I thought we were better than them last year and we beat them 3-0 and I thought we were better than them this year," Fuller said. "It's a good lesson for the younger guys to learn that you have to come ready to play against every team." Penn followed up the loss to St. Francis with close defeats later in the season at the hands of Columbia, Old Dominion and Brown. Most recently, the Quakers lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Princeton. In that game, a questionable call inside the penalty box gave the Tigers a game-winning penalty kick with a minute to go. "The only two teams that I felt played on a higher level than us were Yale and UMBC," Penn co-captain Reggie Brown said. "We lost five or six games that we had the lead in and that will change as the team has more experience." These frustrations can be all but erased with a win on Saturday. The Quakers have not won an Ivy contest in over a year and a half and a victory would be beneficial for the entire team, from the seniors down to the freshmen. "It's important to send the seniors off on a winning note and [it] lets them put their stamp on a program that's getting turned around," Fuller said. "And it's good for the younger guys to send a message that we're a team to be reckoned with next season." Beating Harvard (4-8-2, 2-3-0), however, will be no small feat. The Crimson are a talented team with two great players. Seniors Armando Petrucelli and Will Hench lead the team with six goals and four assists and three goals and two assists, respectively. "Harvard is having a season similar to ours," Fuller said. "They're better than their record indicates and at this point, there's nothing to play for but pride." Regardless of what happens in the last game, the coaching staff is confident that next year's team will show improvement over this year's squad. "We're trying to start stacking a good recruiting class on a good recruiting class on a good recruiting class," Fuller said. "It's going very well right now, but we won't know until a couple of months from now, so we have to be patient." Fuller also wants to improve upon last year's off-season training program. When he arrived at Penn in the spring of 1998, the off-season program left a lot to be desired. While there was definite progress last spring, he believes that much more can be done. "Getting guys out to play in the spring, lifting religiously and being dedicated to continually improving as individuals and as a team are all things I would hope to see a significant improvement in this off-season," he said. The off-season, however, is still one game away. For now, the Quakers still have a shot at picking up their first Ivy win since 1997.

M. Soccer upset over controversial call

(11/08/99 10:00am)

The golden rule of referee school -- if there is such a thing -- is probably that a referee should never decide the outcome of a game. If you ask the members of the Penn men's soccer team, they would probably tell you Saturday's refs never learned that rule. On Senior Day, the Quakers dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to Princeton in front of a big Homecoming crowd. The two teams played scoreless soccer until the final minute of play, when a questionable foul close to the penalty box led to a Princeton penalty shot and goal. "I thought it was one of our better games overall, and I feel a little bit ripped off," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "But, you have to give credit to the referee for having the guts to call a penalty in that spot if he thought there was one." Last-place Penn battled the first-place Tigers hard for the entire game, with each team's offensive statistics nearly even. The Quakers had five shots while Princeton took 10. Also, Penn took four corner kicks while Princeton had six. Both offenses were also even in the fact that they both struggled mightily to make plays throughout the game. "It wasn't a good day for our attack," Princeton coach Jim Barlow said. "Our guys had a hard time putting plays together -- passing isn't easy on this field and we knew that coming in." Penn also had opportunities but could not convert. Twice in the first half, senior David Bonder took shots from 20 yards out. Princeton goalie Jason White was then forced to to make two tough saves. Both teams also played similar games in that both gave credit to its defense for carrying the team. "I thought Griff Behncke, Graeme Rein and Chad Adams all played great games," Barlow said. "Every time Penn advanced the ball, those guys picked them off and plugged holes." Fuller gave credit to the entire team for its defensive performance. "The defense was fantastic," he said. "Not just the backfield, but the team defense overall. From [goalie] Mike [O'Connor] to the midfield, the defense was right where we wanted it to be." At the end of the game, the only place the teams were not even was in the final score. With just over a minute left, Princeton sophomore Mike Nugent took a free ball from midfield, dribbled it over and made a nice through pass to Behncke beating a couple of Penn defenders. Behncke then took the ball and passed it to Matt Striebel right at the corner of the penalty box. O'Connor came out aggressively for the ball and tackled Striebel, knocking the ball out of bounds with exactly one minute left. It was at this point that the controversy began. Referee Tom Schmidt blew his whistle, calling a foul on O'Connor and pointed to the penalty box, indicating that the foul had occurred inside the box. "I came after the referee thinking and thought he was going to change the call because he was talking to the linesman but he was already pointing to the spot inside the box," Penn co-captain Reggie Brown said. "You don't want to whine or cry about it but if you give them a penalty shot, you might as well spot them a goal from the start." Behncke took the penalty and shot it into the right lower corner past a diving O'Connor, making the score 1-0. "It was obviously out of the box," O'Connor said of the foul. "I came out and I definitely fouled him, but it was at least five feet out. You just don't make that call with a minute left, especially anywhere near the line." "I've never seen anything like this," he said. "It sucks that the referee gets to decide the game." Barlow also questioned if the foul was in the box. "I thought it was a courageous call by the referee," he said. "We're fortunate that he called it and that's all you can really say about it." Despite the distressing ending, the Quakers can take something positive away from this game. They fought down to the wire with a Princeton team that has only lost one game in the Ivy League and had their best defensive performance of the season. "We definitely feel confident going into the last week of the season," Brown said. "We're going to come out hard and fight for the next two games like we've been doing all year."

M. Soccer hopes to spoil Tigers' title hopes

(11/05/99 10:00am)

Princeton coach James Barlow leads his squad against former roommate Rudy Fuller's Quakers tomorrow. Like many previous Penn vs. Princeton meetings, the men's soccer game tomorrow at Rhodes Field will help to decide an Ivy League champion. Unfortunately for the Quakers, the best they can do is deal a dramatic blow to the Tigers and keep them from winning the Ivy championship. This 1999 season has been one of opposites for the two teams. The Quakers are 3-9-2 and are winless in the Ivy League. Penn is also suffering through a five-game losing streak. Conversely, the Tigers are 9-4-1 and only have one loss in the Ancient Eight. They had a six-game winning streak snapped last Saturday in a 4-2 loss to Rutgers. Despite the different paths the teams have taken, Penn still believes it has a legitimate shot at beating its longtime rival. "I don't think we have to do anything differently from what we've been doing," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "We had a great game against Yale [a 3-0 loss last Saturday] and have been playing well, we just need to keep raising our level of play." Adding significance to this weekend's game is the relationship between the two coaches. Fuller and Princeton coach James Barlow are good friends and have a relationship that dates back almost 10 years. Before coaching at Penn, Fuller was an assistant coach at Georgetown. At the same time, Barlow was an assistant at American University. During their tenures as assistants in the D.C. area, Fuller and Barlow lived together. Barlow was promoted to the head coaching job at Princeton four years ago, while this season is Fuller's second at Penn. Despite the two coaches' knowledge of each other's styles, Fuller does not believe that either will out-strategize the other. "Both teams are familiar with each other anyway," Fuller said. "We played [Princeton] last year and we play them in the spring. We know that Princeton is a great team that has no glaring weaknesses." From playing the team so frequently, the Quakers know that they face a tough task in beating Princeton. The Tigers offense runs through their midfield, where Matt Behncke is the team's statistical leader. The sophomore has five goals and three assists on the year. Goalie Jason White is also a standout with a 0.98 goals against average, third in the Ivy League. "I think we have to pay attention to detail," Penn co-captain Mike O'Connor said. "In our last few games many of the goals scored on us could have been prevented, so no one can rest for even a minute. On offense we have to keep pressure on the ball throughout the game." For the game, Penn will be without senior defenseman Jason Karageorge, who tore his PCL this week in practice and doesn't know when he will return. A win Saturday for the Quakers would be a big step in accomplishing one of the team's main goals of the season, which is to improve on last year's record. In 1998, the Red and Blue posted a 4-11-1 record and were winless in the Ivy League. The Quakers blew their last chance at winning a game in the league last season when Princeton beat them in the finale, 3-0. "It is really important to the team to have a better record than last year," O'Connor said. "It's really unfortunate that our record doesn't show it because we are clearly a better team than we were last year."

M. Soccer losing streak hits five with loss to Elis

(11/02/99 10:00am)

With a 3-0 loss to 24th-ranked yale, the Penn men's soccer team remained winless in the Ivy League. If four of your last five opponents are ranked in the top 25 teams in the country and you're not, it's quite likely that you won't come out of these games unscathed. This has been the scenario in which the Penn men's soccer team has found itself recently. The Quakers have lost five in a row, the latest a 3-0 defeat Saturday at the hands of 24th-ranked Yale. "While we'd really like to have more wins and we were sitting at 3-4-2 right at the hump, we knew the second half of the season was going to be a really difficult part of the schedule," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "But to the guys' credit, they've continued to work hard and I would expect us for the final three games to come out strong as well." The Quakers came out strong on Saturday, but the Elis were too much to handle. Early on, play was dominated by the Yale midfield, which led to two first-half goals. "They had really talented midfielders," Penn freshman William Libby said. "We didn't know how to pick them up in the beginning of play and that really cost us." Penn adjusted to Yale's play at the end of the first half but by then it was too late. The Elis opened the scoring at 7:46 into the game. Yale freshman phenom Jay Alberts received a nice through pass from Matt Schmitz and put the ball past Penn goalie Mike O'Connor. Yale added to its lead when Jac Gould scored an unassisted goal at 26:15 in the first half. However, even down 2-0 at halftime, Fuller still believed that Penn still had a chance to win the game. "I told the guys that whoever got the next goal I felt would win the game," he said. "If we had gotten a goal we could have disrupted their flow of play and then gotten a second one. But they were able to score and we weren't able to come back from 3-0 on a team of Yale's caliber." Penn did have opportunities early in the second frame to score. With less than five minutes gone by, Penn captain Reggie Brown passed through to freshman Eric Mandel. The forward was able to get his foot on it but the ball went just wide of the goal. Yale was able to clinch the victory with another goal from Alberts with 4:24 remaining in the game. "All of their goals were quality goals," Fuller said. "They have four or five quality players in the attack and those guys did well to get the goals that they did." Penn's suffering on the offensive end was also due to a talented Yale backfield and goalie. The shutout was the Elis' eighth of the year and the 10th of goalie David Bochmer's career. "They were an overall really solid team," Libby said. "We could learn a lot from them." At 0-4-1, Penn remains winless in the Ivy League. Yale, however, has a legitimate shot at the Ivy title. Wins against Princeton and Cornell would place the Elis in a first place tie with the Tigers and Big Red. While the Quakers have ruined their chance to play spoiler to Yale, they have another shot against Princeton on Saturday. "A loss to us would really damage things for Princeton," Fuller said. "We also are still trying to improve on last year's record and get better every time we step on the field."

Veteran Brown squad battles back to down M. Soccer

(10/25/99 9:00am)

The Quakers fell to 0-3-1 in the Ivy League as a result of Saturday's loss to the Bears. The Penn men's soccer team kissed two things goodbye at the end of its 2-1 loss to Brown on Saturday. Not only did the players bid farewell to their parents who had cheered enthusiastically for them throughout the game, but they also said so long to any hopes at winning the 1999 Ivy League title. The loss to Brown drops the Quakers' record to 0-3-1 in the Ivy League and 3-7-2 overall. Much as they did in their previous two games, the Quakers scored the first goal only to have their opponent net the next two. "[We] showed a lot of character," Brown coach Mike Noonan said. "We went down a goal and it's a difference between a younger team which Penn has and a team that went back to work after it had a goal scored on it. This result will go their way in time." The result might have gone Penn's way on Saturday had it not been for two dead ball kicks. After Penn scored on a Henry Chen penalty kick, the Bears stormed back down the field and drew a penalty. Brown forward Marcio scored his 10th goal of the season on a header off the penalty kick. Later in the half, Bears forward Scott Powers took another dead ball kick from Christian Martinez and chipped the ball right over the hands of Penn goalie Mike O'Connor. "The difference was that they had two special players that scored two special goals," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "Marcio makes a living off of half chances and the second goal was a classy goal." Until the first Brown goal, it looked as if Penn might make its 1-0 lead stand up. The first half was a back-and-forth battle that seemed like one goal was all that either side would need. The first opportunity for Penn came five minutes into the game when forward Mike McElwain couldn't catch up to a ball put through the middle. Brown countered quickly when forward Adrian Rapp brought the ball down the right side and forced O'Connor to make a save. Despite the chances, the only really close call for either team occurred off a Brown corner kick. The ball was placed in the middle of the goalie box out of the reach of O'Connor. After a couple of tense seconds of scrambling, however, the defense was able to clear the ball, and minutes later the half ended. "We don't relax until we score the first goal," Noonan said. "It's a difficult way to play, but it worked going into and throughout the second half." In the second half, the pace of the game picked up, but both teams seemed strong with one squad putting pressure on the defense and the other countering. Fifteen minutes into the second frame, Penn broke the scoreless tie when a penalty was called inside the goalie box. Henry Chen was able to convert the penalty with a crisp shot to the bottom left corner of the goal. "We had done well to get in their end and we had a good sequence," Fuller said. "What you want is to create a chance to score and we did that." Just four minutes later, however, the Bears were able to create their own opportunity off a penalty. From outside the penalty box Brown forward Scott Powers kicked the ball right at the group of players standing near the goal. Marcio stepped towards the ball and redirected the header past O'Connor. "We had guys all over him and he still made the shot," Fuller said. "He doesn't need a good chance to put it in the back of the net." The game appeared headed to overtime when the Bears drew another penalty near the spot of the previous one. The Quakers set up a wall, expecting a shot at the goal. Instead, Martinez struck the ball toward the left side and made its way out to Powers. "I was looking for a cross," O'Connor said. "But he was close enough so I had to cover the near post and he was able to chip it in the near corner." The picture-perfect goal into the upper back corner was Powers' fourth goal of the year. "Powers' goal was a class goal," Noonan said. "He saw that the goalie had come out too far and put it right over his head. It was a terrific finish." With just 10 minutes left, Penn couldn't respond. At the 88:30 mark, co-captain Reggie Brown made a run up the middle and took a hard shot but was robbed of a goal when Brown keeper Matt Cross made a beautiful save. "We had our chances in the end but that's just the way the day went," Penn defender John Salvucci said. "Nine out of 10 times [Powers] is going to miss that shot. It's just a matter of where the luck was." Three of the Quakers remaining five games are against Ivy opponents -- Yale, Princeton, and Harvard -- so the team is looking to play spoiler. "If I'm going down, someone's going down with me," Fuller said. "We have the opportunity to knock these guys out of the race. If we're not going to win it neither will any of these teams that we are playing, and I think our guys will really respond to that."

M. Soccer win streak snapped with pair of one-goal losses

(10/20/99 9:00am)

After beginning its first winning streak of the season last week, the Penn men's soccer team quickly slipped back into a losing streak, dropping two consecutive 2-1 contests. The Red and Blue fell to 3-6-2 after bowing to Old Dominion on Saturday and Lehigh yesterday. The games were the last before Penn embarks on a stretch in which it faces three Ivy opponents over four games. In Saturday's game against Old Dominion, the Quakers came out strong in the first half, like they have consistently been doing as the season has progressed. Ten minutes into the game, Penn was pressuring the ODU defense. Penn goalie Mike O'Connor punted the ball deep into Monarchs territory but Quakers forward Mike McElwain missed the header from the punt. It looked as if the defender would control the ball but a miscommunication between the defense and the goalkeeper caused the ball to go into the net for the first and only Penn goal of the day. "It was a mistake on our part," ODU coach Alan Dawson said. "We had a miscommunication between our goalkeeper and our last defender. Penn was putting pressure on us, and put us under the gun a bit, so they forced us to make the mistake." Despite other scoring chances, that goal was the only one either team would net in the first frame. Six minutes after the Penn goal, ODU (10-2) tried to counter with a flurry of shots. O'Connor, however, ended the opportunity with a great sliding save. "Mike came up with some big saves and I think he played as well as he did anytime in the season," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "Some of the chances they had were difficult to stop." Penn also had chances in the first frame, thanks mostly to forwards McElwain and William Libby. Both players barely missed goals on passes from one another. "I thought we had a lot of scoring opportunities," Libby said. "We've built up a good relationship on the field and that should help us out in future games." In the second half, the Monarchs took control of the game. About halfway through the second frame, Michael Tooley tied the game with a blast off the right post off an assist by junior forward Tommy Barnicle. The strike was the freshman's eighth of the season. Five minutes later, Michael Tanner recorded the game winner when he carried for 20 yards before blasting a shot past O'Connor. The goal was Tanner's 14th of the season. "I've been on kind of a hot streak lately," Tanner said. "Giovanni Solorzano stripped the defender and played a great ball though. I got a good first touch on it and was able to put it in the corner." Although Penn played a more intense game from that point on, the Quakers seemed fatigued and could not get the equalizer. "Up until this point we've played teams that are all about the same level, but against ODU we had to jump to the next level," Fuller said. "This game challenged us to become better and for a good portion we were up to the challenge." Against Lehigh (6-6-2), the Quakers were up to the challenge for the entire game, but could not come away with a win. Similar to the ODU game, Penn took a 1-0 lead only to see the Engineers come back and score two. What was different about this game was that Penn had more chances than its opponent did. "Against the Monarchs, we had the better of play in the first half," Fuller said. "Against Lehigh, we controlled possession throughout the game. We just got stung twice." The Quakers once again started strong, drawing a penalty kick midway through the first frame. Reggie Brown could not convert the penalty, however, and the score remained 0-0. Despite the missed opportunity, Penn remained upbeat and scored just minutes later. Penn midfielder Austin Deng made a crisp pass to McElwain at the top of the 18-yard box. The forward controlled the ball and put it right past Lehigh goalie Jeff Correll. The Engineers reacted fast with a counter-attack goal. Lehigh midfielder Evan Bruno took the ball down the sideline and passed it to Dan Perciballi, who slid the ball right under O'Connor to even the score. The teams remained even at halftime and nothing changed until the 73:23 mark. The Quakers lined up for a corner kick. Bruno controlled a Lehigh clear and passed to Perciballi, who scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal. "Both goals were counterattack goals," O'Connor said. "We were playing aggressively on offense and they were able to get two breakaways." The persistent Quakers offense led to Correll having to make eight saves while O'Connor only had to make four. But that's obviously not the statistic that counts. Nevertheless, Fuller remains confident that if the team keeps up its high level of play, the wins will come. "If the guys continue to improve as a team, the results will be better," he said.

M. Soccer edges Rams for second win in a row

(10/14/99 9:00am)

Mike McElwain's goal made the difference as Penn moved within one of its '98 win total. It wasn't pretty, but the Penn men's soccer team has its first winning streak of the season. After a 1-0 victory over Philadelphia University yesterday at Rhodes Field, the Quakers have won two in a row and three of their last four games. "We're feeling good about our play right now," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "So much of college soccer is how a team is feeling about itself and with each week that has passed, the guys have gained more and more confidence." The way Penn (3-4-2) started out the game against Philadelphia (7-4-2), a win did not seem like it was in the cards. In the first half the Quakers were outshot 4-0 and were beaten in every offensive category. "In the first half, I figured we'd open ahead," Philadelphia coach John Dunlop said. "We figured it would be a one or two-goal game." In the second half, however, the Quakers came out with more intensity and dominated for most of the second frame. Three minutes after halftime, Penn recorded its first shot of the game when senior Jason Karageorge hit the ball from 35 yards out toward the top right corner. Rams goalie Mike Hamilton made a nice save but that set up a corner kick, which Penn sophomore Evan Anderson headed at Hamilton for the Quakers' second shot. This flurry set the stage for what was to be a Penn-dominated half. "We really had difficulty getting the ball under control in the first half," Fuller said. "But we absorbed a lot, stayed organized and did OK defensively. We talked at halftime about showing a bit more of our soccer and that's what happened." After a few more close calls for the Quakers -- including freshman Robb Jankura's shot that sailed just wide of the goal and another Karageorge bomb from 40 yards out -- the Red and Blue finally netted one. With just under 10 minutes left in regulation, Penn freshman William Libby got a hold of the ball on the edge of the goal box, took the ball down the left side and crossed it to Mike McElwain, who shot the ball between the diving goalie and the near post. "Billy had a great cross," McElwain said. "I was lucky enough to be in the box. I got the ball, pushed it past a defender and just shot away." McElwain's goal was the second for him of the season and the third of his career, and proved to be the game winner, as Penn and Philadelphia played to a draw for the remainder of the game. "It definitely was not one of the prettiest games of the year," Quakers co-captain Mike O'Connor said. "But throughout the game, we made sure to control the things we could and not have any breakdowns on team defense. We knew a goal was going to come, so we didn't really worry about getting the chances -- we just made sure the defense stayed strong." In net, O'Connor benefitted from the defense's strong play in the second half, as the Quakers allowed the Rams to take just three shots after the break. O'Connor, who finished with four saves, recorded his fourth shutout of the season. Along with the tough defense and persistent offense came a physical game from both squads. Seven yellow cards and two red cards were distributed during the course of the match. David Bonder received a red card for Penn while Adam Pollack received a red card for the Rams following a late-game altercation. The two players were penalized as a result of a minor fight shortly after the Penn goal had been scored. "There were some reckless tackles," Fuller said. "I don't think it was dirty or with intent to injure, but it was just a sloppy game." O'Connor, however, said that the intensity was due to the two team's close proximity to one another. "Anytime two city teams go at it, it's pretty much a rough game," he said. "But the ref was pretty much calling everything, and keeping it under control, but it's going to happen." The Quakers are now one game below .500 and have just one win less than their 1998 total (four) with eight games to play. While they have no more games remaining against Philadelphia teams, the Quakers resume play Saturday against Old Dominion and play their next Ivy game a week later at home against Brown.

M. Soccer hits its midseason stride

(10/06/99 9:00am)

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet. The words to this Bachman-Turner Overdrive sports arena staple seem to be the mantra for the Penn men's soccer team as it hits the midway point of the season. "I think we've started to hit our stride," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "We've put two good games back to back and we're really looking forward to the remaining 10 games starting tomorrow." After gaining their first win of the season last week and playing 85 minutes of solid soccer over the weekend in a loss to Columbia, the Quakers (1-4-2) are confident as they head to Easton, Pa., to face off against Lafayette today. This confidence stems not only from the team's strong play in the last two games but also from the team's improving chemistry on the field. "Slowly but surely, people have started to settle in to some spots on the field for us and we've done pretty well," Fuller said. "The team has started to bond on the field over the past two games and it's started to show." Fuller pointed to co-captain Mike O'Connor's steady play in goal and senior Jason Karageorge's performance at the defensive center position, which was new for him at the beginning of the season. Fuller also mentioned that freshmen Nathan Kennedy and Eric Mandel have established themselves in the center midfield. This solidification will certainly benefit the team, especially when compared to the coaches' early season lineup-shifting in an attempt to find the best possible field players. "We've gotten a lot of guys time [and] 17 different field players have started games for us," Fuller said. "I think that that has had something to do with our results." Despite a great first half against Columbia on Saturday, the Quakers were not able to gain their first win in the Ivy League. Penn took a 1-0 lead into halftime but was caught flat-footed as the Lions scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half. "We showed that we can play with anyone in the first half of the Columbia game," O'Connor said. "And in the second half, we saw that we can fall asleep against anyone as well." The Quakers now get a three-week break from the Ivy League but the team hopes the progress continues. "It's probably easier to get up for Ivy League games," Fuller said. "But we prepare the team the same for every game and the guys try to prepare the same for each game." It shouldn't be difficult for the Quakers to get excited about Lafayette. Last season, the Leopards shut out Penn 3-0, so revenge should be on the team's mind. "Last year we outplayed them but they defended well and had three counterattack goals and we lost," Fuller said. "Tomorrow, we have to think about going after them once again and staying patient on the attack and not getting frustrated if we're not rewarded for our play." Lafayette (4-3-2) is coming off a 1-0 overtime win against St. Francis (N.Y.). Despite concentrating on defense -- the team has three shutouts already this season -- Lafayette boasts Jake Ross, who is the Patriot League's leading scorer. Ross has seven goals and two assists, including the winning goal in the St. Francis game. "Lafayette is a team of good players," co-captain Reggie Brown said. "They're a solid team and we're going to have to go after them for the full 90 minutes." The Quakers, however, are choosing to focus more on themselves, rather than worrying more about their opponents. "The most important thing for us is how we're playing," Fuller said. "I think if we concentrate on ourselves and prepare ourselves to play at the highest level we can, we'll do very well."

One perfect half doesn't get job done in M. Soccer defeat

(10/04/99 9:00am)

The Penn men's soccer team found out this weekend that one perfect half of soccer does not equal a win. Despite playing what Penn coach Rudy Fuller called "the best 45 minutes of Penn soccer" since he's been at the team's helm, the Quakers collapsed in the second half and lost on Saturday to Columbia, 3-1. Going into the game in New York, the Quakers were fresh off their first win of the season last Tuesday against Temple. "We came into the game with a great deal of confidence," Penn freshman William Libby said. "That certainly showed in the first half." The Quakers (1-4-2, 0-2-1 Ivy League) were intense in the first half, winning every loose ball and outplaying their opponents in every aspect of the game. "We were in complete control going into halftime," Fuller said. "It was a flawless half." The statistics support Fuller's assessment. Not only did Penn have a 1-0 lead, but it also outshot the Lions 13-2 and had all of the momentum. The Quakers scored their first and only goal with 41:30 left in the first half. Co-captain Reggie Brown started the run on the wing and passed the ball to junior Mike McElwain, who then gave a perfect touch pass to David Bonder. Bonder returned the ball to a diving McElwain who headed it just inside the post for his first goal of the season. "It was probably our best goal of the season," Brown said. However, the positives of the first 45 minutes were quickly forgotten in the first minutes of the second half as Columbia scored two goals within the first five minutes of play. Initially it looked as if the Quakers and Lions would play a more even half as both teams came out of the break enthusiastically. "The play was back and forth at the outset of the second half," Fuller said. "No one had attained control until they got a corner kick." It was this free kick that gave the Lions their first goal. On the corner, the ball was kicked so that it curved nicely towards the net. Two Lions crashed the goal and David Duffy knocked the ball in on a header to even the score. The second goal for Columbia (6-2, 1-2) came just minutes later. A Lions midfielder took control of the ball with space to work. He made a solid pass down the field, which was controlled by Leslie Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick made a nice move and passed the ball to Will Murphy who headed the ball in for Columbia's second goal. "The second goal was very similar to the first," Libby said. "But instead of a free corner kick, the forward took a pass and made a nice cross for a header." The third goal occurred with under two minutes left in the game. Penn pushed all of its players up to try to tie the score and Craig Smart broke through to score the last goal of the game. "We played well after the first five minutes of the second half," Fuller said. "But we have to be upset with ourselves for giving away those goals. We outshot our opponents 21-9 for the game which clearly shows what type of game we had." With the loss, the Quakers remain winless in the Ivy league, which has many players upset. "We've dug a big hole for ourselves in the league," Brown said. "We can't keep looking positively at losses if we don't turn things around." Despite the frustration, the team has not suffered a let down in effort. "We certainly have not given up," Libby said. "We just can't dwell on past games and have to concentrate on playing better in the next one."

M. Soccer turns to freshmen to provide immediate support

(09/28/99 9:00am)

In the 16th century, explorer Juan Ponce De Leon went searching for the fountain of youth. In 1999, the Penn men's soccer team seems to have found it. In a 2-0 loss to Cornell over the weekend, Penn coach Rudy Fuller started four freshmen, with three others receiving significant playing time. Although this youth movement has not yet led to a win for the Quakers, the play of the freshmen gives Penn much to look forward to this season and in those to come. After struggling to finish with a 4-11-1 record in 1998, Fuller and the rest of the coaching staff went out and recruited a class to fill many different positions. What the Quakers ended up with was 12 freshmen on the 27-player roster. "There's a large number of freshmen," Fuller said. "There's six seniors and so it's a bottom-heavy team." This young blood brings both positives and negatives. Along with the new talent and new attitude comes inexperience in game situations from almost half of the team. In fact, many of the team's early struggles have been due to mental errors rather than physical ones. In many games, for example, teams have caught the Quakers flat-footed at the outset and have scored early. Often, Penn has not been able to recover. "Mentally, we felt better about ourselves in the beginning of the year than we do now and that's what we're working on," Fuller said. To cure these mental lapses, teams usually look to their senior leaders. The freshmen, however, believe everybody must play a role in picking up the team when it is down by a goal or gets a bad call from a referee. "The seniors have been great, and have really made us feel part of the team," Penn freshman Eric Mandel said. "But I think it's the responsibility of everyone on the team to stop the mental lapses and we're just as at fault as anyone. [The seniors have] been playing longer but there's no reason why we can't pick up our game or get the guys going around us." One reason why the freshmen are so willing to take responsibility for the team despite playing just five collegiate games is that they expected this situation. After last season's difficulties, the freshmen knew they had to come into the Penn program and make an immediate difference. "One of the main reasons I decided to come here was so I could have an impact on the team right away," freshman William Libby said. "Coach Fuller really allows that if we play well in practice we can show what we can do during a game." Libby has made a strong impression on the team already as he recorded his first goal in the loss to St. Francis last week. Freshman Nathan Kennedy has also scored a goal this season. "This situation of playing in games is what I hoped for coming into the season," Kennedy said. "We knew we had a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility. We're trying to do our best and fill the positions that need to be filled." Despite the large influx of new and younger players, team chemistry is good. "The freshmen class is very strong," Penn junior Austin Deng said. "They can play all different positions and are helping the team out a lot." In addition, while the Quakers have yet to win a game, the freshmen, who are accustomed to winning in high school, have remained confident. "The freshmen have to keep a positive attitude," Penn freshman William Lee said. "If the freshmen get a negative attitude, it can only make things worse." Lee and the rest of the Quakers take this positive attitude across Philadelphia to face Soccer 7 rival Temple tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. The Owls are also off to a slow start at 0-3-1, but everyone on the Red and Blue is taking them seriously. "You know what you're going to get with Temple," Fuller said. "They have some players who can win the game on their own, but we know the whole team is going to fight for the full 90 minutes." Fuller said that he expects the starting lineup for the Temple game to be very similar to the one he used in the Cornell game, meaning his reliance in the freshmen will continue. "The difference between this year and last year is depth," Fuller said. "We have the luxury of closely watching guys throughout the week and picking who we feel [is the] sharpest to start." Therefore, if the freshmen continue to practice hard and play hard, four freshman or more starting may become the norm. A win at Temple would certainly be a first step in that direction.

Young M. Soccer works on starting faster

(09/24/99 9:00am)

For the Penn men's soccer team, growing pains isn't just an '80s TV show starring Kirk Cameron. Growing pains are also the trials and tribulations that a young team faces during the course of the season. The Quakers have encountered these problems all season, most recently in a 2-1 loss to St. Francis on Wednesday. Penn (0-2-2, 0-1 Ivy League) failed in its fourth attempt at a win this season despite dominating much of the game. The Quakers hope to have learned something from the defeat as they face a tough battle with Cornell (2-3, 0-1) tomorrow at Rhodes Field. "It was a team that we should have beaten," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said of the St. Francis game. "We knew what we had to do to be successful but weren't able to execute until we were down 1-0". The Quakers have been struggling with their scoring throughout the season but Fuller and the players are now looking at another problem area -- starting the game too slow. "They were ready right from the opening kickoff," Penn freshman Nathan Kennedy said. "They caught us on our heels and scored quickly. St. Francis' first goal came within the first four minutes of the game. This issue of bad starts for Penn is not new. Against George Mason, the Quakers allowed a goal only one minute and twenty-one seconds into the second half, and in their game versus James Madison, the opposition scored quickly just after Penn had netted a goal. "We as coaches are talking about what we can do to better prepare the team," Fuller said. "But what it comes down to is that each individual gets ready for games differently. So there's no across-the-board solution." The Quakers need to come out stronger against Cornell. The Big Red are also hungry for their first Ivy win after a 3-1 loss to Princeton last week. "They're smaller but a more skillful team," Penn senior co-captain Reggie Brown said. "They have great play in the midfield and forward positions." Two players the Quakers must watch are juniors Richard Stimpson and Adam Skumawitz. Stimpson is a two- time All-Ivy honoree while Skumawitz is a defenseman-turned-forward. "Those two players playing up top are the guys we need to keep a close eye on," Fuller said. "They have other good players as well and they're going to come out strong." Last year against Cornell, Penn lost 1-0 in Ithaca. Goalie Mike O'Connor made four saves but the Quakers couldn't find the net as the Big Red scored midway through the second half. Cornell is coming off a win at home against Colgate. The squad defeated the Red Raiders 1-0 on a Stimpson goal with 10 minutes left in regulation. Senior goalie Dan Demaine recorded his second career shutout. "They, like us, are a younger team who is also looking for their first Ivy win," Fuller said. "I expect a difficult game that will make us a better team." Along with the growing pains that challenging games may bring come positive aspects as well. The play of the freshman continues to improve with each game. Freshman William Libby scored Penn's lone goal in the loss to St. Francis. "The fact that these young players continue to play hard despite setbacks says a lot about this group," Fuller said. However, if the Quakers come out slowly on Saturday, the setbacks could continue. "Each player needs to figure out what buttons he needs to press to get ready before the whistle blows," Fuller said. If Penn comes out ready to play against Cornell and the freshman keep maturing, the growing pains might be short-lived.