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M. Soccer dry spell ends in 2-1 loss

(09/23/99 9:00am)

The Quakers ended a scoreless streak but lost to the Red Flash, who they beat last season. The Penn men's soccer team may have ended its scoring drought but its winning drought continues. At 0-2-2, the Quakers are still looking for their first win of the season, as St. Francis (2-3) outscored the Quakers 2-1 yesterday in Loretto, Pa. "We were a better team," Penn co-captain Reggie Brown said. "But they worked hard, they played hard, they were more into it and they deserved the result." The Quakers problem with scoring is not new. Last year, they scored one goal or less in 14 of 16 games. However, one of those two other games was a 3-1 victory over St. Francis. "The guys are trying 100 percent," co-captain Mike O'Connor said. "They're just having a problem finishing." This season has seen the Quakers show more promise in that they have outshot their opponents in the past two games. Nonetheless, they have still not been able to come up with a win. Against St. Francis, Penn tallied 15 shots while the home team only had nine. "We've been finishing in practice but we can't seem to bring those results into a game," Penn freshman Nathan Kennedy said. "We should be scoring." The Red and Blue also had nine corner kicks to St. Francis' two. But all the statistical advantages in the world do not add up to a win. "We just haven't been getting the breaks," O'Connor said. "A lot is just unlucky." St. Francis got off to a quick start whereas Penn came out flat. Frank Lanns blasted the ball from 15 feet and goalie O'Connor made the initial save, but the ball bounced back to Lanns and the forward was able to score on this second opportunity. "That goal really gave them confidence," O'Connor said. "We came out kind of sluggish and paid for it." St. Francis recorded only two more shots in the half but the damage had been done. "The first goal served as a wake up call for us," Kennedy said. "After that, the game started to turn in our favor." Penn had its share of chances to tie the score. On two different occasions, Quakers forwards hit the post but couldn't put the ball in the net. "After golden opportunities that are missed, we can't get down on ourselves," Brown said. "And that's what might have happened in this situation." St. Francis struck again 30 minutes into the second half. This time, Kevin Kennedy took a nice pass from Mike Giardello and shot the ball from the left side, 10 feet from the goal. "They just passed the ball really well, found the open man and he was able to put it into the open side of the net," O'Connor said. Penn was able to score but it was too little, too late. Freshman William Libby scored with four minutes to go in the game after a scramble for the ball in front of the goal. "We definitely deserved Billy's goal," Kennedy said. We put a lot of pressure on the goalie for almost the entire game. It wasn't pretty, but it got the job done." Penn had a last minute flurry of action in the opponent's goal area but nothing resulted as the final whistle blew. "We continued to fight up until the end, which was positive," Brown said. Last season, the Quakers had their highest goal output of the season in the win against St. Francis, making this loss even more disappointing. "It's very frustrating," O'Connor said. "I would say we were a more skillful team but they played with a lot of heart." Up next for the Quakers is Ivy rival Cornell. Last season Penn lost to the Big Red 1-0. "We will definitely use this game as a motivator for the Cornell game," O'Connor said. "I really think the guys will respond."

M. Soccer looking to score more this season

(09/17/99 9:00am)

So far, the Quakers are showing improvement over their poor scoring pace of the 1998 season. In soccer, two goals in two games is not considered any great feat. But for the Penn men's soccer team, this accomplishment, achieved last weekend, shows that the Quakers (0-1-1, 0-0 Ivy League) are on the right track to rebuilding the program. The Red and Blue hope to add to this rebirth by notching their first win of the season against Ivy rival Dartmouth at Rhodes Field on Saturday. "We have to take advantage of our home games and set a tone with this first one," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "We want opponents to be afraid to play at Rhodes Field." Last year, Penn won its first home game with a 1-0 victory against Temple. Reggie Brown scored the Quakers' only goal. Until that game, Penn was 0-5 and Brown's goal was only their fourth of the season. In fact, it took Penn four games to score its first two goals in 1998. One of those early losses last season was to Dartmouth at Hanover. The 1998 competition was also the third of the season. In that game, then-nationally ranked Dartmouth came out victorious despite Penn taking a 1-0 lead into the half. "Last season, we had the lead but Dartmouth was a more talented team and played up to its potential in the second half," Fuller said. "This year I feel that we have the talent to win the game." The Big Green come into the match 0-2 after losses to Hofstra and Vermont. In fact, they have yet to score a goal as both losses were 1-0 defeats. Dartmouth is 20-10-6 over the past two seasons but returns only two seniors. Fuller, however, is not fooled by the lack of fourth-year players. "With Dartmouth, you know that you're going to get a hard-fought game," he said. "They're young, but they return some players in key positions." Two of these key players are sophomore midfielder Daniel Markman and junior forward Brad Christof. Both are offensive threats that the Quakers need to defend well if they are to win. Fuller points out that the key to last year's loss was losing first and second balls. Dartmouth would not only be the first to balls in the air but also on the ground. "We won many balls in the first half last year [but] we just have to do that for a full 90 minutes," Fuller said. If last weekend was any indication, Penn should show plenty of intensity for the whole game. At the George Mason Tournament in Fairfax, Va., Penn came away with a tie, a loss and a good feeling about the rest of the season. In the first game against James Madison, freshman Nathan Kennedy opened the scoring and the Quakers had a 1-0 lead. James Madison fired back and tied the score but Reggie Brown put Penn ahead again with his first goal of the season. Thirty-two seconds later, however, JMU put one past goalie Mike O'Connor and the game ended in a 2-2 tie. Despite the tie, the Quakers still had a chance to win the tournament if they could have beaten George Mason by more than two goals. Penn had many opportunities in the first half, but could not score. With just over one minute gone in the second half, George Mason put a ball in on a corner. Penn could not respond and lost 1-0. "It's unfortunate we were caught napping on the corner kick, because we really played a solid game and outplayed our competition," Fuller said. Although the Quakers did not win, there were many bright spots to the weekend. O'Connor was named to the All-Tournament team, as was senior Jason Karageorge and freshman Eric Mandel. Mandel, however, was not the only freshman standout. "The performance of all the freshmen was fantastic," Fuller said. "It says a lot about the guys and the depth of the class." With the confidence of the team and the impressive performance of the freshmen, the Quakers could double their total in goals and wins from this time last season by the end of Saturday.

Princeton destroys host W. Lax

(04/22/99 9:00am)

The fourth-ranked Tigers dropped Penn 17-3 as the Quakers finished their 1999 home season winless. The Penn women's lacrosse team hadn't done two things all season. One was win at home on Franklin Field. The other was having every player on the field play with intensity for an entire game. One out of two ain't bad. Although the Quakers lost last night at home to No. 4 Princeton, 17-3, Penn's coaches and players were pleased by the fact that the team fought hard the entire game. "You're not going to find many teams that are going to work hard when they're losing 17-3 and I think it's something that this team did," Penn acting head coach Alanna Wren said. "I've never felt good losing, but if I can walk off the field this positive after a 17-3 defeat, I know my team gave their best effort." With the loss, the Quakers' record drops to 1-11 and 1-5 in Ivy League play. As this contest was Penn's final one at home, the defeat means that the team went winless at Franklin Field for the entire season. Princeton, conversely, upped its record to a commanding 11-3; at 5-0, the Tigers are tied with Dartmouth for the best record in the league. The difference in the teams' records and abilities was evident from the opening whistle. The Tigers opened with an intense attack, netting seven goals in the first 14 minutes of the game. Penn's defense, however, was able to shut down the Princeton attack for the second part of the first half. Although it took the Quakers until the 26:17 mark in the first half to score their first goal, the strong defense gave Penn reason to be encouraged going into the second stanza. "Our defense really clicked today," Penn co-captain Jenni Leisman said. "We've really worked hard on dropping and sliding, which seemed to hold them, especially at the end of the first half." Unfortunately for the Red and Blue, Princeton turned it back on, scoring a goal in the first minute of the second half and extending its lead to 9-1 before Penn responded with a goal of its own. But Princeton would score the next six before the Quakers added their third and final goal. The one bright aspect of Penn's offense was the fact that two freshmen scored the goals. Traci Marabella netted one while Jennifer Hartman had the other two. "We probably could have attacked more," Penn co-captain Brooke Jenkins said. "We should have taken more shots and been more confident on the offensive side." On the other hand, Princeton coach Chris Sailer was happy with all parts of the Tigers' game. "We had good transition in both halves," she said. "We were able to use our speed and get some good transition goals and that really turned the tide. We played at a good pace and a high level of intensity the whole game." Princeton, now riding a six-game winning streak, faces its biggest tests of the season next week when the team faces Ivy co-leader Dartmouth and Maryland, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation. "We're coming into an important stretch in our season and we knew we needed a good performance today," Sailer said. Up next for the Quakers is their final game of the season, against Ivy rival Brown on Saturday. The Bears (6-5, 3-1) are ranked No. 20, which makes the game Penn's fourth consecutive contest against a ranked opponent. Despite Brown's national recognition, the Quakers feel after tonight's game that they have the confidence to pull off an upset. "If we play with tonight's level of intensity, [if we] are solid in the midfield transition, [if] our defense is on and [if] our attack slows down and controls the game, we have a great chance of winning," Leisman said. The boost in confidence is an extreme change from past games where nothing had gone right on the field for Penn. "Everybody has learned a lot about adversity this season," Wren said."They've come through the trenches though, stayed positive and stuck through it." Wren is not only referring to the Quakers record but also to the off-the-field problems they have had to deal with. Wren has led the team for over a month and a half since the Quakers petitioned for the removal of head coach Anne Sage. In their final game of the season, the Quakers will head to Providence to see if they can truly pull through all the adversity and gain their second victory.

W. Lax hopes to avoid breaking loss record

(04/16/99 9:00am)

They say records are made to be broken. The Penn women's lacrosse team hopes to prove this clichZ wrong when it faces Ivy rival Dartmouth, which holds the No. 10 national ranking, on Franklin Field at 7 p.m. A loss to the Big Green will tie the Quakers for the school record for most losses in a season. Despite a 1-9 record (1-3 Ivy League) however, Penn still believes it has the ability to beat the Big Green. "We have so much talent on our team," senior co-captain Jenni Leisman said. "But if every person on the field doesn't decide that today's going to be the day to put it together, we're never going to win." The Quakers' confidence level is at a season low after a 15-3 drubbing at the hands of Rutgers on Wednesday night. The team knows that it must put forth a much better effort than it did against the Scarlet Knights if it has any chance of beating the Big Green. "Hopefully people will play better Friday after feeling so bad after coming off against Rutgers," Leisman said. "Everyone needs to realize that they have to step it up individually, regardless of how good the team we're playing is." And Dartmouth (7-1, 4-0) is quite good. After losing its first game to No. 1 Maryland, the Big Green have rolled off seven straight wins, including four Ivy victories. Dartmouth's success is due to talent in all aspects of the game, especially in the midfield and on attack. Junior midfielder Jacque Weitzel is Dartmouth's top scoring threat. Weitzel and junior Melissa Frazier were first team All-Americans last season and are on their way to that honor again this year. Junior Emily Fenwick adds depth on attack and her play earned her All-Ivy honors in 1998. In its last game, Dartmouth romped over Vermont, 21-1. In the game, Weitzel played less than 20 minutes but still scored two goals to go with six assists. Penn assistant coach Alanna Wren compares the Big Green's style of play to that of Rutgers. Wren has been leading the Quakers since the team petitioned for the removal of head coach Anne Sage before the season a month and a half ago. "They have one of the best players in the country on their attacking end, so it's going to be a bit of the same thing [as the Rutgers game]," Wren said. "We have to drop and double team and contain their high scorers. It's discouraging that it took us [so] long to get it going against Rutgers. If we don't make a conscious decision from minute one, it's going to be the same score." At this point in the season, Wren sees confidence as the Quakers' biggest problem. Despite ongoing difficulties with turnovers, scoring and midfield play, mental toughness seems to be Penn's most prominent obstacle. "The members of the team have to have some confidence in their abilities and execute the game plan we're giving them," Wren said. "The team is playing scared. People aren't willing to make the sacrifice and take the chance and go for it. Something has to give to beat these ranked teams and we're not just gong to beat Dartmouth by playing good old-fashioned normal lacrosse." Even if the Quakers do play a great game and defeat Dartmouth, they still have to face No. 5 Princeton and travel to Brown -- which recently fell from the national rankings -- to end the season. The tough schedule that lies ahead means that Penn must play better than it has so far to avoid breaking the school record for futility in a season. Nevertheless, the Red and Blue have not quit. "It's hard to look at the end of our season and see three nationally ranked teams but I don't think anyone should be giving up yet," Leisman said. The Quakers will discover tonight whether or not they can prevent themselves from falling victim to the clichZ.

W. Lax downed by early barrage from Leopards

(03/31/99 10:00am)

Lafayette's Olivia Long scored four goals as the Quakers stayed winless. "It's getting frustrating." Co-captain Jenny Leisman basically summed up the sentiments of the Penn women's lacrosse team after the Quakers (0-5) lost to Lafayette yesterday, 14-7. The loss was the team's fifth straight to start the season. "We gave up on the game early on," Leisman said. "It seemed like no one cared what was happening when we started to lose. We can't go on like that." The Quaker's attributed the loss to the same aspects of the game that have been plaguing the team all season. "We are still having midfield transition problems," said Penn assistant coach Alanna Wren, who has led the Quakers since the team petitioned the Athletic Department for the removal of head coach Anne Sage prior to the start of the season. "We are able to clear the ball from the goal but we frequently turn the ball over on the second and third pass in attempting to get the ball up to the attack." Wren added that the attack has been playing well but the ball needs to get past the midfield to score. The Quakers have also had problems staying focused for a full game. Lapses in play have also troubled the team. "At the very beginning of the game we came out playing really hard," Leisman said. "Then they scored and our intensity went way down." The Leopards (3-3) needed very little time to score, netting their first goal within five minutes. Lafayette then exploded for four more goals in the next five minutes, taking a 5-0 lead on Olivia Long's second score of the game. "At 5-0, we took a timeout and discussed the situation," Wren said. "The team came out harder after that, but we still weren't thinking. We still had a number of mental lapses." Co-captain Brooke Jenkins scored the Quakers' first goal just under halfway through the first half but Lafayette kept its distance with four more goals before the break. At halftime, the Leopards were on top 9-3. Despite the six-goal deficit, the Quakers came out stronger in the second half. "We were much more aggressive with the ground balls after halftime," Jenkins said. "We really fought for them and beat them to the loose balls." While the Quakers increased their focus, it was Lafayette who managed to score the next three goals. With just over 12 minutes left in the game, the Leopards held a commanding 12-3 lead. Penn battled back to score the next four goals -- including one by sophomore Annie Henderson and one by Jenkins -- before sophomore Erin Murphy netted back-to-back goals to preserve the victory for the Leopards. Long, who had a first-half hat trick, led Lafayette with four goals and an assist. "Long beat us with her speed and ability to beat our players one-on-one," Wren said. "We knew we had to key on her and we just didn't step up." After the game, the team had an intense meeting. Both Wren and new assistant coach Sarah Harris gave their thoughts on the game and the season. It was the co-captains, however, who were even more emotional in speaking to the team. "I told the team that everybody had to look within themselves and ask why they were here," Leisman said. "I also told them that we can definitely bounce back but it has to happen now." Wren added that the team left the meeting with what she hopes is a newfound sense of direction but the true impact of the meeting will not be evident until today's practice and the next game. The Quakers' next contest comes Thursday at Temple, which has dropped from the national rankings with a 1-5 start. The Owls fell to No. 1 Maryland 23-5 yesterday. In spite of their latest loss, the Red and Blue have at least one reason to be encouraged. "This can be used as a learning experience for the large group of young players on our team," Jenkins said. This encouragement was demonstrated in the fact that three of the four freshman starters scored in yesterday's game. After that, there is not much to be excited about. "We're really playing below our ability," Leisman said. "Lafayette was a beatable team and we need to step up."

W. Lax tries for first win tomorrow

(03/25/99 10:00am)

The Penn women's lacrosse team hosts Cornell and Boston College this weekend in search of win No. 1. The Penn women's lacrosse team will make its third and fourth attempts to win its first game of the season this weekend at Franklin Field when the Quakers take on Cornell and Boston College. Penn (0-2, 0-1 Ivy League) lost its first two games of the season to Yale, 11-5, and Stanford, 8-7. In Monday's game against the Cardinal, the Quakers were tied until Stanford scored with just six seconds left in the game. "We played a solid game against Yale," co-captain Jen Leisman said. "But we broke down against Stanford. We did not put forth a solid effort for the entire game." The players insist that team's current coaching situation has not detracted from their focus. As of now, the Quakers have no permanent coach as head coach Anne Sage is on leave and assistant Alanna Wren is guiding the team on an interim basis until the situation is sorted out. "We've been working hard in practices and coach Wren has been great," Leisman said. "Because we've been so focused on practice the coaching situation has not been a distraction." Although the players expected to have the coaching situation worked out by last weekend, they have no choice but to go on with their season. The Quakers host a formidable Cornell (3-0, 1-0) squad tomorrow at 4 p.m., as the Big Red have won their first three games of the season after going 7-7 in 1998. Although the team sees this as a rebuilding year after losing All-Ivy attacker Cari Hills, the Big Red have still seen success in the early part of the season. The team opened the season with a win against Lafayette and then notched its first Ivy win with a victory over Columbia. Cornell's latest win came over Ohio State in a close 10-8 contest. So far, the key to Cornell's success has been the play of its starting defense, which features seniors Amy Chong, Kim Regan and Kristen Wolf. This experienced lineup has only given up an average of seven goals in the Big Red's three games. Jen Chong and Marissa Perman have led the attack with eight and six goals respectively. Last season, Cornell beat the Quakers 15-9. But the Red and Blue vow to be ready for the Big Red this year. "They took us by surprise last year," co-captain Brooke Jenkins said. "They're an up-and-coming team and we have to be ready for them." To prepare for the weekend and prevent a repeat of the mistakes against Stanford, the Red and Blue have focused on playing harder for the entire game during this week's practices. "We played well in spurts," Leisman said. "There were periods of time that we gave up and just let them play their game." The transition game has been another Achilles heel for the Quakers in the early part of the season. "Our defense has been playing well, as has our attack," Jenkins said. "It's just a question of getting the ball from one to the other. Against Stanford, we committed most of our turnovers in the middle of the field." Penn does not really know what to expect from Boston College when the teams meet Sunday at 1 p.m. The Eagles come in with 1-4, with losses to George Mason, Notre Dame, Brown and Harvard. The team's one win came in overtime against Connecticut. "We haven't played the Eagles in a while," Jenkins said. "But if we focus and motivate more, I know we can win." If the Quakers play focused for an entire game this weekend, they stand a good shot at winning and righting their ship. If they do not, however, it could take more than a stable coaching situation to boost their confidence and save the season.

Weekend split for W. Hoops

(03/01/99 10:00am)

The Penn women's basketball team beat Columbia and lost to Cornell in its final Ivy League weekend of the year. The Penn women's basketball team has had its ups and downs this season. This weekend's games epitomized that unpredictability. The Quakers (11-14, 7-6 Ivy League) split their weekend games, beating Columbia 77-67 on Friday, but falling to Cornell 79-74 on Saturday. "We played very well against Columbia," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. "But against Cornell, we expected to win, they wanted the win." The team's disappointment over Saturday's loss was compounded by the fact that the team was mathematically eliminated from the Ivy League championship race when Princeton beat Brown on Friday. Against Columbia (5-20, 2-12), the Quakers played with the same motivation that they played with in wins against Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend. "We had a different respect for them in this game because of their deserved but unexpected wins against Dartmouth and Yale," Soriero said. "We didn't overlook them at all." The Red and Blue began the game with unmatched intensity, taking a 14-3 lead after hitting their first six shots. Penn extended its lead to 22-5 with just over 10 minutes left in the half. The Quakers ended the first stanza leading 45-28, their highest-scoring first half of the season. Sophomore forward Diana Caramanico's distribution of the ball keyed Penn's first-half run. Caramanico lit up the Lions for 34 points and 17 rebounds in their last meeting so Columbia responded by double- and triple-teaming her on Friday. "By pressuring me, the floor really opened up to everybody else," Caramanico said. "I was able to get my teammates the ball and they responded well." Caramanico had 20 points and 17 rebounds, but Mandy West led Penn with 25 points. Freshman Julie Epton added 10 while co-captain Sue Van Stone netted eight. The second half was very similar to the first, with the Quakers passing the ball well. The big difference, though, was Emily Roller's four three-pointers for the Lions in the last 3:58, which made the final score artificially close. Friday's strong play did not carry into Saturday, as the Quakers came out sluggish and out of sync in the first half of the Cornell (11-15, 5-9) game. The Red and Blue had four traveling violations in the first three minutes and took until the 17:39 mark to score. Despite the slow start, the Quakers kept the game close until Cornell went on a 16-10 run to close the half. "We did not play a good first half," Caramanico said. "Our offensive effort was well-balanced much like the night before. The problem was in our defense." The Quakers erased the first half deficit by going on a 12-2 run to begin the second frame. The Big Red battled back to take a 59-58 lead with eight minutes left in the game. Over the last 7:55, the game saw 10 lead changes. Penn took a 74-73 lead with 1:16 to go, but did not score again as Cornell emerged with a 79-74 win. "We were not aggressive enough on defense," Soriero said. "We didn't put pressure on their post players and turned the ball over at critical times. Cornell was determined and certainly deserved this win. We weren't intense enough." With the loss, the Quakers have no shot at equaling their 1997-98 overall record of 13-13, but, with a win over Princeton on Wednesday, the team can tie last year's Ivy record of 8-6. Soriero expressed disappointment over the lack of improvement in this, her final season at Penn. "You always like to take a team and have them grow incrementally each season," she said. "It's too bad that didn't happen this year. We are a better scoring team, but our defensive and floor games didn't improve as much as I would have hoped from last season." In spite of the disappointment, the Quakers can still play the role of spoiler against Princeton. A Red and Blue win would force the Tigers into a tie with Dartmouth. A win would also put the Quakers in sole possession of third place in the Ivies, while a loss puts them into a tie for third with Harvard. And of course, there's always the Penn-Princeton bragging rights at stake. "I don't think we need any extra motivation for Princeton," Caramanico said. "If we do, we're in bad shape."

W. Hoops shocks Dartmouth

(02/22/99 10:00am)

The Penn women's basketball team ended its home season in tremendous fashion this weekend as it beat Harvard on Friday and Dartmouth on Saturday. The victories kept the Quakers (10-13, 6-5 Ivy League) mathematically alive in the Ivy race. "On Friday I challenged the team's pride and on Saturday I questioned their will and they responded on both occasions," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. Although Friday's win over the Crimson was easier than Saturday's victory over the Big Green, both were rewarding. The contest, much like Penn's last game against Harvard (8-14, 5-6 Ivy League), was close from beginning to end. The Quakers started out playing tough defense but were stagnant on offense, tentatively anticipating sophomore Diana Caramanico's 1,000th career point. "The first three or four times down the court we were running plays through Diana with the hope that she would score," Soriero said. "When she didn't we took a timeout and I told the team that the points would come? they seemed to loosen up after that." Penn became more relaxed, and at 10:48 of the first half Caramanico became only the 12th player in Penn history to score 1,000 points. The game stopped as her teammates and parents presented her with flowers and the crowd gave her a standing ovation. "She got it and I'm happy for her," Soriero said. Although Caramanico's achievement was the big news in the Harvard game, the team's performance won accolades as well. "I think Penn played a great game," Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. "When you hold a team to 29 points in the first half, you expect to win the game and Penn was able to do that and we weren't." The Quakers, notorious for their second-half collapses -- including the last one against Harvard, a 60-58 Penn loss on February 6 -- stayed tough in the second stanza to pull out the win. The score was tied at the half, but with 13:17 left in the game, Mandy West drilled a trey to put the team up for good. Standouts for Penn in the Harvard game included not only Caramanico and West but also Erin Ladley, who scored a career-high 18 points. "Erin really played a great game," Soriero said. "She made some key shots and also made some key stops." Any confidence the Quakers might have had after Friday's win did not show in the beginning of Saturday's game against Dartmouth. Conversely, the Big Green, who were coming off a huge win of their own against Ivy-leading Princeton (9-2 Ivy), came out strong, scoring the first five points of the game. Penn came back to take a 6-5, but Dartmouth (15-8, 8-3) simply seemed to want it more, going on a 11-2 run with seven minutes left in the half. The Big Green extended their lead to 12 going into the half. "We were dominated in not one aspect of the game in the first half, we were outplayed in every aspect," West said. Soriero reminded the Quakers that they could win if they played an aggressive game and refused to be intimidated. But at first it looked as if the second half would be the same as the first, as Dartmouth took a 14-point lead with 1:02 gone by in the half. Penn responded with energized play, however, as Ladley nailed a jumper and Jessica Allen hit a quick layup. "We began to put pressure on them and they became tentative," Soriero said. "The large lead seemed to spur us more than it helped them." Penn continued its pressure with a 6-0 run, but Dartmouth followed with its own 11-4 run, to make the Big Green lead 11 once again. But the Quakers refused to quit. The teams traded baskets until a three by Ladley and two treys by West tied the game with 2:37 remaining. Penn then committed two turnovers but the Big Green failed to convert. With 43 seconds to go, Allen made two foul shots to put the Quakers up two. Dartmouth charged back, however, as Nicci Rinaldi went end to end and scored a lay-up with 30 seconds on the clock to send the game to overtime. Dartmouth took a four-point lead to begin overtime but Penn stormed back to tie it with 2:25 to go. Caramanico put the Quakers up for good with a layup at 3:52. Ladley sealed the win with a foul shot with 0.2 seconds left. "It was a really emotional game in many ways," West said. "Dartmouth didn't think they were going to lose and we knew we had the heart to win." The game was sentimental for Soriero, who coached her last game at the Palestra after 10 years leading the Quakers, and for senior Sue Van Stone, playing in her final home game. "The team knew the significance of the game, and I just reminded them of it in the huddle at the beginning of the game," West said. "The win meant that much more because of coach and Sue." The Quakers hope to keep their winning streak alive next weekend when they travel to New York to face Cornell and Columbia. "We just have to keep playing the way we are playing and not get complacent," West said. The Quakers are three games behind league-leading Princeton with three games remaining to play, including the season finale at Princeton.

W. Hoops hopes to do more than just play role of spoiler

(02/19/99 10:00am)

The Quakers need to finish 5-0, while other top teams lose, just to have a shot at winning an Ivy title. The Penn women's basketball team is living on the edge. Another loss and the Quakers' already slim chances at the Ivy League championship will be reduced to nothing. The team's uphill climb begins tonight at the Palestra at 7 p.m. when the Quakers (8-13, 4-5 Ivy League) face Harvard (8-12, 5-4) and continues tomorrow when second-place Dartmouth (14-7, 7-2) comes to town. "I'd like to be in a position where we can control our own destiny," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. "Unfortunately we aren't, but we can only worry about us playing well down the stretch." Soriero added that even if Penn does not win the title, playing well is still important because the team is young and can gain from the experience. Furthermore, the team still has the chance to play the role of spoiler. Before worrying about help from other teams, Penn must improve its own play to have a shot at winning its final five games. The team has been focusing on fundamentals to achieve the victories. "Basics like boxing out are so important and something we haven't been doing," sophomore Diana Caramanico said. "We'll have a sequence where we play great defense but we won't box out and they'll get another look at the basket when there's only one second left on the shot clock." A few things the Quakers once had under control have also emerged as problem areas. "We started out the season very strong in the rebounding department and that has since gone down," Soriero said. "We have to get that back on track and make sure that our opponents get only one shot at the basket." One component of the game that Soriero does see improving is the team's foul shooting. In the Quakers' win against Yale last weekend, Penn shot over 87 percent from the foul line. Despite beating Yale, Penn still finished last weekend 1-1 after a loss to Brown. The Bears defeated the Quakers 74-65, thanks in part to Penn's 28 turnovers -- 11 of which came in the first 10 minutes of play. The Red and Blue recovered from the sloppy start to pull within 11 at the half, but more turnovers in the beginning of the second frame put the game out of reach. The Quakers were able to recover for the next day's game against the Elis, winning 73-62. Penn had a five-point lead at halftime and led by 10 with 2:23 left in the game. The Quakers' strong foul shooting put Yale away in the closing seconds, giving Penn its first win in four games. The Quakers' field goal percentage of 47.5 percent helped their cause as well. The Quakers hope to play as well against Harvard and Dartmouth as they did against Yale this weekend. "Against the Bulldogs, we ran our offense very successfully," Caramanico said. "We didn't panic." Penn knows that Harvard and Dartmouth will be tougher tests than Yale was, however. The Quakers were swept by their New England foes two weeks ago in a pair of close games. Harvard's season has been similar to Penn's, as the Crimson are only up one game on the Quakers in the Ivy Standings. In spite of Dartmouth's strong record, its confidence might be shaken due to an upset at the hands of lowly Columbia last weekend. Dartmouth will also be coming off a huge game against Princeton the previous night, which could lead to a letdown against the Quakers. "We allowed Dartmouth to get on a long, sustained run in the second half when we played them," Soriero said. "We have to be careful that we don't allow that to happen again." The games against the Crimson and the Big Green are also significant because they are the Quakers' last at the Palestra this year. As such, the games are Soriero and senior Sue Van Stone's last home games. Soriero announced her resignation in the middle of the season after coaching at Penn for 10 years. It also means that the Quakers have to go on the road for their last three games of the season. This fact, coupled with the fact that Penn has not had a five-game winning streak since 1994-95, makes the Quakers' uphill climb to the top of the Ivies even steeper.

NOTEBOOK: W. Hoops hopes to play role of spoiler

(02/17/99 10:00am)

While the Quakers Ivy title chances are slim, they will have some say in who wins. With the Penn women's basketball team's record at 4-5 in the Ivy League, Quakers can pretty much count themselves out of the running for the league championship. With five games to go in the season, the Quakers (8-13, 4-5 Ivy League) can only hope to equal last year's overall mark of 13-13. However, with all five games against Ivy opponents, they can better last year's Ivy record of 8-6 by one game if they win out. Sophomore Diana Caramanico sees a slight chance of winning the league. "I give us a 10 to 20 percent chance," Caramanico said. "I'm not being pessimistic about how our team will play, but so much depends how the other teams fare. We need a small miracle." · Penn can play the role of spoiler starting this weekend when the team faces Harvard on Friday and Dartmouth on Saturday. Harvard (8-12, 5-4) also faces an uphill climb to win its fourth consecutive Ivy League title, but Dartmouth (14-7, 7-2) is currently in second place in the standings. The Big Green were tied for first in the Ivy League with Princeton until Columbia upset them last weekend 62-55. The Tigers are now in sole possession of first place. The Lions are 5-16 overall and 2-8 in the Ivies. Their win was only their fourth in the history of the Dartmouth-Columbia series. If Princeton wins the league, it will be the Tigers' first championship in 14 years -- Princeton shared the 1984-85 title with Brown. If Dartmouth takes the crown, the championship will be its first in four years and 11th overall. The two powerhouses face off on Friday at Princeton. · The Red and Blue lost to these same Ivy opponents two weeks ago in a pair of tight contests on the road. Against the Big Green, the Quakers played a close game through much of the contest and went into the half down by two. Penn did not score for the last 1:38 of the game, however, and lost to Dartmouth, 77-63. The game against the Crimson was even closer. The Quakers took a two-point lead into the half on a last second three-pointer by junior guard Mandy West. Penn held on to the lead until there were eight minutes left in the game. At that point, the Quakers turned the ball over twice and saw Harvard score six points in a row. The Quakers kept it close and were down by only one with 13 seconds to go, but sophomore Erin Ladley missed a last-second shot that would have sent the game to overtime. · Diana Caramanico is this week's Ivy League Player of the Week. She scored 33 points against both Brown and Yale and recorded her 500th career rebound against the Bears. She is also one point away from totaling 1,000 for her career and is on pace to become the first Quaker -- man or woman -- to score 2,000 career points. Caramanico received the player of the week award only two weeks after teammate West won the prize. Harvard and Dartmouth are the only other teams in the Ancient Eight to have two different players win the award this season. Caramanico leads the league in both scoring and rebounding. She averages 28.1 points in Ivy games and 22.6 overall. Her closest competitor, teammate Mandy West, scores 19.1 in Ivy action and 19.7 overall. She also brings down 12.4 boards a game, whereas Columbia's Shawnee Pickney, who is second in the league, only tallies eight per contest. Do these tremendous numbers make Caramanico the Ivy League Player of the Year? "A lot will be determined by how we finish in the standings," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. "The player of the year is many times the player who best leads her team down the stretch. If Diana finishes strong and the team finishes strong, and other players stumble, she could certainly win." · Saturday's game versus Dartmouth will be marked with emotion for the Quakers. First, it is senior night for co-captain Sue Van Stone, Penn's only fourth-year player. The game will also be Soriero's last home game at the Palestra. Soriero is resigning at the end of the season after coaching the Quakers for 10 years. "The game will be emotional for me at least, walking off the Palestra floor for the last time," Soriero said. "The team just has to stay focused on the game like we have been doing since I made the announcement."

NOTEBOOK: W. Hoops hopes to rekindle win streak

(02/10/99 10:00am)

The Penn women's basketball team will try to start another winning streak this weekend after seeing its four-game string come to an end last weekend in losses to both Dartmouth and Harvard. The Quakers' opponents -- Yale and Brown -- are familiar, as Penn has already faced both teams this season. The Red and Blue beat the Elis 70-64 and lost to the Bears 77-72 in these previous meetings, both of which came on the road. · Yale and Brown have both been streaky this season. The Elis won their first four games of the season and proceeded to go on a 10-game losing streak that included the loss to Penn. Yale won its next three before losing to Columbia and then beating Cornell in double overtime last weekend. Brown has won its last three, including wins over Columbia and Cornell last weekend. The Bears have also beaten Harvard, which Penn lost to over the weekend, 70-68. But Penn has also been streaky. Its four-game winning streak equaled last year's high. The Quakers began 1998-99 by losing their first four games. Last season, Penn never dropped four games in a row. · Like this year, Penn spent last Valentine's Day weekend playing Yale and Brown. The Quakers lost to the Elis 66-43 and defeated the Bears 73-70 in 1998. Penn's '97-98 season record against Yale was 0-2, while the team ran up a 2-0 mark against Brown. This year, the Quakers can sweep the season series against Yale, and, at best, split the series with Brown. · One player who welcomes Brown and Yale into the Palestra is Diana Caramanico. Caramanico scored a career-high 37 points at Brown on January 9 after netting 30 against Yale the night before. "Against Yale, I wanted to go strong to the basket because I knew they had good post players," Caramanico said. "I just took the same philosophy with Brown." Caramanico, however, expects Brown to make adjustments. She believes that the Bears probably will not press as frequently as they did and that she will be forced to pass the ball more. · Caramanico is the leading scorer in the Ivy League, with Mandy West right behind her in second. Together they have scored a large chunk of the Quakers' points in all of Penn's games. In Ivy contests, they have scored over 50 percent of the points in every game. Against Yale and Brown they accounted for 79 percent and 71 percent of the points, respectively. This weekend, in the contest versus Dartmouth, the dynamic duo put in 80 percent of Penn's points. The statistics show, however, that an equal or unequal distribution of scoring does not really determine whether Penn wins or loses. For example, in wins against Columbia and Cornell, the two scored 56 and 61 percent of the points, respectively. But they had one of their biggest scoring games in the Yale win. In addition, in the loss to Harvard, West and Caramonico only scored 59 percent of the team's points. But the Quakers also lost to Dartmouth when they scored 50 of 62 total points.

W. Hoops goes for record win streak

(02/05/99 10:00am)

Penn can set a new team mark of six straight wins by taking two up north. The Penn women's basketball team hopes that the cold weather it encounters this weekend will not cool off its hot play of the last two weeks. The Quakers try to continue their tremendous play as they travel north to face Dartmouth tonight and Harvard tomorrow. Penn has won four in a row, equaling last season's longest winning streak. "We're definitely more confident than we've been all year," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. "It's nice to win at home and on the road." The Quakers (7-10, 3-2 Ivy League) started their winning streak on the road against Bucknell and continued their string with three more wins at the Palestra over Army, Cornell and Columbia. Despite the string of victories, the team knows that this weekend's games will be challenging. "Harvard and Dartmouth are a lot better than Cornell and Columbia," sophomore forward Diana Caramanico said. Unlike last weekend's opponents, both Harvard (6-10, 3-2) and Dartmouth (11-6, 4-1) have winning records in the Ivy League. In addition, both opponents have individuals at the top of statistical categories. The Crimson's Laela Sturdy leads the conference in field goal percentage, hitting at a .576 clip, while Dartmouth's Courtney Banghart is fourth in the league in scoring and second in three-point shooting, draining 40.6 percent of her shots. Because of the tough opponents, Penn knows it has to concentrate on its own play. "We're focusing on what we need to do," senior co-captain Sue Van Stone said. "We think that if we take care of business on our end, we can beat both teams." One area where the Quakers are concerned with taking care of business is in their defensive intensity. "We have to be more crisp on defense," Caramanico said. "We have to box out on every play, come with help guarding at the right times with the right person and basically play with the principles we've been taught all year." The Red and Blue have looked at their opponents' previous games and believe that a solid defensive game will lead to a victory. "In Harvard's loss to Yale, they turned the ball over 25 times, and Yale had 15 steals," Soriero said. "Yale put a really good defensive effort into the game, so I think if we play great defense and rebound, we put ourselves in a good position." This season's Harvard team is very different from last year's. The Crimson, two-time defending Ivy champions, lost several key players, including starting point guard Megan Basil and Allison Feaster -- Harvard's all-time leading scorer -- who now plays for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. Penn hopes to take advantage of the Crimson's youth and inexperience. After leaving Cambridge, Mass., the Quakers face what could be a hostile environment in Hanover, N.H. Penn players believe that if they can stop the Big Green on offense, however, the crowd will be less of a factor. To add to the home-court advantage, Dartmouth is on a roll, winning nine of its last 10 games. Last year Penn and Dartmouth split their season series, with both teams winning at home. "Dartmouth has some momentum, so I think we need to concentrate on our defense and hope we can generate offense off of our defense," Soriero said. To aid this intensity, practices this week have consisted of an emphasis on both effort and focus. "We've been doing drills to try to read their defense, including breaking the press," co-captain Mandy West said. The Quakers are concentrating on their defensive play because offensively they have been unstoppable. Penn boasts the top two scorers in the conference in Caramanico and West. Caramanico is averaging 20.7 points a game while West is scoring 19.8 a game. West was also named Ivy League Player of the Week after scoring 31, 28 and 15 points in the Quakers' last three victories. "I don't see any reason why I should drop my level of play," West said. "The amount I score depends on how I'm guarded, but if I'm double and triple teamed, I hope to get it to the people that are scoring." If the Quakers can keep up the scoring and focus on defense, they should be able to heat up those cold New England nights and extend their winning streak to six.

Runs make all the difference for W. Hoops

(01/27/99 10:00am)

The Penn women's basketball team had a 19-2 first-half run and then responded well when Army came back. For the Penn women's basketball team, one of this season's themes could be "live by the run, die by the run." In many games during the first half of the season, the Quakers died by the scoring run, relinquishing large leads only to wind up on the losing end at the buzzer. This week, however, Penn has been living by the run, winning two games in a row. Their latest victory, a 73-61 defeat of Army last night at the Palestra, featured several runs by both teams. The difference in this game was that the Quakers were able to stop Army's runs and simultaneously create some of their own. "To stop the runs we talked about our defense having to do the job and if we could get a defensive hold, we'd be able to generate our offense," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. "We can't panic, we just have to realize and do what got us the 20-point lead in the first place." The first long scoring streak was a 19-2 run by Penn to put the Quakers up 43-21. But Army quickly countered with a run of its own, scoring the last 11 points of the first half and the first eight points of the second half to pull within three and remind the Quakers of numerous blown leads this season. Penn, however, stayed composed and never allowed Army to take the lead. After stopping Army's second-half momentum, the Quakers pulled ahead by 10 with 7:28 left in the game and never looked back. "I think we played with more confidence than in past games where we let leads slip away," senior co-captain Sue Van Stone said. "We recognized that we were clearly a better team and at no point did we ever start to play scared." The Army game was the second in a row where the Quakers were able to stop an opponents' run before Penn's lead completely evaporated. Against Bucknell last Saturday, the Quakers held a six-point lead with 2:24 left in the game. But the Bison were able to cut that lead to two with 30 seconds left. Penn, however, was able to hold on for the victory. "I think the Bucknell win really helped us a lot for the Army game, and now we can build off both these games," Van Stone said. The explanation for the Quakers' ability to stop harmful runs by their opponents is both mental and physical. "Every game we know that we go through these lapses, now we're able to recognize when we start to slump and we pull together," Penn center Jessica Allen said. "We used to get down on ourselves when we lost a lead. Now we are able to channel our negative feeling and remember that we can still win the game." The Quakers made physical adjustments as well. For example, when the Knights went on their run at the beginning of the second half, Army was able to double-team and shut down forward Diana Caramanico, who had scored 17 points in the first half. Penn responded to this strategy by distributing the ball along the perimeter, and thus crushing the run. "They made an adjustment in the second half and kept it a little tighter in the paint," Van Stone said. "We were a little slow to recognize that, but soon found other ways of scoring." With these mental and physical improvements, the Quakers have no reason to believe they cannot continue to stop opponents in their tracks when they start to run.

W. Hoops shoots for first Palestra win

(01/26/99 10:00am)

The Penn women's basketball team seeks to build on the momentum it started in a Saturday win over Bucknell. Many college basketball fans will tell you that the famed Palestra traditionally gives its home teams one of the biggest home-court advantages in the country. For the Penn women's basketball team, however, this assertion has proved anything but true. Fourteen games into the season, the Quakers (4-10) have yet to win a game at home. The team will make its fifth attempt at that elusive victory tonight at 7 p.m. when Penn hosts Army. "All of our difficult games have been at home," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. "We played Villanova and La Salle close and took Princeton to overtime." The Quakers should have an easier time with Army (6-15), which has struggled more this year than any of Penn's previous home opponents. The Knights have lost five of their last six and were trounced by Holy Cross in their last outing, 80-43. Holy Cross put Army away behind a 13-0 run that pushed its advantage to 32-11 with 5:38 left in the first half. The Crusaders, who shot 50 percent from the floor in both halves, led 45-19 at the break. They coasted the rest of the way as all 12 players broke into the scoring column. Army was led by senior co-captain Karen Callahan's seven points, while Therese Kelley and Christina Canelli added six apiece as the Knights were held to a season-low 43 points. Conversely, Penn had a solid showing in its last game, beating Bucknell 56-53 on Saturday. The game was the first since Soriero announced that this season would be her last as Penn's coach. The Quakers responded in fine form, shooting 40 percent from the field and outrebounding the Bison 45-34. Diana Caramanico and Mandy West led the team with 17 points each. Caramanico also pulled down 14 rebounds. If the Quakers can put in another strong performance tonight, they will win two games in a row for the first time all season. Kelley and Laura Worthing are the two key players on Army that will try to stop the Quakers from gaining momentum. Kelley is a forward averaging 12.4 points a game. Worthing, a guard, is just behind at 12.3. This balanced scoring combination from the perimeter and post positions could prove to be a problem for Penn. This game marks the beginning of a crucial stretch for the Quakers in which seven of their next nine games are at home and eight of the next nine are against Ivy League opponents. Contests against Cornell and Columbia are the most imminent as the Quakers play these two league foes back-to-back this Friday and Saturday. If Penn can beat the Knights and get this string of important games off to a good start, the Quakers may have a shot at ending their Palestra jinx and turning their season around just in time.

W. Hoops is a road winner over Bison

(01/25/99 10:00am)

The Penn women's basketball team beat Bucknell in its first game since coach Julie Soriero announced she is resigning. The Penn women's basketball team was able to put aside its second-half woes Saturday as it held on to beat Bucknell 56-53. The win snapped a two-game skid for the Quakers, who are now 4-10. "We responded very well to their runs in the second half," Penn senior co-captain Sue Van Stone said. "In previous games, when a team got momentum we couldn't do anything to stop it, but Saturday we didn't let them take control." The Quakers -- who made many key stops throughout the game -- were especially effective at shutting down the Bison in the second half. With 6:54 left in the game and Penn only up by two points, the Quakers made a number of defensive holds to maintain their lead. Sophomore guard Elisabeth Alexander hit a jumper for Penn to break a 39-39 tie. The Red and Blue then proceeded to hold the Bison without a field goal for the next five minutes. With 1:36 left in the game, Bucknell center Vicki Quimby hit a layup to keep the Bison in the game. However, the Quakers made their last six free throws to seal the victory. "In other games, when the score was tied or even when we were up by one or two, we would get tentative and something would go wrong," Penn co-captain Mandy West said. "But against Bucknell, we maintained our defensive pressure, responded well to their press, and hit our shots when we needed to." Penn also sustained its intensity on the boards throughout the game, outrebounding Bucknell 45 to 34, including a 24-to-19 edge on the boards in the second half. Van Stone and sophomore forward Diana Caramanico grabbed some key rebounds down the stretch to keep Penn in the lead, again preventing a second half collapse. "The difference in this game was that when the Bison kept themselves in the game, we played with less of a panic situation," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. According to Soriero, the team's shooting percentage and balanced scoring were also keys to the Quakers' win. Penn shot 41 percent in the second half while holding Bucknell to 35 percent from the field. In addition, three Quakers scored in double digits and a fourth finished with nine points. "We've learned this season that [Caramanico] and I can't go and score an outstanding amount of points and [have] the rest of the team not contribute and still come away with a win," West said. "When the points are distributed well like they were in the Bucknell game, the team stands a much greater chance for a win." The win was important for other reasons besides the fact that it gave Penn momentum going into a week with three home games. The game against the Bison was the first for the team after Soriero announced that this season would be her last at Penn. "Her announcement really kept us focused," West said. "It got the team to come together and because coach was so truthful with us, it hasn't been an issue." Despite West's comments, Soriero was impressed with her team's play after the emotional week. "I applaud their ability to keep their focus," Soriero said. "I stressed that there are a lot of games left to go in the season and the team should continue to play hard. I'm glad they responded." Van Stone kept Soriero's message in the back of her mind during Saturday's game. "Coach always tells us to come to the court each day, play hard and win," Van Stone said. "That's what we're going to continue to do."

W. Hoops needs to work out chronic second-half woes

(01/20/99 10:00am)

The Penn women's basketball team has repeatedly lost games after blowing second-half leads. For the Penn women's basketball team, the prescription for a win is simple: don't fade in the second half. Unfortunately, this formula has occurred only three times so far this season. Many of Penn's losses have come after the team either blew a halftime lead or let a game get out of reach late in the second half. This pattern began in the team's first game of the season against Villanova on November 14 and continued Monday against Lafayette. What makes the problem even worse is that the team has yet to figure out a solution. "We really don't know what's wrong," sophomore forward Diana Caramanico said. "But it's happened so much we're really in need of solving it." In Villanova, Penn (3-10) was tied at the half with the Wildcats, but lost by 10 due in large part to three consecutive turnovers in the second half. In Monday's game, the Quakers held a 36-28 halftime lead over the Leopards, but were outscored 53-33 in the second half and lost 81-69. Poor execution on defense and a four-minute scoring drought in the last five minutes of the game led to this defeat. "We're more prone to hitting both defensive and offensive lapses in the second half," Caramanico said. "And when we hit an offensive lapse, it affects our defense and vice versa." The Quakers' efforts to solve their second-half woes have included different attitudes on the court as the game progresses. "We've tried getting on each other when players make mistakes, we've tried taking a more relaxed approach," Caramanico said. "Our mental focus just isn't there." When the Quakers do equal their first half performance in the second frame, the result is a victory. In the win against Stetson, the Quakers scored 42 points in the first half and 43 in the second. While Stetson was able to cut into the Quakers' lead in the second half, Penn's strong offensive performance throughout the game preserved the victory. In the Red and Blue's only Ivy win of the season, Penn was tied with Yale at the half, but then outscored the Bulldogs 38-32 in the second half for the win. In their three wins, the Quakers have been able to retain momentum in the second half and keep it throughout the entire game. "In our losses, we lose our momentum and always struggle to get it back," Caramanico said. This kind of momentum swing occurred in what was perhaps the team's most deflating loss of the season. In the Quakers third game of the season, the team held an 18-point lead over Temple. But the Owls gained the momentum and overcame the Red and Blue, eventually winning 81-75. Despite the major concern over this aspect of Penn's game, the Quakers have yet to find a remedy. If they don't overcome the problem soon, the Quakers second half of the season could be as bad as the second half of their games.

Overmatched W. Hoops not discouraged by loss

(12/15/98 10:00am)

A strong St. Joe's squad pulled away from the Quakers late in the first half and did not look back. Although its win-loss record is moving in the wrong direction, the Penn women's basketball team still sees itself as moving forward. Penn's 69-50 loss to St. Joseph's (5-4, 3-0 Big Five) on Saturday at the Palestra did not dampen the Quakers' (1-6, 0-4) spirits, as they continue to make note of improvements in their play. "We ran our offenses better, we played more consistent defense and we shot our free throws well," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. "Overall, we played hard for 40 minutes." The players agreed as a whole that they played well, but Penn simply lost to a better team with more offensive weapons. "They got the shots where they wanted them," Soriero said. Melissa Coursey led the Hawks with 19 points and got good looks at the basket throughout the game. Coursey three times drained three-pointers from the left side, her favorite shot. Although the Quaker defense was able to do a better job guarding her in the second half, she had already found a shooting groove. The first half of play was even between the two schools. By the end of the first 20 minutes both teams had 15 rebounds apiece and field goal percentages hovering around 40 percent. The only uneven statistic was in the three-point category, as St. Joe's had five to the Quakers' two. That accounted for the 36-26 lead that the Hawks took into the locker room at the break. Though they never led in the first half, the Quakers kept it close throughout, cutting the St. Joe's lead to two with 11 minutes to go and three with three minutes left in the opening stanza. That margin, however, was the closest the Quakers would come to the Hawks, who have won all 24 of the meetings between the two teams. The second half saw St. Joe's pull away. Penn shot only 29 percent from the field, just half of St. Joe's 58 percent. "We hit one of our notorious scoring lapses midway through the second half," Penn co-captain Mandy West said. "We did delay it, because usually we hit one right before the end of the first half, but we still stopped scoring for a long time." Nonetheless, Soriero is quick to point out that while Penn did lapse offensively, the team did a good job of playing strong defense and keeping the game within reach. "We need to learn to make stops and generate offense from our strong defense," Soriero said. "But if we're not getting the offense, it's even more important that we play tough defense." One of the reasons that the Quakers might not be getting the offensive production is due to a switch in the backcourt. Starting with last weekend's game against La Salle, Soriero moved Erin Ladley to shooting guard and West to point guard, a position she has not played since high school. "The change will give our offense more of a boost," Soriero said. That statement may prove true in the long run, but West scored far below her season average in the two games since the change. Entering the La Salle game with a 20.2 average, West scored a total of 28 points against the Explorers and Hawks. Her shot attempts have also decreased, as she only attempted 11 field goals on Saturday. Nevertheless, with West playing the point, the Quakers' goal of a balanced offense has proved more tangible. Against St. Joe's, Diana Caramanico led all scorers with 21, Ladley posted 12 and Liz Alexander had five. "The change will not have an effect on my scoring overall," West said. "As the season progresses and I get more comfortable, I'll be able to score more." Soriero added that the Quakers have added two or three offensive sets to their scheme to help create more open looks for West. "It is hard to judge how the switch will effect us against a team like the Hawks," West said. "They are probably the best team we'll play all year. They have great players and a great coach, so it was hard for me to get an open look at the basket all day." Regardless of the caliber of play that the Quakers face, they do not seem intimidated by their opponents. "The team always focuses on the next game, not the last game," Soriero said. "I'm happy with the things I'm seeing, we just need to be more consistent with them."

W. Hoops looks to end 25-year drought

(12/11/98 10:00am)

The Penn women's basketball team hopes to improve its 0-23 record all time against Big 5 rival St. Joseph's, which visits the Palestra tomorrow afternoon. Talk to a player on any Penn team and she'll probably tell you that the Ivy League games are the most important contests of the season. That statement holds true for members of the Penn women's basketball team, who despite a 1-5 record and a two-game losing streak, believe that they will be ready for the Ivy season when they face Princeton at home on January 4. But first, the Quakers have three games to improve their play, starting Saturday against St. Joseph's (4-4) at the Palestra at 1 p.m. "We're making progress," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. "When I look back and see how we were playing at this time last year and see how we are playing this year, I am very encouraged." Soriero should be pleased. Last season the Quakers were 2-6 by the middle of December, with losses to St. Joseph's, La Salle and Villanova by 46, 49 and 44 points, respectively. This year Penn was only defeated by 10 and seven points, respectively, in the Villanova and La Salle contests. "Against Temple [an 81-75 loss] we played great for 32 minutes, but we now know that that's not going to be enough," Soriero said. "We also had a good second half versus LaSalle, but we have to play a full forty. These lessons are tough to handle when we lose, but I'd rather lose now than in January." In the game against LaSalle, the team also showed its progress as far as balanced scoring is concerned. While Mandy West still led the way with 20 points, Diana Caramanico had eight, Erin Ladley had seven and Sue Van Stone had six. While the team hopes for even more production out of those players, the even distribution is an improvement. Against St. Francis, Caramanico and West scored 45 of Penn's 60 points. "I believe we're on check for the Ivy League games," Caramanico said. "As long as we keep working hard on the little parts of our game, we'll be ready in January." Some of the smaller aspects of the game that the team is striving to improve include being more aggressive with the ball, pivoting with the ball and creating more space on the court. Regardless of the Red and Blue's hard work and improvements, they are going to have their hands full with St. Joe's. The Hawks are 2-0 in Big 5 competition after defeating Villanova 55-54 on Wednesday night. A win tomorrow would put the team in the lead for the Big Five championship. The Hawks have beaten the Quakers in their last 23 meetings. Last season, Penn turned the ball over 39 times and had three offensive rebounds to the Hawks' 20, as host St. Joe's won by 46 points. Thus, the team has to hope for a turnaround similar to its games against 'Nova and LaSalle. St. Joseph's prides itself on its tenacious defense and balanced scoring attack. "We cannot give in to their defensive pressure," Soriero said. "We cannot turn the ball over, but at the same time we have to be aggressive and not back down." As for the distribution of scoring, Penn must concentrate primarily on three players: Melissa Courey, Angela Zampella and Jana Lichnerova. Courey and Zampella play from the guard position while the 6'4" Lichnerova stands tall the post. "They have a nice combination of scorers," Soriero said. "We have to do our best to shut them down at both ends of the court." While Penn works on balancing its scoring, the Hawks have already accomplished this goal. Courey scores 12.5 points a game, Zampella adds 12.4 and Lichnerova puts in 11. Although the Quakers desperately want a win this Saturday, they can find some solace in a defeat. They know that if they keep working and improving, they will be ready when the Ivy League season kicks into high gear January 4.

W. Hoops begins road stretch with Towson

(11/18/98 10:00am)

After a loss to Villanova last Saturday, the Penn women's basketball team looks for a win at Towson. Despite an impressive debut at Villanova on Saturday, the Penn women's basketball team is still looking for their first win of the season. The Quakers (0-1) make their second attempt at a victory tonight at Towson (0-0). "I thought for a season opener we played as well as we could have for that level of competition," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. "There were times we could have played better, but I was happy." The 64-54 score was much better than last year's 99-55 loss to the Wildcats. Nevertheless, Penn believes it can improve further. "The performance was encouraging, but it could have been better," co-captain Sue Van Stone said. "Villanova was a very winnable game." Throughout the Villanova game, the Quakers were erratic. For example, co-captain Mandy West was 0-7 from three point range but 10-10 at the foul line. "Our consistency could have been better," Stone said. "We had moments when we played really well, but we have to play a full forty minutes that well." The consistency problem might be due to the fact that the Quakers are inexperienced playing together. West learned the system last year while sitting the sidelines as an ineligible transfer from Boston College, but was new to the floor, and there are two other new starters including sophomore center Jessica Allen. "Consistency is a big problem still because we're young, and we're not completely comfortable playing with each other," West said. The Quakers must also improve on concrete aspects of the game including running solid offensive and defensive plays. "There were times against Villanova that we could have defended better against the screen as well as setting our own screens," Soriero said. "When we play Towson we have to continue our aggressive defense and keep up our good rebounding." The game tonight is Towson's home opener so Soriero warns that the Quakers must be ready to play against a fired up team. The Quakers under Soriero have never played the Tigers but Penn has a good indication of how Towson plays from video. "We know that sometimes Towson fails to play strong defense and those are the times we have to step in and take advantage of their mental lapses," Soriero said. The Tigers best player is junior guard Shniece Perry. Last season, Perry was All-American East second team and scored 8.9 points a game while leading the team with a .460 field goal percentage and 8.1 rebounds a game. Penn must also look out for 6'2" center Jess Gordon who scored 9.7 points a game last season. Like the Quakers, Towson is young and improving and posted a 15-13 record last season. Although the Quakers are taking Towson and the rest of their non-conference opponents seriously, the team has an eye out for January 4 when it starts its Ivy League season against Princeton. "Even though these games are very important, they are all building blocks for the Ivy League," West said. "We hope to peak in January when we start playing our in-conference games." Until then, the Quakers hope to gel and become more comfortable playing with and depending on each other. "I think we have to use all of our weapons," Van Stone said. "Right now, we get very focused on certain plays and don't use all of our options. As we get more comfortable with the offense we're running and the defensive schemes we'll find more opportunities within our sets and once we do that we'll score a lot more." The Quakers know that they have a lot to work on before they begin to play to their potential, but a win tonight would be a push in the right direction.

Volleyball heads to Providence with a No. 5 seed in Ivy tourney

(11/13/98 10:00am)

This weekend the Penn volleyball team hopes history repeats itself. In 1989, the Quakers, ranked fifth in the Ivy league, beat favorite Yale to win the Ivy league title. The Red and Blue, seeded fifth again this year, travel to Providence, R.I., this weekend to play Princeton in the first round, hoping to rekindle some of that 1989 magic and win the Ivy League title. "We are as ready as we're going to be," Penn coach Kerry Major said. The Quakers (9-14, 2-5 Ivy League) gained confidence with an encouraging showing at the Yale Tournament last weekend. In New Haven, the Quakers beat Manhattan 3-1 and Colgate 3-2. Penn was even more encouraged after good practices during the week in which the team worked on weaknesses from the weekend including short passing and blocking on the right side. The Quakers face rival Princeton (15-10, 5-2) in the first round of the tournament. The Tigers won the regular season meeting 3-0, by game scores of 15-4, 15-12, 15-3. "We played the Tigers and all of the Ivy teams so early in the season," Major said. "We have improved so much since then." In the last match against Princeton, it was passing errors that killed Penn. The team recorded a 1.2 passing statistic out of a possible three, meaning most balls were unhittable. The Quakers know that in the re-match the passing game cannot falter. Defense will be the other key to a Penn win. "Our defense must be indomitable," Major said. "We must be able to get all the balls up at all times during the match." The Quakers are playing with more confidence this time as well. Mental toughness has been a primary concern throughout the season. The team believes that it has overcome that obstacle. "We're as mentally ready as we can be," Major said. "We've always been ready to win the tournament," senior Sue Sabatino said. "We are more confident in ourselves, and I know if we put all aspects of our game together, we can win the tournament." If the Red and Blue should falter during the Princeton match, they will still be alive because the tournament is double elimination. Major, however, concedes that it is hard to win the tournament playing through the losers' bracket. Win or lose, the Quakers will play either Dartmouth or Cornell in the second round. Penn defeated Cornell 3-0 two weeks ago while they lost to Dartmouth 3-0 early in October. Dartmouth is favored in this match, so even if Penn beats Princeton, the Quakers know they have a hard road in front of them. One disadvantage the Quakers face is the loss of senior middle blocker Karen Lewis. Lewis, who has helped the team greatly this season, has a sprained ankle and is not expected to play. Freshman Kelly Szczerba is expected to take her place. "Szczerba covers really well, but we will miss Karen because of her experience," Major said. In practice on Wednesday, Major read the November 1989 copy of Pennsport magazine about the volleyball team to motivate her players. If the Quakers can take this motivation and put all aspects of the game together, perhaps one day a coach will read to her team about the 1998 Penn Quakers.