The Penn men's swimming team battles more than Cornell in its first meet on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., in Ithaca, N.Y. The team also faces the loss of five seniors, an unfamiliarity with the facility and a Cornell team that traditionally starts the season fast. "It's always a tough match-up," Penn coach Kathy Lawlor-Gilbert said. "Last season, both teams swam well." Last year's result, however, does not give much insight into Saturday's meet because many of the swimmers who won events last year for Penn were seniors. Although Lawlor-Gilbert admitted that the departure of five top swimmers will have an impact on the team, "experience is gained by competing," she said. "As the season goes on, the net effect of five seniors leaving will diminish. How much of an effect it is now, we'll find out on Saturday," she added. To compensate for the loss, Gilbert expects the team to swim "as aggressively and as tough as they possibly can." She hesitated to make any concrete predictions or set expectations for the meet due to the youth of the team and the fact that, for many Penn swimmers, this match is their first meet. "I'm not big on making predictions, but I do expect the squad to give everything they've got and I would hope that's how they will approach the competition," Lawlor-Gilbert said. The team also faces another obstacle in that most swimmers are unacquainted with the conditions at Cornell, which can cause problems. "We haven't been up there (to Ithaca) in a number of years, so our squad is really unfamiliar with the facility," Gilbert said. In addition, Cornell has started off their season quickly in recent years. Gilbert is unable to explain the trend, but she points to rumors of different training methods than those of the Quakers as a possible reason. "Cornell is always fast early in the season, and we always swim tough," Gilbert said. "If you look at the whole season, we get faster as the year goes on, so that's a little bit of a worry (for this weekend)." To combat Cornell's trend, Gilbert simply wants her squad to be as "prepared as possible for a tough competition." Last season, however, Penn had a fast start to its season, winning four of its first five meets. One of those wins came at Cornell's expense, as the Quakers beat the Big Red, 130-113. The win was Penn's first over Cornell in five years. The convincing victory was not indicative of the similar records with which the teams finished. Last season, Penn was 6-5 overall, with a 4-5 record in the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League. Cornell posted a 5-5 record, 4-5 in the EISL. Despite the adverse conditions facing Penn at its first meet, Gilbert believes she has a "pretty good straight up squad" that will do its best to prove itself on Saturday.
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The Quakers' forwards continued to struggle as in the season's second-to-last match. The Penn men's soccer team's scoring woes continued yesterday as it was blanked, 2-0, by Lehigh at Rhodes Field, raising the Quakers' number of shutout losses this season to six. Despite the defeat, disappointed Penn coach George O'Neill had nothing negative to say about his team. "I thought we played as well as Lehigh, maybe even better," O'Neill said. "But they got two goals." Lehigh coach Dean Koski also hesitates to call the Engineers the superior team. "I'm not going to say we're the better team, because Penn has a good team," Koski said. "But today, we were better." The first half of the game was uneventful with most of the action occurring in midfield. Both teams had trouble controlling the ball, leading to few scoring opportunities for either side. As a result, the two goalies had no real tests in the first half, as most of Penn's shots came from outside the 18-yard box and sailed over the goal. The first minutes of the second half were as inconsequential as those in the first, with the only excitement occurring when Engineers forward Gus Zangrilli became tangled up with Quaker midfielder David Bonder, resulting in a yellow card for Zangrilli. However, 12 minutes into the half, Lehigh capitalized on a scoring opportunity. Engineers sophomore forward Kevin Jackson carried the ball down the right sideline, passing to Zangrilli. Zangrilli centered the ball to senior forward Mario Monfardini who shot the ball right past Quakers goalie Michael O'Connor. The Engineers (6-4-1) might have increased their lead minutes later had freshman Austin Deng not broken up a three-on-two breakaway in Lehigh's favor. While the Brown and White profited from their shot opportunities, Penn could not. A give-and-go play, ending in a Reginald Brown shot was saved by Lehigh goalie Nick DiCello, as was a crisp shot by Matt Huebner. "We had some chances to score," O'Neill said. "We just didn't take them." Lehigh added an insurance goal with 10 minutes left in the game. With the Quakers defense pushed up past midfield, Engineers midfielder Andrew Mittendorf was left unguarded. Jackson cleared the ball to Mittendorf and the midfielder drove down the left side of the field, shooting the ball past O'Connor and in the far corner. The goal was Mittendorf's 12th of the year and Jackson's two assists were his 13th and 14th of the season. Penn senior captain Read Goodwin feels that the second goal could not have been prevented. "When you're trying to catch up, you push the defense up, and their offense was hanging out at midfield the whole game," Goodwin said. "There's not really much you can do about that." "It's hard to shut down our midfielders and forwards for 90 minutes," Koski said. "Sooner or later, they're going to wear you down, and if you give them any breathing room, they'll score." The Quakers (4-11) have now lost two games in a row heading into their final match against Princeton at Rhodes Field on Saturday. Despite the Red and Blue's anemic offense O'Neill does not plan to change the team's strategy for the game. "We're just going to keep trying to score goals," he said.
The Penn men's tennis team will face stiff competition in its first of two home tournaments of the fall season as the three-day Penn Conference Classic opens today at the Levy Pavilion. The tournament, now in its sixth year, consists of a singles draw, which will feature nine Quakers, and a doubles draw, including four Penn entries. They will be pitted against some of the best teams in the country, including Northwestern, Virginia Commonwealth and South Alabama, in addition to Ivy League rivals Princeton, Dartmouth and Harvard. "When the tournament started, Penn invited many teams in the top 40," Quakers coach Gene Miller said. "But, in the past two or three years, we have invited teams in the top 20." Miller reasons that, by inviting premier teams, the Quakers will be better prepared for their regular schedule. But, despite the strong talent in the tournament, Miller is not going in with a defeatist attitude. "Winning is certainly not out of the question, because we've done it before," Miller said. "We've had success against some of these teams, and anything can happen during a tournament." Penn sophomore Adam Harris is also confident in the Quakers' chances in the competition. "We've done the conditioning, we've done the preparation, now it's a question of going out and winning," Harris said. The Penn Conference Classic is the Quakers' penultimate tournament of the season, but some believe that questions about the lineup remain going into the spring season. "The draw is wide open," Penn junior Urs Baertschi says. "The freshmen played well this season, and some of the returning players are just getting into top form after not playing during the summer." Miller agrees, saying, "In the past, guys would label themselves in a certain place on the ladder within the team, but this year the players feel that anybody can beat anybody else." Miller also believes a productive offseason is necessary for success for the spring. The team's work ethic, Miller believes, will be the difference between winning and losing. He uses a recent match as an example: "During a tournament, we beat Columbia 4-3, whereas last year we lost 7-0. The difference between the two matches was work ethic." Last year, the Quakers had a disappointing showing at the Conference Classic. No singles players advanced into the second day of competition, while all of the doubles teams drew first round seeds and lost all four matches. Penn's last tournament of the season is the ITA Rolex Regional, which is also at home. Players must qualify through their season record for that competition, which will take place November 6-10.
Penn brought its younger players to the Swarthmore Invite., to gauge their level of competition. The Penn men's tennis team opened its season at the Swarthmore Invitational tournament last weekend with convincing play by some lesser-known players. Quakers coach Gene Miller took freshmen and other players vying for positions on the starting squad to the Philadelphia suburbs for the early-season test. Other teams, including Yale and Providence, brought all of their players to the tournament. Despite the tough competition, every Quaker at the tournament was victorious in at least one match. "There were some interesting matches," Miller said. "And all of the freshmen combined for a good showing." The two-day tournament was divided into four divisions, A-flight through D-flight. Miller said junior Tejas Patel was Penn's most successful player. Patel reached the finals in the A-flight singles tournament before losing, 6-0, 6-2. Although pleased with his performance, Patel was not surprised with his success. "I concentrated well in the early matches, and I knew if I played well I could beat anyone," he said. Patel also advanced to the second round in the B-flight doubles with sophomore partner Brian Konigsberg. "Patel's solid play is very positive for Penn tennis," Miller said. Quakers sophomore Bryan Wells also fared well. He reached the D-flight doubles semifinals with freshman partner Rafael Balenes before losing. "It was a good way to open up the season," Wells said. "I could have played better, but now I have more experience under my belt, and the tournament was a good way to see where I'm at after the summer." Among other players who stood out, Balenes had an impressive debut. The freshman from Puerto Rico made it to the D-flight semifinals in singles, losing, 8-6, to the eventual winner. "It was a pretty good tournament in that it was a good way for the freshmen to see what college tournament tennis was like," Balenes said. All of the freshmen received high marks from the veteran players on the team. "The freshmen seemed strong," Patel stated. "Even when they lost, they learned from their mistakes." Overall, Miller was proud of his players' performances at the tournament. "This is the first year that the team has consistently played better in matches than in practice this early in the season," he said. The players who participated in the tournament will have greater opportunities to play this year than younger players on past teams have had due to the loss of some significant players to graduation. The Quakers lost last year's No. 3 and No. 4 singles players, Brad Goldberg and J.J. Cramer. The two graduates also combined to form a second-team All-Ivy doubles team in the 1995-96 season. Penn's will be in action next at the Princeton Invitational next weekend. Miller will bring his full squad to the Invite. The following week, the team will play in the ECAC Championships, where the top 16 teams in the region compete.