Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/20/09
From press releases
The Penn men’s lacrosse team opens its 2009 season Saturday at noon when it meets its neighborhood rival Drexel at the Dragons’ Vidas Field.
The Quakers are hoping to avenge last year’s heartbreaking 9-8 loss to the Dragons, who scored four unanswered goals in the final nine minutes and escaped Franklin Field with a 9-8 win. Drexel is 0-1 this year after opening last week with a 13-7 loss at No. 2 Virginia.
This year’s Penn squad returns a number of players who were prominent in last year’s game with Dexel – the Quakers have 12 of 13 starters back, and 22 letterwinners from 2008 overall. With 10 seniors on the roster, most of whom have figured prominently in the lineup for several years, seventh-year head coach Brian Voelker is looking to guide the Quakers to their third NCAA Championship berth in the last six seasons.
“We have a stated goal this year, and that is to win the Ivy League title,” Voelker said. “Obviously there are plenty of great programs in the league, but we feel like we have the talent and experience to compete with all of them.”
“We have a large senior class, and they have done a great job of setting the tone for this season with their leadership. They were in the NCAA field as freshmen, and now they want to round out their careers by not only making the NCAAs again but also having success in the tournament.”
Some Penn notes heading into Saturday’s season opener:
• Penn returns 22 letterwinners and lost just four from the 2008 team that, for the second year in a row, finished 6-7 overall including a 3-3 Ivy League mark.
• Penn’s captains for the 2009 season will be seniors Craig Andrzejewski, Drew Collins, J.J. Lian, and Greg Murray (West Chester East).
• Among the returnees are 12 of 13 starters – all three on attack (seniors Andrzejewski and Alex Weber and sophomore Corey Winkoff) and the first midfield unit (seniors Lian, who has moved to a long-stick middie this year, along with Garvey Heiderman and sophomore Al Kohart); two on defense (juniors Brett Hughes and Tommy Dodge); one in goal (junior Chris Casey); and all three on the face-off unit (junior face-off man Justin Lynch, wings senior Brian Weiss and junior Joe Kelly). For many of the seniors, 2009 will mark their third year as a starter.
• Andrzejewski led the Quakers in two of three scoring categories last year for the second year in a row, with 23 goals and 40 points. He has 106 career points, and is 11 shy of cracking Penn’s top-10 list. He was Penn’s first first-team All-Ivy pick since 2004 last year, and in 2007 he was a USILA honorable mention All-America.
• Winkoff led Penn and the Ivy League with 23 assists, and scored nine times. He finished ninth in the conference in points per game (2.46).
• Weber was second on the team with 21 goals and fourth with 23 points last season.
• The midfield is pretty deep. From last year’s first unit, Kohart was a second-team All-Ivy pick as a freshman and finished third on the team with 19 goals and 26 points. Lian had 10 goals last season, and Heiderman scored eight. Another veteran in the midfield are senior Casey O’Rourke (Haverford School), who moved from attack last year and scored nine times.
• On defense, Hughes, who had 10 caused turnovers and 27 ground balls last year, and Kelly will anchor things after earning major playing time as sophomores last year.
• There are several veterans at the defensive middie positions, as well, including long sticks Dodge and Greg Sih (Germantown Academy) and short sticks Weiss and sophomore Terry Kennedy.
• Lynch had a .577 win percentage last year on face-offs, and swept up a team-leading 58 ground balls. Kelly ended the year with 52 GBs and seven caused turnovers, while Weiss had 42. This year, they figure to be one of the top units in the country.
• In goal, Casey started 12 games last year; however, senior captain Murray started the season finale, a win over Army. Murray will get the start Saturday at Drexel.