By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/21/09
The Penn women’s lacrosse team opens its 2009 season today when it hosts nearby Drexel (2-0) at Franklin Field at 1 p.m.
The Quakers are coming off a brilliant season in which they went 17-2 and reached the NCAA Division I finals before falling to four-time champion Northwestern. The Quakers also repeated as Ivy League champions and had the distinction of ending Northwestern’s 36-game win streak when they topped the Wildcats 11-7 late in the season at Franklin Field.
Still, Penn coach Karin Brower said the taste of losing the title game has Penn motivated to make it back to the Final Four for the third straight year.
“There’s no question, we know how much work it takes,” Brower said. “Always as a coach, you worry about that complacency. But we’ve been there the last two years, and that is no easy feat.
“Each year it probably takes more work because people are expecting more from you when you’re viewed as one of the top programs. They are gunning for you, so it doesn’t get any easier.”
The Quakers lost many key players from last year’s team, most notably goalie Sarah Waxman, one of the top keepers in the nation. But they boast two preseason Tewaaraton Trophy Watch List picks, senior defender Hilary Renna and junior midfielder Ali DeLuca.
“Our expectations are the same, to win the Ivy League championship again and return to the Final Four and win the national championship,” Brower said. “We lost seven seniors in last year’s class and they left their mark on this program.
“The culture they have created team here is no different. This group has the same work ethic.”
The midfield will be led by DeLuca (26 goals, 14 assists, 40 draw controls, 26 caused turnovers) and sophomore Giulia Giordano (20 goals, 11 assists), former an attacker. The attack features junior Emma Spiro (18 goals) and the return of Becca Edwards (Springfield-Montco), who missed nearly all of last year with a knee injury after scoring 32 goals in 2007.
Also at attack is senior Kaitlyn Lombardo (nine goals, 10 assists). A host of returnees figure to vie for time at attack and midfield: seniors Hannah Rudloff (West Chester East), and Samantha Bird and juniors Courtney Lubbe (Council Rock North), Megan Smith (Henderson), Bethany Warren (Downingtown West) and Barb Seaman. Freshman Allison Tatios (Bayard Rustin) may see time at midfield.
The defense is anchored by Renna, senior Katie Mazer and junior Kaileigh Wright. A key will be junior goalie Emily Szelest, who has the task of replacing Waxman.
“I think our strength is at midfield,” Brower said. “I was really excited about some of kids and how they played in the Fall with the open spots.
“We lost a couple key players and some leaders – clearly, in the goal cage as well as defensively. We need people to fill those voids.”
La Salle opens against Colgate Saturday
La Salle, led by first-year coach Candace Tagnianetti, opens its season Saturday by hosting Colgate at 1 p.m.
The Explorers are coming off a 1-15 season and lost ace scorer Emily Bonczek, who scored 61 of their 157 goals in 2008. This year La Salle will depend on junior attacker Stefany McKee (32 goals), junior Elizabeth Iacullo (14 goals), junior attacker Alie Venuti (12 goals), sophomore midfielder Nicole McCurdy (8 goals, 7 assists, Germantown Academy) and junior defender Dorothy Schalleur (Upper Darby).