Image From: PennAthletics.com
The Penn Quakers were one of the most talented teams to miss out on the NCAA Tournament last year, and are looking to make it back for the first time since 2011. Penn lost some talented players, but returns a large amount of their offensive production, along with their starting goalie. Will this be the year that the Quakers make a deep run in the tournament? Here’s a look at some of the players who will give Penn a chance to do just that in 2014.
Attack: The attack unit this year will be led by junior Isaac Bock. Bock has an extremely fast shot with deadly accuracy. After posting 20 goals and 5 assists last year, his scoring production should increase this spring. Sophomore Nick Doktor started this fall and returns after registering twelve goals and four assists in his freshman campaign. He is the quarterback of the Quaker offense, and now that he has a season of college lacrosse under his belt, Doktor should have an even better year in the upcoming season. Rounding out the starting unit is junior Chris Hupfeldt. Hupfeldt played in mostly a reserve role his first two seasons, but has the chance to be a major contributor this year. He had 3 goals and two assists last year, and figures to start as the lefty attackman in 2014. Also competing for playing time are freshman Kevin Brown, junior Jeff Puckette, and sophomore Will Davy.
Midfield: The midfield is the position with the most depth for the Quakers. There are a few veterans who will provide lots of production, and the amount of two-way midfielders on the squad will play to Coach Mike Murphy’s advantage. The best dodger up top is senior Drew Belinsky, who has a great shot on the run. Belinsky had 12 goals and four assists last year. His classmate, Zack Losco, is a great two-way middie. He can clear, play defense, and produce transition opportunities for Penn. The returning point leader, Losco posted 23 goals and had six assists last season. These two seniors will be all over the field and will lead the offense. The third starter figures to be junior Joe McCallion, a two way midfielder. McCallion is a pure athlete who can play offense and defense, and can even take some faceoffs in emergency situations. He had three goals and two assists last year. Four juniors will make up the reserve midfield; Chris Moriarty, Brian Coleman, Mike Power, and Andrew Staller.
FOGO: Danny Feeney is one of the best at the X in college lacrosse. After winning 54% last year, this senior looks to improve on his win percentage and give the offense more opportunities. He also pushes plays into transition, often creating opportunities. Feeney scored a beautiful fast-break goal against Villanova last season, and can hopefully produce similar plays for the Quakers this year.
LSM: This position is another area of depth for Penn. Senior Alex Blonsky is one of the craftier poles in the game, coming up with groundballs in traffic and playing stout on-ball defense. Blonsky had 16 groundballs and nine caused turnovers last year. Also playing a fair amount is junior Greg Caso, a pole with offensive-minded tendencies. These two split time last season, and will likely do the same again this year.
Defense: Defensively, senior Maxx Meyer will be the leader. Meyer is a four year starter who was the #2 defender to the graduated Anthony Santomo for the past couple of years. In 2014, he has a chance to be the #1 guy on the unit. Meyer had 36 groundballs and nine caused turnovers last year. Junior Matt McMahon will also start, and is quick on his feet. McMahon, who is 6’4″, towers over most attackmen and had 19 groundballs and 14 caused turnovers last year. The third starter will be senior Reid Tudor, who played as a reserve last year. However, this year, Tudor will see significant playing time. He will draw all sorts of matchups from other teams, but is a capable cover defenseman. Freshmen Kevin Gayhardt and Eric Persky will push these upperclassmen for playing time.
Goalie: Brian Feeney, the twin brother of the aforementioned Danny, is one of the most talented goalies in the NCAA. As a junior, he stopped 60% of the shots that came his way, and only allowed 7.2 goals a game. Feeney is an athletic netminder who will anchor this veteran defense.
Overall: Penn plays in a conference filled with talented teams, sowinning their league will not be an easy task. However, the Quakers look poised to make the jump into the tournament this year, as they have tons of potential on their roster. A tough out of conference schedule and dangerous Ivy League matchups will be difficult games to win. If Penn can get past teams like Yale, Princeton, and Cornell, they have a chance to do some damage in the tournament.