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Archive for May 22, 2007

May 22, 2007 — The Final Four — Inside The University of Pennsylvania

Our look at the Division I women’s finals takes a look at the hosts.

Penn Quakers

How they got here: Won the Ivy League championship’s Automatic Qualifier bid with a 7-0 record. The Quakers clinched the AQ berth with back-to-back wins against Dartmouth and Princeton.

Road to Philadelphia: Defeated Boston University 11-5 and topped Maryland 9-7 in the quarterfinal round.

“Statement” win: Defeated Johns Hopkins 12-4 on March 28.

Against the Final Four Field: Lost 13-4 to Northwestern.

When Penn Has The Ball: The Penn offense is a little like the professional running back Eric Dickerson. The Quakers don’t run up the score in a short period of time; their style is to ease into command without the opponent being able to do much about it.

Junior Rachel Manson (36 goals), freshman Ali DeLuca (34), sophomore Becca Edwards (31), and junior Melissa Lehman (25) are the top scorers, but senior Chrissy Muller (25 assists) stirs the drink.

When Penn Doesn’t Have The Ball: Opponents are only shooting 32 percent against the Penn rearguard. On free positions, that percentage drops to 25 percent. Give big credit to goalie Sarah Waxman and defenders Karen Jann, Sarah Eastburn, Hilary Renna, and Tarah Kirnan. And the team’s clearing rate — 86 percent — is Northwestern-esque.

The Skinny: When Karin Brower came to the Penn head coach’s office, the women’s lacrosse program was an absolute shambles. Players had rebelled against the coaching staff, even going so far as to write a petition to the administration.

The healing and reconstruction has taken a long time, but today’s Penn player is buying into Brower’s system. It’s getting to the point where Penn is now competing with the ACC powers for top players. If the Quakers doesn’t win it this year, you can be sure they’ll be a threat for some time.

The Judgment: The Quakers have been the danger team in this tournament. They have defended their home turf — whether it was Franklin Field or the soccer-specific Rhodes Field where they played their first-round match — splendidly. They say that home field in a World Cup of men’s soccer is easily worth two goals per game. If this is the case in this Final Four, watch out.