Penn Athletics Fall Preview: Expectations for Soccer, Field Hockey, and the Soccer Season

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This season will be the first time Penn’s soccer, field hockey, sprint soccer and football teams have entered the field in competition since 2019.

Credit: Chase Sutton, Son Nguyen, Izzy Crawford-Eng

As the next track and field season approaches, Penn’s fall sports teams will be in action for the first time since 2019.

While they may be rusty, these teams will primarily face schools that have also seen pauses in play since the COVID-19 hit. Additionally, the Reds and Blues will have a larger influx of new talent than usual, as each team will have two classes that haven’t seen any game action yet.

Here’s a look at five Penn teams and their chances heading into the upcoming season.

Soccer

On the men’s side, Penn will not only be joined by two new rookie groups, but also by two new assistant coaches and a new director of operations.

The team announced this month that Matt Poplawski – a two-time former captain of Penn’s men’s soccer team – and Ryan Sandell will join the coaching staff as assistant coaches, and Joshua West will become the new director of team operations.

The off-field changes come as Penn’s men’s football looks to improve on its 7-5-4 2019 exit. Specifically, in the Ivy League, the Quakers have gone 3-1. -3, which was good enough for second place in the conference behind Yale.

At the start of the season, the Rouge et Bleu will be without former Ivy League defensive player of the year Alex Touche, who signed a professional contract with New Mexico United in January.

Filling Touche and the rest of the shoes from the graduating classes will be 16 new hires – eight of the two classes – as the team strives for their first Ivy title since 2013.

Similar to the men’s team, Penn’s women’s football will be very different off the pitch as they prepare for their first season in two years.

After former head coach Nicole Van Dyke resigned in January 2020 to fill the same position at the University of Washington, the Quakers hired Casey Brown in March 2020 to lead the team.

Brown, who previously coached at Holy Cross, will be joined by new assistant coaches Becky Edwards and Rose Hull as the team look to compete for their first Ivy League championship since 2018.

The year after their title Ivy, which was the last season the team played, the Reds and Blues finished with an 8-7-1 overall record, despite having averaged 2. -5 in the Ancient Eight.

Whether the new coaching staff – not to mention the 16 new hires – can improve Team Ivy’s struggles in 2019 will be decided once the team begins the conference in late September.

Field hockey

After its weakest season since 2011, field hockey Penn had to wait longer than expected for a chance to bounce back.

The Rouge et Bleu finished the 2019 season with a 7-10 overall record and a 4-3 Ivy League record. The team particularly struggled against top-level competition, losing all six of their matches against ranked opponents.

During the team’s extended hiatus, Gracyn Banks Sr. was selected to compete in two prestigious events, namely the USA Field Hockey U-22 Junior Pan American Training Team and the 2021 Young Women’s National Championship. .

As they prepare for the coming season, Banks and many other seniors will become veteran leaders of the team, despite having last played in sophomore year. The change comes in the midst of a year full of changes for the team, as they’ve learned to change the way they operate.

“Back to the beginning of this [pandemic], we’ve all had to shift gears so quickly, adapt and adjust, ”Penn Field Hockey head coach Colleen Fink told The Daily Pennsylvanian last year. hockey point of view and academic point of view. I was really impressed with their character and their willingness to keep their eyes on the ground instead of dwelling on the past. ”

If they are to win the Ivy title, however, Penn field hockey will have a tough road ahead, given that Princeton has dominated the Ancient Eight, having won eight of the last 11 Ivy League titles.

Speed ​​football

The Reds and Blues have been a mainstay of consistency in the ten-team Collegiate Sprint Football League, having not finished with a loss record since 2013.

Much of this consistency is due to Bill Wagner, who retired after completing his 50th season as the team’s head coach in 2019.

Jerry McConnell, who was the Quakers’ offensive coordinator for 12 years, takes Wagner’s place this season.

Whether or not McConnell will succeed as Wagner’s long-term successor remains to be seen, but as he begins his tenure as head coach he faces the pressing question of what to do as a quarterback.

Penn will be without 2019 CSFL Player of the Year Eddie Jenkins, who competed for the team’s quarterback and graduated in 2019.

The Quakers currently have three quarters on the roster, including a junior, sophomore and freshman. The team has yet to announce which of them will lead the team in September.

In the last season they played, the Rouge et Bleu finished 5-2, which was good enough for third place in the CSFL.

As they prepare for the changes to quarterback and head coach positions, their long-term consistency will be put to the test.

Soccer

Much like their sprint counterparts, Penn football has been a constant force in the Ivy League for quite some time now, as they have gone without an overall loss record since 2014.

Despite this stability, the team haven’t won an Ivy League title since 2016 and are looking to change that fact this coming season.

In order for this to be possible, however, a challenge is who will play for the quarterback.

Since Ryan Glover graduated from Penn in 2020, the team has been trying to figure out who will be the quarterback, with five quarterbacks currently on the roster.

Additionally, 57 new players will be starting their Quaker careers this season, as COVID-19 has shut down any chance for 2020 freshmen to see game time.

Despite this, on Ivy League Media Day 2021, Penn Football head coach Ray Priore appeared optimistic about the effect of the pandemic on his team.

“With these challenges, I truly believe that there have been great opportunities that have come with it: the growth of our team, our leadership, our seniors and the way we have developed over this last period. -period, ”Priore said.

On the defensive side of the ball, Penn will be led by 2019 second-team linebacker All-Ivy Brian O’Neill, who will compete as a graduate student this season after recent rule changes allowed that to happen. . His junior All-Ivy season saw him win the fifth most Ivy League loss tackles as well as the fourth most interceptions.

At the start of the season, O’Neill has confidence in the unity around him and his ability to compete at a high level.

“I think coming back we have a bunch of really talented individuals on the D line, and in linebacker, and then in high school as well,” O’Neill said on Ivy League Media Day. 2021. “So I think our defense should be a pretty solid front, and I’m just super excited to have it after and hit the ground running. ”


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