The record books will show that the 2001 Quakers finished 8-1; fielded one of the best defenses in all of Division I-AA; put 17 players on various all-Ivy League teams; and featured two players, Hoffman and Ryan, who finished their careers as, respectively, the schools all-time leading passer and rusher. What they will not show is the emotional valley the Quakers had to climb out of after a wrenching 28-21 loss to Harvard on November 10 that crushed any hopes of an undefeated season and undisputed Ivy League title. That they made that climb the next week after spotting Cornell a 14-0 lead may reveal more about this team than the previous seven wins could have.
I hate to say it, but I think probably 90 percent of the guys on the defense werent ready to play, Belden said after the Cornell game. Its tough to describe the emotions you go through in such a huge game as Harvard. I think for a lot of guys on the team it was almost like the end of the world when we lost. The coaches definitely did a good job getting us ready [for Cornell], but that thoughts still in the back of your mind.
The Harvard game had loomed on the calendar as both the Crimson and Quakers advanced through their schedules without a loss. Penn took a 14-0 lead but let the advantage evaporate as Harvard scored four unanswered touchdowns. A late score on a pass from Hoffman to senior Rob Milanese brought Penn to within seven points, but a desperation pass to Milanese in the final seconds did not connect and sealed the loss. The Crimson went on to defeat Yale the next week, 35-23, to cap an undefeated season.
Penns defense made a bold opening statement in a 37-0 shutout of Lafayette in the seasons first game and never let up after that, finishing first in the nation in rushing defense (58.4 yards per game), third in scoring defense (11.4 points per game), and 13th in total defense (284 yards per game). Of that group, Belden, along with defensive linemen John and Ed Galan (seniors and brothers, but not twins) and Chris Pennington (junior), and defensive back Kunle Williams (senior) made first-team All-Ivy, joining Ryan and senior offensive linemen Jeff Hatch and John Zepeda. Named to the second team were Hoffman, Milanese, senior fullback Adam Keslosky, linebackers Dan Morris (senior) and Steve Lhotak (junior), and senior defensive backs D. L. Bouldrick and Stephen Faulk. Senior offensive lineman Randy Parker and junior defensive back Vince Alexander received honorable mention.
Ryan broke Brian Keys career rushing record (1987-89) in the final game against Cornell and finished with 3,213 yards. Oddly enough, he began his career as a blocking back for Jim Finn W99 (now with the NFLs Indianapolis Colts), and had just one carry his freshman year.
I didnt really know what to expect, Ryan said, referring to his early days. I was playing fullback, and special teams and stuff like that. I was trusting in God that whatever way things were going to work out for me, He was going to do His thing. I couldnt ask for a better story. Ive had my ups and downs, but I wouldnt trade these four years for anything.
Ryans attitude exemplified what head coach Al Bagnoli tried to instill in his players before and after the Cornell game.
Youd have to go back a really long time to get a composite won-loss record like these guys have had, Bagnoli said. Theyve only lost six Ivy League games in four years. We were all disappointed at Harvard, but theres no shame in playing an unbeaten team at their place in a touchdown game.
Second-year coach Darren Ambroses team of mostly freshmen and sophomores tied for the Ivy womens soccer title with Dartmouth and Princeton, thanks to a thrilling 1-1 tie on Rhodes Field against the Tigers on November 3 and a 3-1 win over Harvard in Boston November 10. In the Princeton game, freshman Rebecca Weber scored with four minutes left in regulation and sophomore goalie Vanessa Scotto stopped a breakaway with two minutes remaining in overtime. A second-ever NCAA berth resulted in a 2-0 loss to Villanova on November 16.
Freshman Katy Cross, who broke Jill Callaghans team single-season scoring record with 34 points (12 goals, 10 assists), was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and was joined on the All-Ivy first team by junior Jen Valentine. Freshman Rachelle Snyder and sophomore Heather Issing (who played the second half of the season with a stress fracture in her foot) made the second team, and Scotto received honorable mention.
Having a team comprised of nearly 50 percent freshmen can be a scary thought, Ambrose said, but they made the adjustment, they werent intimidated, they didnt feel any pressure. They just love to play. They knew they were going to play, and we didnt put any extra pressure on them.
The volleyball team won its first Ivy League title since 1990 in a playoff against Brown on November 20. Coach Kerry Majors squad had lost senior Kelly Szczerba to an Achilles injury a week earlier and played tight in losses to Princeton and Brown before rediscovering their joie de jouer in time for the playoff against the Bears.
We asked everyone to dig a little deeper, and they responded, Major said. This team has the most heart of any that Ive coached.
Penn received its first NCAA tournament bid since 1990, and the Quakers season ended in the first round with a 3-0 loss to No. 8-ranked UCLA. Szczerba and sophomore Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan were named first-team All-Ivy, and junior captain Stacy Carter received honorable mention.
David Porter C82, author of Fixed: How Goodfellas Bought Boston College Basketball, takes over the Gazettes sports column. Our thanks to Noel Hynd C70 for his work.
Copyright 2002 The Pennsylvania
Gazette Last modified 1/2/02
OCTOBER 15 - DECEMBER 4
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