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Despite key losses, the football team should
be in the Ivy title hunt.
By Noel Hynd
we go again, defending another Ivy football championship. Last year (who
could forget?), Penn finished the season with four straight victoriesover
Yale, Princeton, Harvard and Cornellto capture sole possession of
the Ivy League championship. After a wild 58-51 loss to Brown in Providence,
the team settled in to enhance Penns claim as the dominant team
in 1990s Ivy football.
Coach Al Bagnoli is returning for his eighth
campaign at Penn. Since he arrived in 1992, the Quakers have the most
overall wins (47), the most Ivy wins (33), the highest winning percentage
(68.1) and the most Ivy titles (3) of any school in the league. While
this years team will have different components from last years,
especially on offense, they should be back in the hunt for another title.
Last year, quarterback Matt Rader and tailback
Jim Finn W99 accounted for 3,579 yards of total offense out of the
teams 3,749 total yards. Graduation took both of them. So the yards
this year have to come from elsewhere.
At quarterback, there is a four-way battle for
the starting position, which might not be settled until opening day (Sept.
18 against Dartmouth at Franklin Field), if then. Sophomores Tom DiMenna,
Ed Mebs, Gavin Hoffman and junior Reed Werner are all in the battle. Hoffman
is one of the most intriguing ingredients in the mix. A 6 ft., 6 in. transfer
from Northwestern, Hoffman played 12 games for the Wildcats last year,
throwing 13 touchdowns and passing for a total of 2,199 yards.
Whoever wins the job will have some experienced
Penn receivers to look for, including seniors Doug ONeill and Brandon
Carson, who had 70 receptions between them last year. Bombs away.
Replacing Finn at tailback will be one of the
most difficult tasks of the year. The names to remember are juniors Mike
Verille and Givenchy Martin and sophomores Matt Thomas and Kris Ryan,
all of whom have a shot at the job, and all of whom will probably see
On defense, the picture looks clearer. Up front,
four starters are returning. Three who are now seniors earned All- Ivy
honors last year: noseguard Adrian Puzio and tackles Mike Germino and
Jason Maehr. The defensive end positions have ample experience and talent,
also, including juniors Brian Person, Kevin Martin and Qurran Rogers,
a two-time letter winner.
At linebacker, three-time All-Ivy selection
Darren Macdonald graduated. But senior co-captain Jim Hisgen returns,
as does junior Dan Morris, who has probably won the remaining starting
position. If the Morris name sounds familiar, think not of Penns
Arboretum but of Dans older brother Nick W96, who played on
Al Bagnolis first two championship teams at Penn.
Villanova is on the schedule this year for the
first time since 1980and only the second time since 1911. The nova
fans should have no trouble finding the north stands of Franklin Field,
as theyre right next to the Palestra. Bucknell and Fordham are the
other non-Ivy opponents. In a quirk of scheduling, which shouldnt
hurt, seven of Penns 10 games are at Franklin Field, including Princeton
for Homecoming on Nov. 6. I guess Philly is just a popular place to visit.
The key game of the season may be against Brown
at Franklin Field on Oct. 23. (One prediction: There will be fewer points
scored than last years record 109). But the last Ivy title of the
millennium probably wont be decided till the final game against
Cornell on Nov. 20. Enjoy.
other fall sports, Penn womens
soccer provides an interesting story line every year, if not always the
one Im hoping for. Last year, womens soccer raced off to a
quick start, winning six games and tying one in their first sevenand
without giving up a single goal. Then there was a 2-1 loss to Harvard
that turned the season in the wrong direction. The squad ended with an
11-5-1 overall record, but 1-5-1 in the Ivies.
this is next year.
coach Andy Nelson (who had been the head coach of the womens soccer
program at Wellesley since 1994) has taken over for Patrick Baker, who
moved to Florida State. Nelson inherits a very talented and experienced
squad. Only two starters have departed. Sisters Jill and Andrea Callaghan,
who combined for 18 of the teams 42 goals last year, are back as
seniors, as is goalkeeper Anne Kleutmeier, who posted 10 shutouts. Midfield
is experienced, particularly in standout Kellianne Toland, a junior, whom
Nelson describes as "the voicebox" of the team. The same defenders
who helped protect the 10 shutouts last season return, with one exception.
Senior sweeper Deane Korcivar-Norbury anchors that backline. Once again,
Penn womens soccer could cause havoc in the Ivies.
Field Hockey was 8-9 overall last year and 4-3 in the Ivies. Nonetheless,
fifth-year head coach Val Cloud believes this years team has the
talent and potential to pick off an Ivy title.
forward Courtney Martin will lead the offensive attack and senior co-captains
Maureen Flynn and Leah Bills will anchor the midfield. Martin and Flynn
earned All-Ivy honors last year.
mens soccer, coach Rudy Fuller is in his second year at Penn. Last
year was (lets face it) rough: 4-11-1 overall and 0-6-1 in the Ivies.
But Fuller has his first full recruiting class this year. Eighteen of
the teams 26 members will be freshmen or sophomores. Senior midfielder
and co-captain Reginald Brown returns after earning Honorable Mention
All-Ivy honors last year. The other co-captain is senior goalkeeper Michael
OConnor, whom Coach Fuller feels can be one of the best goalkeepers
in the country.
years soccer squad has the potential to cause trouble for opponents
who might be looking past them. A couple of key goals could make for a
very interesting season.
Noel Hynd C70 writes on sports for the Gazette.
His most recent novel is The Prodigy.
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