2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 9 Penn (Men)

PHOTO BY KEVIN P. TUCKER

Gabe Furey finished third on the team with 32 points (16G, 16G) last year.


The 2023 college lacrosse season is almost here. As is our annual tradition, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USALaxMagazine.com each weekday this month for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.

NO. 9 PENN

2022 Record: 11-5 (3-3 Ivy League)
Final Ranking (2022): No. 7
Coach: Mike Murphy

TOP RETURNERS

Piper Bond, SSDM, Sr.

Short stick d-middies may not get the love too often, but Bond’s play has been clearly recognized. The senior earned third-team All-America and first-team All-Ivy honors in 2022. He had 11 caused turnovers and also 26 ground balls, playing a key role on the wing on faceoffs.

Dylan Gergar, A, Sr.

A key threat from the moment he stepped on campus in 2019, Gergar had a breakout 2022 campaign with a team-high 52 goals, the second-best single season total in Penn history.

Sam Handley, M, Sr.

What has not been said about him? The 6-foot-5 freight train is the USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Player of the Year following a season during which he earned Ivy League Player of the Year and USILA Midfielder of the Year honors. His 73 points (36G, 37A) was the second-best season in Penn history, and he has a combined 134 points in his two full season in Philly.

KEY ADDITIONS

Ryan McLaughlin, LSM/D, Fr.

The USA Lacrosse All-American was a captain for Mountain Lake’s (N.J.) state championship team in 2022. The NJ.com Player of the Year might have a tough time cracking into a deep position group for the Quakers, but there’s no questioning his talent.

Griffin Scane, M, Fr.

Scane, a Michigan native, starred at national power Culver Military (Ind.) and is Penn’s highest rated first-year player — coming in at No. 9 in the Inside Lacrosse rankings and as the top-ranked pure midfielder. He’s the third Scane to play Division I lacrosse — older brother James played at Robert Morris and sister Izzy is an All-American at Northwestern and won a gold medal with the US U19 team.

Travis Smith, M, Fr.

Smith’s impact on the high school level was evident by being a three-year captain for John Carroll (Md.). A second-team all-state and All-MIAA player for the Patriots, Smith has a chance to contribute from the midfield right away.

KEY DEPARTURES

Graduations: Ben Bedard, M; Patrick Burkinshaw, G
Transfers: Jamie Zusi, FO (Duke)







STORYLINES TO WATCH

Can depth and experience take Penn back to Championship Weekend?

Penn hasn’t played on Championship Weekend since 1988 — it came close with an overtime loss to Yale in the 2019 quarterfinals — but this year’s Quaker team could make history.

Coaches tend to be optimistic at the start of a season while also downplaying expectations, but Mike Murphy, now in his 14th year as Penn’s head coach, has nothing to hide entering 2023.

“This is as talented as we’ve been in my years, and also the deepest,” Murphy said. “We’ve got very good leadership with our senior captains. We’ve got a lot of guys who know what we’re doing, and the details are covered pretty quickly. The culture is more unified. I feel like we’re pretty complete.”

Carroll ready in goal.

Goalie Patrick Burkinshaw earned honorable mention All-America honors and made 209 saves last season. He’s graduated, but Murphy has no qualms handing over the reins to Emmet Carroll.

“He had a great fall, and I think we’ll be solid there if not a position of strength,” Murphy said.

A hockey and lacrosse captain at Rye (N.Y.) High School, he earned USA Lacrosse All-America honors at the high school level. He saw action in four games a year ago and finished with a 53.1 save percentage. He made 12 saves in his one start, a tight 10-8 loss to a very strong Georgetown team.

He’ll have the benefit of playing behind a trio of All-Americans — Bond, LSM BJ Farrare and his old high school teammate, close defenseman Brendan Lavelle.

Furey Road.

Handley and Gergar rightfully get many of the headlines for Penn, but another 6-foot-6 midfielder, Gabe Furey, should be an even bigger factor in the Quakers offense this season.

Furey finished third on the team with 32 points (16G, 16G), but turned it on in the second half of the season — his first full year of college lacrosse. Furey had 21 points in the final eight games and multiple points in seven of the final nine games.

Furey had a season-high five points (3G, 2A) in a span of less than a quarter in a 13-12 overtime comeback victory against Saint Joseph’s and multi-goal games against Princeton, Harvard and Yale. He had a season-high three assists in an NCAA tournament victory over Richmond.

ENEMY LINES
WHAT RIVALS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE QUAKERS

“They’re going to be a legitimate final four contender, in my opinion. They had some young guys who came on during the Ivy League tournament and really elevated their game. Not only will they get Gergar and Handley and those known quantities back, but I think they’re going to see some jumps from the sophomores and freshmen that were getting time for them last year.”

BEYOND THE BASICS
POWERED BY LACROSSE REFERENCE

54.2%

As we all know, a shot that a goalie saves is akin to a turnover. The momentum in a game can turn on a dime after a save in a way that that few other on-field events can cause. But until this offseason, I’ve never really measured the offensive side of that coin. We calculate shooting percentage, but we don’t have a separate measure for the high-leverage shots that are either saves or goals. And when we do remove the off-cage misses, some teams rise to the top like a weird on-goal shooting cream. Penn was one such team; of its on-goal shots, 54.2% of them ended up in the back of the net. That was the fourth-highest mark in all of Division I. Of the higher-volume shooters, Sam Handley led the way with a 56% onGoal Shooting percentage. That was good for the 76th percentile among qualifying players last year. Handley was a good example of why relying on shooting percentage can be misleading. He had a relatively low shot-on-goal rate, which meant that a relatively small proportion of his shots were high-leverage shots. As a result, his overall shooting percentage was middling (28%, 49th percentile), which gives an unduly poor impression of his actually very impressive shooting efficiency.

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