Cummings, Condon Lead Potent Penn Offense

PHOTO COURTESY OF PENN ATHLETICS

Caroline Cummings was Penn's top goal scorer before going down with an ACL injury. She's back to lead what could be the Quakers' most prolific offense in years.


US Lacrosse Magazine released the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Women’s Preseason Top 20 on Jan. 8. Team-by-team previews will be unveiled on uslaxmagazine.com throughout January and will also appear as part of the magazine’s NCAA preview edition that mails to US Lacrosse members Feb. 1 — opening day of the 2018 college lacrosse season.

No. 12 Penn

2017 Record: 13-4 (6-1 Ivy League)
Coach: Karin Corbett (19th year)
All-Time Record: 203-120
NCAA Appearances: 11
Final Fours: 3
Championships: 0

Penn’s win over Princeton on April 19 last year helped earn a share of the Ivy League regular season title, but the win didn’t feel that good, because the Quakers lost Caroline Cummings to an ACL injury.

Cummings ended the game tied with Alex Condon for a team-high 37 goals for the Quakers, who were 11-2 then. Penn was not the same after her injury, particularly on offense. The Quakers won their next two games, but lost in the Ivy tournament semifinals to Princeton, then were upset in the NCAA tournament first round by Navy.

“When Cummings went down, it was such a big win but such a buzzkill,” Corbett said. “You just shut down Alex, and we were in trouble.”

Penn is confident that more depth and talent will strengthen its offense. Cummings was cleared in December to return. The Quakers only graduated 21 points. They return their top six scorers – points and assists leader Emily Rogers-Healion, Condon, who finished as the top goal scorer, Cummings, senior Natalie Stefan and sophomores Gabby Rosenzweig and Erin Barry, the latter who also led the team in draw controls.

“What we have this year is we have a lot of threats, a lot more than last year,” Corbett said. “It was clear when Cummings went down that if you took Alex out of the game, we were stuck. I see at least seven kids out there that are threats, that can put the ball in the net. That is always problematic for defenses.”

Usually it’s Penn’s defense that draws headlines, but Corbett sees the attack being the strength early in the season. Boosting their firepower are freshmen Zoe Belodeau and Laura Crawford. Belodeau is one of the best freshmen that Corbett has ever coached and has drawn early comparisons to former NCAA assist leader Nina Corcoran. Crawford has great hands and finishes like Condon. 

“I feel like these two freshmen would have played for us last year, no question,” Corbett said. “They’re adding to what our strength was on attack.”

The offense will take some of the load off a defense that has been top tier in each of the last four years, but has questions marks. Penn had such inexperience that it played more zone than ever last year. As the Quakers return to more man defense, they have time to adjust thanks to an attack that looks better than ever.






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The Case For Penn

Penn has more returning than ever, and if they all come back at full strength, the Quakers will be back in the top 10. Their offense is more dangerous than usual thanks to the return of their top six scorers and addition of freshmen who improve talent on attack and depth in midfield. 

Penn’s offense has good leadership and experience gained from last year’s trials. The defense will get an injection of energy if freshman Liv Smith and Katie Cromie can return from injuries and mix in with Katy Junior and an experienced defensive core.

The Case Against Penn

Goalie is a huge and unfamiliar question mark. Britt Brown was No. 2 in the country in save percentage. She graduated. Mikaila Cheeseman played 34 minutes last year as a freshman. Junior Maggie Smith did not play due to injury. Neither jumped out in the fall, and Penn needs solid play in goal if they’re to win anything this year.

“I would say that’s our weakest point, but that stresses me out less than when our attack is weaker going into the season,” Corbett said. “We can make the defense play as a great unit. We’re just not there yet.”

Path to the Playoffs

Penn has won or shared three of the last four Ivy League titles. Princeton has had a share of the last four. The two figure to be at the top of the league again and meet April 25 in Princeton. 

Penn’s win percentage climbed each of the last five seasons, and by continuing that trend the Quakers can position themselves for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament even if they don’t win the Ivy tournament. Penn is only two years removed from reaching the NCAA quarterfinals, and the Quakers could get there by leaning on their depth and experience.

Players To Watch

Alex Condon, M, Sr.
44 G, 21 CT

The 2017 Ivy League Midfielder of the Year will have more help around her this year, and that will make her even more effective. Condon remains critical at both ends of the field. She’s an aggressive goal scorer and can take the ball away defensively.

Katy Junior, D, Jr.
39 CT, 42 GB

One of the top defenders in the country, Junior has started every game of her career and made a big jump last year to lead the team in caused turnovers and ground balls. Junior will have more chances to showcase her talents in a Penn defense that has more experience. 

Emily Rogers-Healion, A, Sr.
61 PTS, 26 A

Rogers-Healion returns for her fifth year after leading Penn in points and assists last year. She showed an ability late last year to drive hard to goal, but she’s most valuable setting up teammates, and she will have more experienced shooters on the receiving end of her passes this year. 

National Rankings

Category

Rank

Value

Offense 48th 12.06 GPG
Defense 5th 8.47 GAA
Draws 94th 11.00/game
Ground Balls 52nd 18.18/game
Caused TO 65th 8.59/game
Shooting 80th 39.7%
FP Shooting 83rd 37.6%
Yellow Cards 78yh 22
Assists 52nd 5.24/game
Turnovers 19th 15.18/game
Shots 41st 21.35/game

Power Ratings (Scale of 1-5)

Offense
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Defense
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goalkeeping
⭐⭐⭐

Draw
⭐⭐

93%

Penn returns all but 7 percent of its points from a year ago, and adds a pair of freshmen who add to its offensive firepower this year. The Quakers have always been a highly ranked defensive team, and this year they should be tougher to stop on attack.

5-Year Trend
Scoring Defense

Year

Rank

Per Game

2013 28th 9.06
2014 7th 7.78
2015 9th 7.74
2016 17th 7.90
2017 5th 8.47

Coach Confidential
Karin Corbett

“We have a lot of those kids we can set up in different ways, and it’s not always going to be the same people scoring. I think we can take some pressure off Alex, which is important. She’s an exceptional player, but you can’t rely on her all the time, which is what happened last year. ”

Enemy Lines
Rival Coaches

“They return their best player from last season in Caroline Cummings, but the Ivy is tough and they have bene looking up at Cornell and Princeton for a couple years now. ... Always in the mix. Historically strong on D, and have Katy Junior returning. However, the loss of Britt Brown will be hard to replace. ... Sophomore Emily Rogers-Healion and senior Alex Condon lead the Quakers on offense. Well-coached and disciplined team who play well together. Always tough Quakers return a lot of veteran talent. ... Penn is always competitive. No matter who they lost or who they have, they’re going to be ready to compete. I’m sure they’ll be a challenger this year as well. ... They graduated their goalie, but didn’t lose much else. And Alex Condon is over-the-top good.”

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