Fall Snapshot: Penn Quakers

(Photo Courtesy of Penn Athletics)

Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.

Head Coach: Mike Murphy (14th Season, 2010-Current)

Penn 2022 Record: 11-5 (3-3 Ivy League)

Key Departures: Jamie Zusi (FO), Patrick Burkinshaw (G)

Key Returners: Sam Handley (M), Dylan Gergar (A), Gabe Furey (M), Cam Rubin (A), BJ Farrare (LSM), Piper Bond (SSDM), Blake Peter (D)

Transfer Additions: N/A

The Penn Quakers have had immense success each of its past two full seasons. The Quakers won the Ivy League in 2019 and fell in the quarterfinals to Yale. In 2022, the Quakers were the ones who came out on top in the Ivy League tournament and then survived Richmond (in overtime, of course) before falling to Rutgers in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Penn’s 2022 season saw them reach some high highs for the second consecutive full season. And it was one headlined by close wins as the Quakers won five games by one score and saw six of their losses come by three goals of less.

Heading into the 2023 season and coming off a year such as the one the Quakers just had, this program will be looking to sustain that same level of success and have the desire to go even further this spring. And those goals could very well be achieved with almost the entire Penn roster back from a year ago and very few questions.

Burning Questions

Who Takes Over in Cage For Patrick Burkinshaw?

Of the few personnel questions that Penn does have heading into the 2023 season, the biggest is in cage where Patrick Burkinshaw has graduated. The starter in between the pipes for three seasons, Burkinshaw made 209 saves with a 56% save percentage last spring to anchor the Quakers defense.

Now, the Quakers will now be looking for its next starting goalie to fall into a spot that has been occupied by two really good goalies in Burkinshaw and Reed Junkin over the past seven years. That answer will come from a four-man goalie room that returns only one player who has seen a single start over the past few seasons.

Junior Emmet Carroll was the primary backup for the Quakers last season and starter the team’s opener against Georgetown. He made 17 save with a 53% save percentage on the year. In his lone start, Carroll made 12 saves with a 55% save percentage. Junior Devan Varney and sophomore Jake Oliver saw no game action last season. Freshman Chuck Cacciutti (Haverford, Pa.) comes in as a four-star recruit, per Inside Lacrosse, and is one of the headliners of Penn’s 2022 recruiting class.

What is The Situation at The Faceoff Dot?

The second most important personnel question with this Penn team lies at the faceoff dot where Jamie Zusi has graduated. Assuming the role as the primary option last season, Zusi went 183-for-336 (54.5%) at the dot. He also grabbed 92 ground balls and earned an All-Ivy Honorable Mention selection.

Chris Arceri was the only other player who took any draws other than Zusi last season for this Penn squad. As such, he is the top returning producer at the faceoff dot after a sophomore campaign last spring that saw him go 33-for-91 (36.3%). He took the majority of draws against both Duke and Dartmouth. He went 7-for-17 (41%) against the Blue Devils and 6-for-19 (31%) versus the Big Green.

Junior Matthew Wong and senior Matt Palazzi are the other two returners at the faceoff dot for the Quakers. Freshman Ethan Costanzo (Taft, Conn.) is the lone addition at the position. He was rated as a four-star recruit by Inside Lacrosse.

Another Midfield-Oriented Offense?

Penn’s offense was one of the more unique last season and not just due to the reason that it seemed to get deeper as the season went on with the emergence of players such as freshman Ben Smith, who had 22 points in the final seven games alone. The Penn offense was unique due to the fact that it was a midfield-oriented unit that relied on its midfielders to initiate off the dodge and its attackmen to be more off-ball finishers rather than dodgers.

The leader of this offense was 2022 Tewaaraton finalist Sam Handley. He notched 36 goals and 37 assists as Penn’s leading point-getter and feeder. Handley was the heart and soul of this offense and will be once again as he returns for a fifth year in 2023. Gabe Furey (16G/16A), Ben Bedard (10G/7A), and James Shipley (15G/8A) helped compliment Handley at the midfield to provide even more firepower at the position.

All four of those aforementioned players will be back as well as attackmen Dylan Gergar (52G/17A), who was the Quakers’ leading goal-scorer, Cam Rubin (21G/8A), and Ben Smith (19G/8A). This offense is immensely talented across the board and one that, with LSM BJ Farrare and SSDM Piper Bond back, will be able to strike in transition once again. With as much talent back, will we see any changes in the Quakers’ offensive approach or will this be the midfield-led offense it came to be known as last season?

Potential Breakout Player

Tynan Walsh, Sophomore, Attack

With as many pieces as the Quakers bring back, there doesn’t appear to be many spots where there are cracks for a player to breakthrough. But as usual, always expect a few to emerge. One player who could be in that boat for Penn is sophomore attackman Tynan Walsh. As a freshman and key reserve in 2022, he scored seven goals and six assists. Walsh had 11 points in the Quakers’ final five games before the NCAA Tournament. He missed the NCAAs due to an injury sustained in the Ivy League title game against Yale.

Freshman Class

With it’s 2022 recruiting efforts, Penn brings in a 14-man freshman class. The class is headlined by midfielder Griffin Scane (Culver, Ind.). A product of Culver Military, Scane is rated as a five-star and ranked as the No. 6 player in the class by Inside Lacrosse. He is one of two players, along with LSM Ryan McLaughlin (Mountain Lakes, N.J.) was was named a top-100 prospect by IL.

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