For the Penn athletic teams, this fall’s Ivy League season has begun to mixed results. The football team shook off two straight nonleague losses to kick off its quest for a third consecutive conference title with a dramatic come-from-behind win over Dartmouth; the men’s soccer team (5-4-1 overall) dropped its league opener, at home, to Cornell; the women’s soccer team lost to Harvard but followed that up with a home triumph over Cornell to move to 1-1 in the league and an impressive 8-2 overall; and the volleyball team has started off 1-2 in the league and 5-8 overall.
For all of these teams, winning the Ivy League will be a difficult task as it always is – which is why last year’s accomplishments were so remarkable. In the fall of 2010, Penn captured league championships in football, women’s soccer, volleyball and sprint football to set a school record for the number of titles in one season. And even though the men’s soccer team failed to capture a league crown, it enjoyed a memorable run to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked to some of the school’s fall-sport coaches to get their take on what it was like to be part of such a historic accomplishment last year and what it means going into a new season. Here’s what they said:
AL BAGNOLI, football coach
We try to follow all the sports and we pull for everyone. I think it’s good. It shows the cross-section of people here that are supported and funded. And we’re always trying to catch Princeton overall. It’s healthy for the school. I think it shows all the recruits the support and the opportunities that are out there.
RUDY FULLER, men’s soccer coach
It just shows the support we get from the University and the athletic administration. I think we’ve got a great group of coaches in the department right now. And we do feed off each other. We’re competitive people but in a good-natured way. We support each other. We want to see all the programs do well. It was a lot of fun last year, and we had some success in the winter and spring, as well. It was enjoyable to be a part of.
DARREN AMBROSE, women’s soccer coach
I think it makes you really proud of Penn and the athletic department. It’s a credit to all the coaches and administrators for getting the environment right and providing the resources. We’re always pushing the envelope here. Being in that kind of environment, it breeds a positive attitude and it breeds more success. You look around Penn and the facilities just opened, and you know the expectations continue to be Ivy championships. It’s a great place athletically for coaches and student-athletes at the moment.
KERRY CARR, volleyball coach
I absolutely love it. It’s really fun. We have a really special relationship with the football team. Every time we’ve won a title, they’ve won a title. We definitely are on the same wavelength. We feed off each other, we really do. I think success in one sport helps recruiting in another. And I love it when all the other teams are on the [Daily Pennsylvanian] sports page with us and everyone is winning. It’s definitely not a competition between sports. The more, the merrier. The more Ivy League championships we have, the better for the school.