Given that it has just an 18-team field, the men’s lacrosse selection committee understandably cannot guarantee that there will be no rematches early in the NCAA Tournament.
Still, fourth-seeded Penn and fifth-seeded Yale were granted no favor when they were bracketed to play each other in the second round of this year’s event.
The Quakers (12-3) will play reigning NCAA champion Yale (13-3) for the third time this season on Sunday in East Hartford, Conn., with a trip to the Final Four at Lincoln Financial Field at stake.
Penn beat the Bulldogs, 13-12, in three overtimes on March 30 at Franklin Field, and again in the Ivy League Tournament championship game, 12-11, on May 5 in New York.
"Obviously, we’ve played a really good Yale team twice,” said Penn’s Tyler Dunn, a senior captain and honorable mention All-American. “Really for us, it’s about making ourselves a better team.
"Our goal is definitely to move on to the Linc and play in our home city. It’s exciting, but we’re not looking past Yale despite having beaten them twice.”
When a team begins in season 0-3, it definitely adopts the one-game-at-time mantra. Penn has ridden that to 12 straight victories.
Dunn said Quakers coach Mike Murphy "told us we had to learn how to compete and then learn how to win. Losing those three games helped us get to that extra level that we needed to. Now, we’re a well-seasoned team with a couple of tough losses, but we’re better for that.”
Penn advanced by beating Army West Point, 13-8, last Saturday. Yale won its first-round game against Georgetown, 19-16.
It’s a matter of semantics deciding which team has the advantage.
Having won both meetings this season, the Quakers know they can beat the Bulldogs. On the other hand, defeating Yale three times in 1½ months is a tough task – particularly when the first two games were each decided by one goal.
“There is zero thought in my mind that we will lose this game,” Dunn said. “Yale has ended our season the last few years, so this is personal for us.
“Mainly, we’re just looking forward to going out and competing against a good Yale team.”