Ivy champion Penn lacrosse readies for NCAA opener

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A magical season has emerged out of humble beginnings for the University of Pennsylvania men's lacrosse team.

The Quakers were sitting at 0-3 after a tough 15-14 loss to a talented Penn State team back on March 2. 

But a funny thing has happened to the Quakers in the weeks since: They haven't lost.

Penn brings an 11-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament. The No. 4 seed Quakers will host Army West Point in the first round at Franklin Field on Saturday.

Needless to say, it's been quite a ride to this point for the Quakers.

"I'll just say that the boys are enjoying it and we're looking forward to a great contest this weekend," senior attacker Simon Mathias said.

Mathias is putting the finishing touches on a phenomenal career. He is a nominee for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the nation's top lacrosse player. 

He has played 57 games at Penn and recorded a point in every one of them. He has scored a goal in 34 straight games — tied for the longest streak in the country. 

Stats like this are really incredible, but it's not the numbers that Matthias cherishes.

"Looking at that sort of stuff, it really just reminds me of the guys I've been fortunate to play with over the years," he said. "We've had some great offensive and defensive talent on this team, so just thinking about all the games that I've played for Penn, I'm just thankful that I've been able to make all these relationships over the years. 

"I've just been really fortunate also to come out on the good side of those types of stats. But it's more just really about having those relationships and walking out of here from Penn having a good group of buddies that you can call up anytime on the phone and have a great conversation with."

Along the way during this winning streak, the Quakers won the Ivy League title for the first time since 2014, beating Yale in the final. 

"That was amazing," Mathias added. "This was our first kind of post-season win for the seniors, so it really meant everything, to that group especially, and to the team as a whole. It's one of our main goals coming into the season, so to check that off the list was great. 

"It's a satisfying feeling, but there is still more season to play, and that's why we came back to practice on Monday ready to work."

Army won the Patriot League title and the Black Knights come into the NCAA Tournament 13-4.

Saturday's match at Franklin Field gets underway at 5 p.m.

You can follow Matt Leon on Twitter @MattLeon1060.