The most recent stop on the grueling gauntlet that the Penn men’s lacrosse team calls its regular season schedule ended as three others before it had: with a loss.
The Quakers fell to No. 16 Princeton, 11-4, at the Tigers’ Class of 1952 Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Red and Blue (1-4, 0-1 Ivy) kept pace with their rivals throughout the first half, but a prolonged Princeton (4-2, 1-0) flurry after the break put the nail in the coffin.
“They did a good job possessing the ball at their offensive end,” Penn coach Mike Murphy wrote in an email. “We were sloppy with the ball and took some questionable shots throughout the third and fourth quarter.”
The contest — which marked the start of the Ivy season for both teams — began evenly enough.
Tigers’ junior midfield Jeff Froccaro broke a 10-minute stalemate with an unassisted goal.
It took until the final minute of the first quarter, but junior attack Tim Schwalje put the Quakers on the board when he finished a feed from senior attack John Conneely.
Penn and Princeton traded goals for most of the second quarter, and the half ended with the Tigers leading, 4-3.
“We need to lean on our seniors, especially on offense,” Murphy wrote. “Will Koshansky did a great job against Princeton covering their best player, Tom Schreiber, and Alek Ferro did a good job at the defensive end, but the other seniors and leaders at both ends weren’t as sharp as they will need to be.”The dullness of the Red and Blue’s game came to the surface after halftime, as the Tigers systematically dismantled Penn’s defense.
Princeton scored three unanswered goals in less than six minutes, two from junior midfield Tucker Shanley and one from junior midfield Chris White off an assist from freshman attack Mike MacDonald.
That made the score 7-3, Princeton.
Penn wouldn’t get any closer.
A few untimely turnovers and wasted man-up situations dug the Red and Blue’s grave even deeper, and the game was all but over when junior attack Rob Fitzpatrick scored on transition to make it 10-4.
“Mostly we needed to clean up our stickwork,” Murphy wrote. “We had an uncharacteristic number of turnovers, both forced and unforced.”
The Quakers will try to clean up their act when they welcome Cornell (4-1, 1-0) to Franklin Field Saturday, but rebounding against the Big Red will be no cakewalk.
In fact, the Ancient Eight is reclaiming its place as one of the elite conferences in Division I men’s lacrosse.
Murphy and his team are only too aware of the improved level of play they are facing week-in, week-out.
“The Ivy is one of the very best leagues in the country,” Murphy wrote. “It means that every game will be highly competitive, and that we need to prepare well, play hard and execute every week.”
The Quakers will get another chance to prove themselves soon enough.