Amidst a season of last-second losses and missed opportunities, Penn men’s lacrosse tried to honor its seniors with one final home victory.
Three quarters in and the Quakers leading Harvard by one, Saturday’s game seemed destined to come down to the wire.
But rather than tempting fate, senior Anthony Adler netted two goals early in the fourth, putting the game out of reach for the Crimson. Penn’s five seniors left Franklin Field victorious with an 13-11 win.
“We’ve had a pretty tough season so far,” said Adler, whose team had not tasted victory since March 6 against North Carolina. “It was nice to see everyone come together.”
Such a celebration hung in the balance at halftime, as the Red and Blue had trouble getting off quality shots against a stingy Harvard defense. They entered the locker room tied at five.
“It really was a matter of getting quality shots,” coach Mike Murphy said. “In the second half, we got our hands back, took our time, stepped into our shots.”
Adler finished the match with three goals. Fellow classmate John Conneely matched Adler’s hat trick and also assisted on three other goals.
The Quakers (2-8, 1-4 Ivy) had the luxury of taking their time to find the back of the net against the Crimson (6-6, 2-2) due to their own strong defensive effort.
“We did a great job on their top three guys,” Murphy said. “That had a lot to do with our success today.”
While the Red and Blue shut down the Crimson’s top players, they didn’t play a perfect defensive game — as evidenced by the five goals they allowed in the first period alone.
“We still had a few mental errors [and] made some mistakes,” Murphy said.
But when his defense faltered, goalie Brian Feeney rose to the occasion time and time again.
“In the first quarter, we weren’t really playing well,“ Murphy said. “But then Brian started seeing the ball.”
And when Feeney gets going, the entire team takes notice.
“Brian played out of his mind,” Adler said. “Seeing him play like that gets us excited, and makes us want to go out there and make plays.”
The sophomore finished the match with 13 saves on net, showing his ability to make big plays in the goal.
“With Brian, he has great days and he has bad days,” Murphy said. “And when he plays like he did today, it allows us to do so many other things.”
While the sophomore’s phenomenal play threatened to steal the spotlight, the day still belonged to the seniors.
“It means a lot for them to be honored, but also for them to have played well,” Murphy said.
“I challenged them to be aggressive — to put balls on net — and they really stepped up.”