It’s not over ‘til it’s over.
The No. 20 Penn men’s lacrosse team hosted No. 6 Denver on Saturday and came away with a 12-10 win that was by no means predictable from the start.
“It’s a big win,” freshman attack Kevin Brown said. “It’s great. It’s going to help us and we are going to try to build on it, but it’s just one win.”
“The most gratifying takeaway, big picture, is that we kind of got pushed around a little bit and then just adjusted and fought back and found a way to win the game,” coach Mike Murphy added.
The Pioneers (3-2) dominated the first period of play, as Denver’s dynamic passing allowed it to get two goals from behind the net to Penn senior goalkeeper Brian Feeney’s right side. By the start of the second period, Denver led, 5-1.
In all three of the Red and Blue’s games thus far this season, the squad has sputtered in the first period.
But unlike its season opener against Duke, Penn (2-1) narrowed the gap.
“Our defense just settled in. They played huge for us,” Brown said. “They really helped in our transition game and ability to score goals.”
After a long possession in Denver territory, junior Chris Moriarty was able to score for the Red and Blue for a man-up goal in the second period, while Feeney limited the Pioneers to just two goals in that span.
It was the Quakers’ persistence that allowed them to catch up in the end.
Sophomore Mark Leonhard scored the first goal of the second period for the Red and Blue off of a deflected shot. His shot was quickly followed by a cross from junior Isaac Bock to sophomore Nick Doktor for another goal.
And Brown put in the third Penn goal of the period - his second of the day - off of an assist from Doktor.
After a Denver goal, the Quakers scored one more time in the half off of an intercepted pass by senior Zack Losco. Bock got the ball in transition and scored a goal with two seconds left in the half.
Coming out of halftime , Denver picked up a quick goal. But two Red and Blue goals - one from Brown and the other from Losco - tied the game.
“[Brown] is a goal scorer. We recruited him as such. He’s our fourth attackman, him and Jeff Puckette,” Murphy said. “Kevin comes in and does his thing. He scores goals. He’s a very good goal scorer.”
When the Pioneers scored the first goal of the fourth period, it seemed as if it would play out similar to the third. Luckily for Penn, the Quakers were able to hold firm.
Junior Jeff Puckette and sophomore Pat Berkery scored to give Penn its first lead of the game with eight and a half minutes left.
As the Quakers’ momentum picked up and senior Danny Feeney won critical faceoffs, a Penn victory seemed within reach.
“It allowed us to run and score and get the ball back, and it rested our defense, and it was huge,” Murphy said. “They were crushing us for two and a half quarters and then we started to respond.”
In those last few minutes, Doktor and Bock both scored again while Denver was only able to put one more point on the board.
While the Pioneers had some chances in the fourth to take back the lead, Penn’s defense, led by Feeney, stopped their momentum every time.
“It shows the players that what we are doing is working,” Murphy said. ” We’ve evolved stylistically from last year, but it’s really just one game.”