If Sunday’s matchup was any indication, Penn women’s lacrosse aren’t in bad shape against its toughest opponents this season.
Up against one of the nation’s highest scoring teams, the Quakers put together an impressive, albeit incomplete, performance against No. 1 North Carolina.
The Red and Blue were able to match the Tar Heels pound for pound in the first half, but weren’t able to pull away in the second period. Despite heading into halftime tied, North Carolina surged ahead in the second half, dispatching Penn with a barrage of goals, 13-8.
Coming off their season opening win against Delaware, the Quakers (1-1) knew nothing would come easy against the defending national champions. North Carolina (6-0) was averaging 20.6 goals per contest entering Sunday’s game, and they’d had at least a 10-goal margin of victory in every game thus far .
But thanks to a strong defensive effort from junior goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson , the Quakers kept the Tar Heels on edge in the first 30 minutes.
“Our defense was coming up with a lot of stops, forcing turnovers and coming away with the ball to give our attack some opportunities,” coach Karin Brower Corbett said. “I think we really stifled their attack.
“Lucy has played great this season. She had some great saves, forced some turnovers and was very active.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair between the two disciplined squads. Penn senior attack Courtney Tomchik kicked off the scoring less than two minutes into the game, and the offensive fireworks were underway.
After alternating the first five goals of the game in a stretch in which the Quakers never trailed, the Tar Heels surged ahead with three consecutive unassisted scores midway through the opening frame.
But Penn refused to go quietly. After the Quakers clamped down on the defensive side of the ball, senior midfield Tory Bensen helped the Red and Blue strike back with her second and third goals of the game, and Penn used a 3-0 run of its own to recapture the lead.
Bensen’s three goals led the Quakers in scoring, and upped her total to eight goals in Penn’s first two games.
“I think in the first half, we got opportunities on the attack and capitalized on them,” Corbett said. “We were equalizing them, and they weren’t able to pull away.”
After being knotted up at halftime, 6-6, North Carolina freshman midfield Maggie Bill registered her second goal of the game 35 seconds into the second period. Though the Quakers were able to tie up the score once again, another 3-0 run from the Tar Heels nearly put the game out of reach.
Penn was able to cut its deficit to two when sophomore defense Lely DeSimone scored with under seven minutes to play. But North Carolina responded with three straight goals, including Bill’s fourth score of the afternoon, to put the game out of reach.
“I think in the first half, we got opportunities on the attack and capitalized on them,” Corbett said. “And in the second half, we still had chances to make a move, but we couldn’t take advantage, and that ultimately cost us.”