For Penn women’s lacrosse, stingy was the word of the day.
On Wednesday night, the Quakers’ defense held Rutgers without a goal for nearly 40 consecutive minutes, and senior midfield Lindsey Smith scored two second-half goals as the Quakers pulled off a 6-3 win heading into their first Ivy weekend.
“We had some really great defensive stances and we take pride in that, that’s something we really want to keep moving forward with,” Smith said.
The game took some time to get going as Penn (2-1) controlled the tempo, but couldn’t find a way to score. With a lot of movement and possession and very little to show for it, it could have been a recipe for an upset.
“I thought the attack was moving well,” coach Karin Brower Corbett said. “They were just a little slow in the first half ... we have all day to maybe set up something, but the second half we said you guys really got to pick up the speed, we got to have a lot of opportunities.”
Rutgers (3-2) opened the scoring when an obstruction call against Penn goalie Lucy Ferguson forced her to start outside of the eight-meter arc on a free position start. After the restart, she raced back into the box but collided with a Penn player and was unable to prevent Rutgers’ Jenny Vhlahos from converting.
Penn would respond within 30 seconds, as senior midfield Tory Bensen scored her ninth goal of the year on a pass from sophomore Nina Corcoran. Sophomore Iris Williamson then drew a free-position shot with one of her patented runs from the 20-yard line and was able to convert to give Penn a 2-1 lead. But Rutgers was equal to the task, with Halley Barnes scoring just over two minutes later.
At 2-2 going into the half, the game was reminiscent of last year’s low-scoring affair that was played in near-nor’easter conditions - a game that Penn ultimately lost, 6-5.
However, the second half brought more purpose and a direct approach from the Penn attack. Five minutes into the half, Corcoran used a jab step to get by her defender and finished just five meters from goal.
Then, Smith scored two consecutive goals to put the Quakers up 5-2, the second a free position conversion after a three-second violation. She emphatically threw down her stick, and the game was all but won.
“The key for us is to really control the tempo and I think we did that today,” Smith said. “We played with composure and even when it was a close game, we stayed in control and confident.”
Penn and Rutgers traded goals in the last three minutes, but it would do little to affect the outcome of the game, as Penn’s defense held stout.
“I thought the defense played as a great unit,” Corbett said.
The strong defensive performance will provide momentum heading into Penn’s first Ivy game of the season against Harvard at Franklin Field on Saturday. It will also mark the first day of spring break, a time the team will use to bond and focus on preparation for the rest of the season.
“[Harvard’s] good, they just came off a win against Cornell ... they’re going to come here to play,” Corbett said. “We are just excited to play our first Ivy League game.”
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