It isn’t about how you start, but how you finish. And with Penn men’s lacrosse’s Ancient Eight season coming to a close on Saturday, the Red and Blue certainly finished on a high note.
This weekend, the Quakers finished their Ivy season strong with a 9-3 win over the Big Green. With a final record of four wins and two losses, this is the best Ivy performance the team has had since its 2011 season when the current seniors were freshmen.
“It was good,” coach Mike Murphy said about the win. “[The] last Ivy League season game for the seniors, and I think we were prepared well and had a good week in practice, and I think we played well in most phases.”
The Red and Blue (7-3, 4-2 Ivy) dominated the beginning of play, recording five goals before Dartmouth (1-9, 0-5) was even able to get on the board.
Senior midfield Drew Belinsky took the first of Penn’s five-run streak off an assist from junior attack Isaac Bock at 4:51.
His goal would be followed by back-to-back goals from senior midfield Zack Losco . Two more came soon after from sophomore attack Nick Doktor with under a minute-and-a-half in the first quarter and junior Chris Hupfeldt at the start of the second.
While the Big Green put its first tally on the board in the second period, it was never able to gain a lead over the Quakers. It always remained at least four goals behind the Red and Blue.
Overall, six different members of Penn’s team scored. Junior Andrew Staller recorded his second goal of his Penn career and Bock put in his 14th of the season.
“It is kind of the way we are set up,” Murphy said. “We play a lot of people, which helps us play at a high pace, which has come in handy in a couple of games that we’ve won so it’s not surprising. In some ways it’s reassuring, although there are some consistent leaders like Zach Losco and Nick Doktor.”
Losco, Hupfeldt and Doktor each put in two goals in Hanover.
“Part of it is kind of random,” Murphy said. “Certain guys are just in certain positions at certain times and given the chance to score ... there were other guys that had good looks to the cage, too.”
With the victory, the Red and Blue finish their Ivy season on a four-game winning streak. After its initial two Ivy losses to Princeton and Cornell, the Quakers have beat out every opponent in their path for an Ivy record with one more win than last season.
“[It’s] truly what we hoped and certainly is significant for us,” Murphy said. “One game doesn’t sound like a lot, but there is a pretty big difference between 50 percent and 60 to 70 percent in terms of winning percentage in the league. We only play six Ivy League games and play each team only once so every one matters, and all of the Ivy League games are pretty significant.”
While the contests against the Ancient Eight are over, the Quakers have two more games this week before they finish their regular season starting with Towson this Tuesday.
“It feels good and like we are making some progress here programmatically,” Murphy said. “But at this point, all we are really trying to do is continue to improve and tomorrow try to prepare for Towson on Tuesday.”