Move along, regular season. It’s playoffs time.
After winning a record eighth consecutive Ivy League title, the No. 15 Penn women’s lacrosse team has now set its sights on defending its 2013 Ivy League Tournament title and securing a bid to the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
This year’s edition of the Ancient Eight tournament will take place in Princeton, N.J. — the first time the Quakers will not host the tournament since its inception in 2010. The Tigers — who earned a share of the Ivy championship with the same 6-1 conference record as Penn — will be the No. 1 seed by virtue of their 9-5 victory over the Quakers earlier this year.
“When you host obviously it’s your field, it’s your locker room and that’s all exciting,” coach Karin Brower Corbett said. “But going on the road ... also allows us to be together.
“It feels like tournament time, you’re on the road and you got another game to prepare for — it’s a different experience.”
First will be Friday’s game against fourth-seeded Harvard, who Penn beat earlier this year, 9-4. This matchup promises to be more contested, though, as a lot has changed since the early March meeting between the two teams.
“It was very early in the season and they have a lot of younger players who have gained a lot of experience as the season has gone on,” Corbett said. “So I think they’re a completely different team.”
A key threat on the Crimson side will be Ancient Eight top goal scorer Marisa Romeo, who has found the back of the net 46 times this year — including all four of Harvard’s goals in its loss to the Red and Blue this year.
Another challenge for the Quakers will be getting past Harvard goalie Kelly Weis, who boasts the conference’s second best save percentage at .467, only behind Penn junior Lucy Ferguson at .473.
Senior midfield Tory Bensen has been on fire as of late for the Red and Blue, with 14 goals over the last three games. She led the team with a career-high 32 goals this year, and will spearhead the effort to unlock the Crimson’s defense.
“One thing we really have to do is be patient with our shooting, we have to set ourselves up some really great looks and finish on our shots,” Bensen said. “But we’re not really trying to do anything too different than usual, we’re just trying to come in confident, move the ball a lot and hopefully get some points on the board.”
The stakes are high: win once, and an at-large bid to the NCAAs is likely. Win twice, and you’re in automatically.
“I’ve been really happy with my play recently, but more than anything I’m really confident in my teammates’ play,” Bensen said. “We all feed off of each other, and that’s what allows people to have breakout games.”
For Penn women’s lacrosse to continue asserting its recent Ivy League dominance, another complete team effort might be all it takes.