Not one. Not two. Not three. But eight championships.
With a win on Saturday, No. 15 Penn women’s lacrosse clinched a share of its eighth consecutive Ivy League title in its final regular season contest against Cornell.
“After our loss to Princeton, we turned it on the next couple games and there was a lot of pressure and in the end we pulled through and fought,” coach Karin Brower Corbett said. “This team really battled a lot of things both on and off the field.
“I’m really proud of them. They really did something tremendous this year.”
The Quakers (10-4, 6-1 Ivy) rebounded from a slow start and held off a late surge from Cornell (7-8, 4-3) on their way to a 10-8 victory. The win also ensured Penn of the No. 2 seed in the Ivy League tournament, which will be hosted by co-Ivy League champion Princeton next weekend.
The Red and Blue opened up the game with a sluggish performance, allowing a few quick goals from the Big Red, who grabbed a 3-1 lead through the first six minutes. However, as they have all season, the Quakers responded.
“The thing that’s been working for us, why we’ve had some good halves or parts of games, is when our attack is really moving at a fast pace and creating a lot of havoc,” Corbett said. “It was a complete team effort.
“There were a number of people who finished well this weekend, but I think it has a lot to do with ... the speed at which we play.”
After a seven-goal run, Penn found itself ahead 8-3 and maneuvered into halftime with a four-goal lead following a late Cornell score. The Quakers continued their hot play during the first few minutes of the second half and claimed a 10-4 lead.
And though Cornell scored four goals late in the second half, the Big Red were unable to overcome the insurmountable lead despite their best efforts.
“I feel like we started off a little bit slow, made some mistakes off the bat, got into a groove on attack,” Corbett said. “And then after the goals in the second half, we talked about looking for good opportunities, and unfortunately we didn’t do that. The second half wasn’t a great defensive game for us either.”
The win clinched a share of the eighth consecutive Ivy League championship for the program, breaking Harvard’s previous record for consecutive Ivy League women’s lacrosse titles, which included seven titles from 1987-93. The title also matches Penn’s school record for consecutive Ivy League championships with the men’s fencing squad that captured eight championships from 1975-76 to 1982-83.
“This team really set out from the beginning to make history,” Corbett said. “It was our goal to win an eighth consecutive championship that no other team had ever done in lacrosse.”
Senior midfield Tory Bensen continued her recent hot streak, notching four goals and an assist in the game. Meanwhile, freshman attack Sarah Barcia scored her second hat trick of the season, all three of which came during the Quakers’ late first-half streak.
Moving into the Ivy League tournament, the team has its sights set on the more distant future, securing an NCAA tournament berth.
“There isn’t really a pressure to repeat, that’s how we’ve played all season,” Corbett said. “This is just ‘We want to play in the NCAAs’, we’ve got to play well to win on Friday to have a chance at an at-large.”