With 21:16 to play in the second half, senior attacker Iris Williamson fired in a free position shot — her fourth goal of the game — to bring Penn’s deficit down to just one, 7-6.
However, that would be the closest No. 13 Penn women’s lacrosse would get down the stretch against No. 10 Duke as the Blue Devils closed the game on a 5-0 run to cap off a 12-6 win. While the final box score may read as a Duke (3-3) blowout, the Quakers (1-1) kept the Blue Devils within striking distance for most of the game.
“We made several mistakes, I felt that we beat ourselves a lot,” coach Karin Corbett said. “Duke is a very athletic team and they go hard and they took an early lead, but we were in it in the first half.”
Coming out of the gate, Penn looked strong, capitalizing on early goals from Williamson and junior Emily Rogers-Healion to take a 2-1 lead. Duke quickly rallied to score the next three goals as the two teams went back and forth in the first half.
With time winding down in the half, the Quakers had a chance to take just a two-goal deficit into the break, but Duke’s Maddy Acton capitalized on a late Penn turnover to score a deflating goal with one second left in the half to give the Blue Devils a 7-4 lead.
“It’s a tough moment to go into the half with a goal like that to the other team, but we went back to the locker room and we had to regroup,” Williamson said. “We got fired up for the second half and had to come out strong.”
Entering the second half, Penn re-focused its defensive efforts, holding the Blue Devils scoreless for the first 19 minutes of the half, while Williamson found the back of the net twice to bring Penn to within one goal.
The Quakers couldn’t fully capitalize on the defensive effort as Duke eventually broke through to score two more goals before Corbett pulled her goalkeeper out to try to force turnovers down the stretch. The empty-netters gave the Blue Devils a wider margin of victory as Penn took the aggressive approach to try to fight back into the game.
“At the end they were pulling the ball out, looking like they were going to wait for us. So you make a call, you either lose by two when they go up 8-6,” Corbett said.
“What do you do? Sit back and let them run out the clock or go after them. That opened up the floodgates unfortunately.”
Duke’s advantage on draw controls had a significant impact on Corbett’s decision and forced Penn to get aggressive. The Blue Devils won 14 of 20 draw controls over the course of the game.
Duke was also able to capitalize more effectively on its free position shots, notching 3-of-5 as opposed to the 1-of-4 rate for the Quakers. The Blue Devils’ overall shot density also played a huge factor as they took 21 shots on goal while Penn had just 12.
Moving forward, the Red and Blue will look to rebound against Rutgers on Wednesday before opening their conquest to retake the Ivy League title — which they held for eight straight years between 2007 and 2014 — against Brown on Saturday.
“We made a lot of mistakes that are fixable, which is good. We beat ourselves a little bit today, but we can fix those things,” Corbett said. “We are young, we need to learn from this, grow from this, but they’re all fixable mistakes.”
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