After losing a talented senior class featuring three All-Americans coming in to the year, some were doubting that Penn women’s lacrosse could see the same success this year that they had before. But at least for now, the team managed to cast all doubts aside.
The No. 13 Quakers were victorious in their season-opener against Delaware at Franklin Field on Saturday, winning 12-10, in a game where they never trailed. Penn (1-0) jumped out to a 3-0 lead before trading blows with the Blue Hens (2-1) for the rest of the first half, with each team scoring skillful goals in transition and in tight on the crease.
Coming out of halftime, the Quakers got back on the board first courtesy of senior captain Lely DeSimone, who scored her third goal of the day for the hat trick. Penn dominated possession for the first part of the second half, letting their offense work the ball around for long stretches and allowing Penn to score five of the first seven goals coming out of halftime.
But after Penn senior Iris Williamson’s goal at the 17-minute mark of the second half, the Blue Hens managed to swing momentum in their favor, scoring three goals over the stretch of just six minutes to make the score 12-10 with four and a half minutes remaining in the game.
But the Red and Blue defense managed to hold off the Delaware attack for the rest of the contest, showing heart and persistence in a four-minute defensive stand to hold off the energized Blue Hens from completing the comeback. The final horn sounded as Penn celebrated its first win of the season.
DeSimone and fellow senior co-captain Nina Corcoran led by example for Penn, with DeSimone recording a hat trick while Corcoran scored two goals and added four assists for a total of six points on the day.
“Lely and Nina are tremendous captains,” coach Karin Corbett said after the game. “They are always striving to be better, and they have really high goals for themselves and this team. Any mistake they make they take ownership of and it fires them up to do more. They have such high standards for themselves and they hold themselves and their teammates accountable, which is great.”
The biggest storyline coming in to the day was seeing how some of the new starters and freshmen were going to fill the shoes of the tremendously talented class of 2015, including who would be backstopping the net to replace All-American Lucy Ferguson. Junior transfer Britt Brown was given the starting job for the Red and Blue on Saturday, and she did not disappoint, making nine saves and bailing out the Quakers when they needed her most.
“Delaware has a lot of threats,” Corbett said. “And that last stand showed that they were very composed and really understood who Delaware’s best players were, so I was pleased with that.”
Corcoran echoed Corbett’s words after the game, giving high praise to the younger members of the team who had big shoes to fill.
“I think that today they played awesome and really stepped up," she said. "Obviously we lost a lot of big seniors and we have to gaps to fill, but it gives our underclassmen the opportunity to really shine. I mean [freshman] Katy Junior, in her first game on defense, had three caused turnovers which is awesome, so I was really happy with everyone.”
The game wasn’t without its critiques, however. Penn faces seventh-ranked Duke next week, and they’ll need to clean up their play a bit if they want to win against the Blue Devils.
“Our attack needs to play at a higher pace,” the Penn coach conceded. “We did that in the first half, and then it seemed to get stagnant and slow and even a bit careless. We had about four unforced errors, and those turnovers were what allowed them to come back. Throwing the ball away under just a little bit of pressure, things like that we’ve got to clean up because a team like Duke is going to put it down our throat.”
The Quakers will travel to Durham next Sunday to take on the Blue Devils at noon.
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