You should never dig a hole that you can’t crawl out of. Unfortunately for Penn women’s lacrosse, the hole that they dug for themselves in the first part of Wednesday’s game was just a bit too deep.
The No. 14 Quakers squared off with the top team in the nation under the lights at Franklin Field, falling to Maryland by a score of 12-8 in a game that appeared to be a comfortable win for the Terrapins (7-0) until about 10 minutes in to the second half. Penn (6-2, 1-0 Ivy) went on a six-goal run to close the game out, but was ultimately unable to complete the comeback.
The first half was all Maryland. After Penn senior Catherine Dickinson scored her second goal of the game at the 15-minute mark to make the score 4-2, the Terrapins commanded the rest of the half. After scoring four straight goals, Maryland took an 8-2 lead into halftime while allowing just five shots from the Penn offense over the entire 30 minutes. If not for junior goalie Britt Brown’s play in net, the deficit could have been more — she finished Wednesday’s game with a career-high 13 saves.
Maryland came out hot again in the second half, scoring two goals in the span of a minute and a half. They would extend their lead all the way to 10 to make the game 12-2 with 21 minutes left in the game before the Quakers hit another gear.
Senior captain Lely DeSimone got the comeback started for the Quakers with 15 minutes left in the game, scoring off an assist from junior Emily Rogers-Healion. Three minutes later, Alex Condon scored her first of three goals on the night off a feed from senior captain Nina Corcoran, who put up two assists on the night to bring her season total to 23.
Sophomore Caroline Cummings and senior Iris Williamson both scored within two minutes of each other for the Quakers, bringing the score to 12-6. Condon then scored the final two goals of the game to complete the hat trick with two minutes left, capping off a 6-0 run for the Quakers. The Red and Blue ultimately fell short on the night but showed that they could hang with the top team in the country.
“It was all about heart and fight in that second half,” Corcoran said after the game. “We were down 12-2, and at that point we had no choice other than to win all of the 50-50 balls and just go after it. We had nothing to lose at that point, so we had to go down with a fight.”
And what a fight it was. The young Penn team that had struggled throughout most of the game showed resilience and fight on both ends of the field in the second half. Brown saved every shot she saw down the stretch and the defense caused turnovers and won loose balls every time the Terps came down the field, while the offense finally settled in and worked their gameplan more effectively.
“In the first half we were kind of just one-and-done on offense. We would have one opportunity, not finish it, and then go back and play defense for a long time,” Corcoran said. “In the second half we wanted to really work the ball a lot more, and I think once we worked them more opportunities came up.”
“For us in the first half we had to win the 50-50 ground balls, and we didn’t win those,” Brown said. “What really changed in the second half was that we went out and got those loose balls, whether it was off a save or a check from a defender and translated those into opportunities. It showed that we’re really resilient as a team, we’re really resilient as a defense.”
Despite these first half struggles, the Quakers showed that they have already grown up a lot by refusing to concede to a team that was up 10 goals on them, a team who had just beaten the No. 2 Florida Gators by 10 goals four days previously.
“This is a great group of girls, we love coaching them, and they just fight,” Penn coach Karin Corbett said. “We know that they’re going to fight till the end and I think that a lot of teams would have given up being down 12-2, but that is not this team. Hopefully that will carry us far into this season.”
Penn will look to rebound on Sunday in its second Ivy contest of the season at Dartmouth.
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