On Saturday, despite unseasonably cold temperatures and the steady fall of snow on Franklin Field, the Bears refused to hibernate.
Instead, No. 2 Brown dominated Penn in an Ivy League matchup that was over before it really had a chance to start. The Quakers, failing to build on last week’s heartbreaking overtime loss No. 1 Yale, fell to their Providence-based rivals by a score of 17-5.
Whereas the matchup with the Bulldogs saw the Red and Blue (5-5, 2-2 Ivy) lead for nearly the entire contest, Penn led Brown (9-1, 3-0) for just one minute and 29 seconds in the first quarter — off the opening goal by sophomore attackman Reilly Hupfeldt. The encouraging start, however, was quickly undone by the highly potent Brown offense. Led by junior Dylan Molloy, the Bears found the net seven times before the end of the first period. Adding insult to injury, Penn was held scoreless for a stretch of 27 minutes, a defensive lockdown that can be attributed to the superlative performance of Brown's senior captain and All-American goalkeeper Jack Kelly.
By the time Penn freshman Simon Mathias stopped the cold streak with 1:41 left in the half, the scoreboard read 11-2, ensuring little chance of a Quaker comeback.
Another 5-0 spurt to open the second half simply added insult to injury, rendering Penn goals by Tyler Dunn, Kevin McGeary and Joe Licciardi meaningless.
Molloy dominated Brown's offensive output, exploding for a season-high eight goals. The reigning Ivy League Player of the Year consistently flashed his individual brilliance, recording an 88.9 shot percentage. In a demonstration of Brown’s high-paced motion offense, all of Molloy’s goals were assisted, a fact owed to the team’s quick passing and the perpetual off-ball cuts by the Brown junior.
Molloy, with 125 career goals, now occupies the third spot on the Bears’ all-time scoring list, behind five-time Major League Lacrosse All-Star Dave Evans and former Dartmouth head coach Andy Towers. Molloy was matched on the other side of the field by Kelly, who logged 15 saves while allowing just four goals. Many of Kelly’s defensive efforts came against point-blank shots, as the senior captain put both his body and stick to use in fending off the Quaker onslaught.
Despite the crushing loss, however, Penn can draw some positives from their loss to the Bears. Although the scoreboard told a different tale, the Red and Blue led in several statistical categories, outshooting the Bears, 50-42, and out-hustling their opponents to gain an advantage in ground balls. The Quakers also appear to have finally resolved their face-off struggles, a point of emphasis for Murphy and his staff over the past few weeks of the season.
Heading into last week’s matchup with Yale, Penn sported an unsightly 36.4 percent faceoff win percentage, but over the past two matches, the Quakers have raised that mark to 43 percent. This improvement is due in large part to the play of sophomore Chris Santangelo, who has taken on full-time duty as Penn’s man at the X.
The Quakers, however, will need to improve in other areas. Penn committed five penalties, resulting in important extra-man opportunities for Brown. The Bears capitalized, scoring 3 goals while a member of the Red and Blue idled in the penalty box. And most crucial to Penn’s demise was an excess of turnovers; the Quakers coughed it up 20 times, allowing the three-pronged attack of Brown to get out in transition.
Penn have much to improve on if they hope to compete with their conference brethren. The Quakers will look to snap their three-game losing streak when the Crimson visit Franklin Field next week, a matchup that holds crucial implications for seeding in the season-ending Ivy League Tournament.
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