58 seconds was an auspicious number for Penn women’s lacrosse on Sunday.
58 seconds was all it took for senior Iris Williamson to net the Quakers’ first goal at Franklin Field against perennial powerhouse Northwestern, currently ranked eighth in the country.
58 seconds was also all it took for fellow senior Nina Corcoran to give No. 16 Penn the 14-13 win in overtime and defeat the eighth-ranked Wildcats (4-6, 0-1 Big Ten) for the first time since 2008.
“The reason we won was really the attack,” Penn coach Karin Corbett said. “Iris Williamson set the tone from the get go. I think she was unstoppable.”
Williamson exploded in the first frame, scoring four goals for the Quakers (7-3, 1-1 Ivy) and tallying one assist to help put Penn up 7-4 at the intermission.
In the second half, Corcoran stole the show, joining Williamson with five points on the day with four second-half assists and the game-winner in overtime.
“Last year [Nina] had a chance to win the game in overtime and it was a similar situation — it hit the pipe and they got it and then scored,” Corbett said of last year’s 9-8 overtime loss in Evanston, Ill. “It was really fitting that Nina was able to close the game out.
A sign of Corcoran’s playmaking ability, the senior’s four assists on Sunday made her only the second player in Penn program history to record 100 assists.
“She’s just a kid that’s not going to be shut down and really works her butt off to be the catalyst for this team,” Corbett said of the attack.
Although Corbett was thrilled that her team was able to pull out a win, the game should not have had to come down to a heroic goal from Corcoran.
“It was 12-5 with a lot of time left on the clock,” Corbett said. “We just couldn’t get the ball and they kept winning draw after draw after draw.”
While the Wildcats may have dominated possessions in the second half — scoring six unanswered goals at one point — Penn was able to fend off its opponent with masterful efficiency on offense.
“I knew that if we could win those draws I felt pretty confident that we could score because we had been shooting really well and really taking advantage of their defense,” Corbett said. “Our attack took it to them, and I was really proud of our team in how we really just owned those ground balls today.”
But at the end of the day, a win is a win, and Penn’s win over Northwestern on Sunday was certainly a big victory. The last time the Quakers walked away from their annual contest with the Wildcats on top was in 2008, a year when Penn held the top ranking in the country for multiple weeks and advanced all the way to the championship game in the NCAA Tournament.
The win on Sunday was key in re-establishing momentum for the Quakers, who recently sputtered through two losses to No. 1 Maryland on March 23 and a heartbreaking 10-9 upset loss to Dartmouth on March 27.
“It doesn’t matter who you play. You can’t play up for certain teams and just show up for other teams. It doesn’t work that way,” said Corbett. “We were beat by Dartmouth so now people think that we’re beatable.”
Although the Ivy loss to the Big Green does not help Penn’s quest to finish back on top of the Ivy League after failing to take home its ninth consecutive Ivy title in 2015, the season is far from over. Wins in each of the final five conference games of the season — including tilts against Cornell and Princeton, the League’s only two undefeated squads — could secure Penn a share of the Ivy crown.
“The destiny of the season is still in our hands,” said Corbett.
“Everything is on the line with every Ivy game.”
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