There’s going to be a battle for the top spot in the Ivy League on Wednesday, and Penn women’s lacrosse has been tested and is ready to go as it looks to reclaim the title it has held eight of the last nine years.
Thanks to an 8-7 over Harvard on Saturday, the No. 17 Quakers (9-3, 3-1 Ivy) have retained control of their own destiny. Stout defensive play late in the weekend contest kept the Red and Blue rolling before they take on first-place Princeton on Wednesday.
“I feel like we needed this win,” Penn coach Karin Corbett said. “Does it propel us into [Princeton]? I just think it’s Princeton, and a loss today, a win today, it’s Princeton.”
After a scoreless 10 minutes to open the game, junior Emily Rodgers-Healion got Penn on the board first — and the Crimson (7-4, 3-2) quickly responded as Alexis Nicolia tied things up less than a minute later.
The Quakers fell behind midway through the first half as Harvard found the net for a second time, creating a one-goal deficit that finally lit a fire under a Red and Blue offense that had struggled to get much going in the game’s first 15 minutes.
Less than a minute after the Crimson took the lead, senior Lely DeSimone tied the score at two — but Penn wasn’t done there. Rodgers-Healion found the net again a minute later, followed by goals from junior Sarah Barcia and senior Catherine Dickinson. The four-goal run put the Quakers up 5-2, and they wouldn’t look back from there.
“I think we came out excited for the game,” sophomore attack Alex Condon said, “but to actually come out and get four goals and to get our rhythm and calm down, settle down and get rid of those first-half jitters was good.
Although Harvard managed to score twice before the end of the half, they would never tie things up, thanks to Condon’s decision to take the game over in the second half.
Following the break, it was Condon that resumed scoring for the Quakers, finding the net just over five minutes into the second half to make it 6-4. When Harvard scored a few minutes later, Condon netted a goal to open back up the two-goal lead.
“[Condon]’s just really come into her own and is someone we can count on,” Corbett said. “She’s a great finisher and she’s gaining confidence every game, so I’m really excited about her.”
From there, things got a little tight. The Crimson made it 7-6 just under 15 minutes into the second half and, controlling possession for much of the next eight minutes, had repeated chances to tie the contest up.
Thanks to a defensive stand led by junior Britt Brown between the pipes, the Red and Blue were able to hold off the Harvard attack until a turnover translated into a goal at the other end by none other than Condon — her third score of the half.
“Harvard did a good job defending my cuts, so in the second half I looked to drive more,” Condon noted after scoring her 22nd goal of the year, ninth best in the Ivy League.
Up two goals with six minutes to go, the Quakers were able to stave off a Crimson run, ceding a goal with 33 seconds left that Harvard couldn’t build on before time expired.
“Our defense has struggled a little bit in the last couple games and I thought that — this is a high-powered attack — and I thought that we did a nice job of really holding them when we needed to do that and so I was really proud of them on that,” Corbett said. “That was some great stances in the second half from our defense.”
With the win — and Princeton’s 8-7 victory over Cornell — Penn stands just a game out of first place in the Ivy League behind the Tigers (9-3, 4-0). Having won three straight, the Quakers will need to make it four on Wednesday if they want to move back into first.
The game will mark the first leg of a three-game road trip that will close out regular season play for the Red and Blue as they look to claim their ninth Ivy title in the last ten years.
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