Penn men’s lacrosse came in as the underdogs, and they almost pulled off the upset. Taking on second-seeded Yale as the No. 3 seed in the Ivy League Tournament, the Quakers fell in their first-round matchup with the Bulldogs, 7-6, on Friday.
Yale (12-2, 5-1 Ivy) got on the board first, netting a goal just three minutes into the game. But the Red and Blue (8-7, 4-2) were quick to respond as sophomore Kevin McGeary tied things up at one off an assist from freshman Tyler Dunn.
After the Elis took a 2-1 lead, Penn responded with two more goals of its own from junior Eric Persky and freshman Simon Mathias to grab a 3-2 edge with 10 minutes left in the first half.
It was a struggle to contain the sixth-ranked team in the country, however, and Yale was able to rattle off three unanswered goals in just under six minutes to take a 5-3 advantage. The Red and Blue were unable to muster a response before the half came to a close, maintaining the two-goal deficit heading into the break.
The first time the two squads faced, Penn took the then-No. 1 Bulldogs to overtime, proving unable to pull off the huge upset. As the second half got underway, there were quick flashes of that 11-10 April contest.
Barely two minutes into the third quarter, Dunn found the goal in his own right, cutting the Elis’ lead to one. Five minutes later, Dunn’s classmate, Alex Roesner, tied things up at 5-all. It looked as though the Quakers had come out of the break ready to take control of the game.
They couldn’t manage to take the lead, however. Yale’s Joseph Sessa put the Bulldogs back on top with five minutes left in the third quarter, the final goal of the period.
As the rains fell and the fourth quarter began, the Red and Blue set out to keep their season alive. Sophomore Reilly Hupfeldt fed the ball to junior Kevin Brown, who found the net with 11 and a half minutes to play.
From there, the scoring stagnated. Neither squad managed to find the net with the score tied up at six. It seemed as though the Quakers and Elis might be headed to overtime once again.
"It never felt like we were in control, but it also felt like with just one play here or there, we could have taken control," Penn coach Mike Murphy said.
But Yale had other plans. With just under four minutes left, the Bulldog’s Ben Reeves netted the go-ahead goal off of an assist from junior midfielder Eric Scott.
The Red and Blue couldn’t tie things up for a sixth time. McGeary got a shot off with 17 seconds to play, but it flew high and with three seconds left, Yale forced a final turnover that ended the Quakers’ hopes.
Although the game was even all around — Reed Junkin’s 10 saves for Penn matched the 10 for Hoyt Crance, and the 33-31 shot differential barely favored the Quakers — the final score was all that mattered.
"I feel like we had a chance to win," Murphy said. "We played hard, but we didn't make enough plays down the stretch."
With the loss, the Red and Blue were eliminated from the Ivy Tournament — and, with that, likely from a chance at an NCAA Tournament bid.
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