There were lead changes, there were highlight reel goals, there were superb saves, there was everything to play for. Friday’s showdown between No. 10 Penn women’s lacrosse and Harvard had just about everything you could possibly want from an Ivy League tournament game, with the Quakers scoring in overtime to win, 6-5, over the Crimson (9-7, 4-3 Ivy).
The effort was not always pretty, but in the Ivy League Tournament, where Penn coach Karin Corbett has previously said that any team could beat one another, a win is a win.
Friday’s game was low scoring, but it showed that the Red and Blue (13-3, 6-1) are by no means a one-trick pony. If the offense is not scoring, the defense can still be relied on to come up with a big stop. Goalkeeper Britt Brown can make a save that most goalies would have no business in stopping. Those two pieces played a big role in Penn’s victory today.
After 14 minutes scoreless minutes to start the game — not a result that the Quakers are used to after their recent fast starts on offense — senior attack Catherine Dickinson found herself right next to the net in a perfect position to score.
That goal started a long back-and-forth between the two teams until the end of the first half. With five minutes left in the opening frame, the Crimson had a 3-2 lead. In what Corbett called a “huge” moment for the team, sophomore midfield Alex Condon was able to put one away for the Quakers with just one second left in the first half. That tally brought the score to an even contest, with both teams having scored three.
The Quakers came out of the half a little flat, ultimately conceding two straight goals from Harvard in 13 minutes. Down 5-3 and with just over 17 minutes to play, it was do or die for Penn women’s lacrosse. Sarah Barcia, who has not had much success drawing penalties this season, gave Penn an opportunity to come storming back when she scored on a free position shot.
At that point, the Red and Blue had seemingly turned the tables and, over the next 10 minutes, would have firm control of the game. With under seven minutes left, Barcia would ultimately come up clutch for the Quakers once again, setting up Emily Rogers-Healion for the game-tying goal.
With both teams aware that the next goal would be their ticket to the Ivy League Tournament championship, the pressure intensified tenfold. Every call featured immense uproar from the sideline, and every play was being finished. It seemed as if neither team was affected by fatigue from the previous 55 minutes or the bone-chillingly cold rain.
Regulation ended with both teams tied at five. Then came the first overtime segment, a three-minute period, which saw no goals but some chances from both sides. Two minutes into the second leg of overtime, sophomore attack Caroline Cummings found an opening for herself to score the game-winning goal.
Attacking the net, Cummings was able to shake off her assignment, Harvard’s Megan Hennessey, after the Crimson midfielder went for a check. After that it was smooth sailing.
“Once I saw her go for it, I pulled inside so I had that opening and then I just took it to the goalie. … Moving the goalie was crucial,” Cummings said.
When asked about the importance of the goal, Cummings showed great selflessness in her response, sharing how she was most happy that Friday’s game would not be the senior class’ potential sendoff game.
“We didn’t want this to be their last game on the Frank.”
Of course, the overtime goal is as memorable as they come, but the defense deserves a lion’s share of the credit as well. Over the two times the Quakers and Crimson have faced off, Penn’s midfield and defense have allowed just 12 goals. The Crimson, in their other contests, average double that.
“Tonight the defense came up really strong,” Corbett said, also praising the play of goalie Britt Brown. “I’m glad that the defense could be so strong and give our attack opportunity after opportunity.”
Credit certainly goes to the team resiliency that has been on display time and time again this season. The Quakers can sometimes give up leads but they are even better at stealing leads from other teams and Friday’s game showed this in full effect.
“They want to win and they have the determination to do it with the work that they put in every day,” Corbett said. “They’re a joy to coach.”
On Sunday, the Quakers will conclude the Ivy League Tournament when they host Cornell. The two faced off last weekend, with the Red and Blue winning, 10-6. Still, complacency is not going to be a factor heading into Sunday’s matchup, according to senior attack and captain Nina Corcoran.
“Regardless of if we were playing Cornell or Princeton we were going to have our work cut out for us anyway.”
And, while one day may seem like a very demanding turnaround, both teams will surely come out on Sunday ready to win in order to give themselves a guaranteed berth to the NCAA Tournament.
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