They just ran out of time. After launching a furious second-half comeback, Penn women’s lacrosse fell just short of an Ivy League Tournament title on Sunday.
The tournament’s No. 1 seed, the Red and Blue hosted third-seeded Cornell two days after an overtime win over Harvard. Sunday’s contest wouldn’t need the extra minutes, however, as the Big Red took advantage of an early lead to knock off the Quakers, 11-10.
Seeking to avenge a loss at the hands of the Red and Blue (13-4, 6-1 Ivy) last weekend, Cornell (13-4, 5-2) came out firing, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the game’s opening five minutes. Sophomore attack Caroline Cummings got Penn on the board after six and a half minutes with an unassisted goal to make it 2-1.
The Big Red responded with another pair of goals, however, putting the Quakers behind the 8-ball early as they brought the lead to 4-1. It seemed like the Red and Blue might take control back of the game, however, as junior goalkeeper Britt Brown saved a shot from Cornell’s Emily Tripodi before Penn senior attack Catherine Dickinson found the net off an assist from her classmate, Nina Corcoran.
The momentum would not stay with the hosts for long. Barely a minute after Dickinson’s goal, Joey Coffy netted another one for the Big Red, making it 5-2. Close on the heels of that goal was another for the visitors, making it 6-2 with 17 minutes remaining in the first half.
A goal from Corcoran cut the deficit to 6-3, but the Quakers continue their 2-to-1 trade-off, conceding two more goals as the opening half came to a close, going into the break trailing, 8-3.
Entering the second half, the Red and Blue came out firing. Sophomore Alex Condon scored for Penn on an assist from Corcoran to make it 8-4. With the assist, Corcoran broke the Ivy League single-season assist record, putting her total at 51 for the year and five away from the career record. She finished the day with two goals and three assists in an effort to take over the game late and close the early deficit.
“It’s obviously a goal that I’ve had for the season, but right now it’s kind of hard to soak it in,” Corcoran noted. “It’s a tough loss. But I wouldn’t have been able to have gotten it without my teammates, so a lot of credit goes to them.”
“She’s a tremendous player, one of the best players I’ve ever coached,” Penn coach Karin Corbett added. I’m proud of her, I don’t think she cares about that record right now, but she is the reason that we came back, she’s the reason that we are where we are.”
Once again, the Big Red responded as Catherine Ellis made it a 9-4 game. Although Penn won the faceoff after struggling on the draw early on — the Quakers won only one of 11 faceoffs in the first half — a quick turnover gave the Big Red possession and Tripodi quickly converted it into a score, setting Penn’s deficit at six.
Then, things got interesting. Down 10-4 with 20 minutes to play, the Quakers roared back to life. Over the next nine minutes, Dickinson, Condon, Williamson, Cummings and Corcoran all found the net as the Red and Blue scored five unanswered goals to make it 10-9.
“We started getting the ball more on the draw. We weren’t winning it in the first half, and you can’t win the game without the ball in your stick,” Corcoran said. “It was all about heart at that point. We knew we could attack and score once we got the ball, but we just needed to make that change of getting the ball in our hands.”
Corcoran also added an assist during that stretch, bringing her record-breaking season total to 52.
“Nina is a true competitor, and I think she puts this team on her back a lot and she lives the losses,” Corbett said. “She carries the losses hard and she learns from her mistakes, but she is the heart and soul of this team. And she really showed that today.
“It’s hard for someone like Nina to see that first half, frustration of not seeing the ball, but as you saw once we got the ball, Nina took over and ran this attack and allowed us that opportunity to come back.”
Cornell finally managed to stop the bleeding on a Tripodi goal with 7:38 to play, but this time it was the Quakers’ turn to respond. With six minutes remaining, Condon found the net for a third time on the day, making it 11-10 as the Red and Blue sought to complete the comeback.
On the subsequent draw, the Big Red won possession and managed to wind the clock down before Penn got the ball with a minute remaining.
Corbett called a time out with 47 seconds to go, and her team prepared for one final attempt at tying the game. Corcoran got a shot off, but it was no good and Cornell got possession back as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
“We did start to come back, and I also think we had some opportunities to win the game,’ Corbett said. “We shot poorly. Unfortunately, you put yourself in a hole that way defensively and then every shot matters and so every shot is magnified as a bad shot or, like, ‘Why did I take that shot?’ We just shouldn’t have been in that hole in the first place. Our defense has to play better going into NCAAs.”
Although the loss means the Quakers will not get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, their season is likely not yet over. The 10th-ranked team in the country, Penn stands in a strong position to earn an at-large bid to the tournament when the field is announced later on Sunday.
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