Everyone knows how much first impressions matter. To start its season, Penn women’s lacrosse certainly made a statement.
Kicking things off on the road at Newark, Delaware, this past Saturday, the No. 11 Quakers (1-0) pulled out a tight 9-7 victory over a strong Delaware team. Two Penn players managed to set career-highs for themselves en route to picking up the team’s first win of the season.
On the attacking side, junior Caroline Cummings set herself a new record after netting five goals. In the cage senior Britt Brown put in an excellent performance, securing a new benchmark of 14 saves. Cummings opened the scoring and put away the eventual game-winner, while several other Quakers got involved on the scoresheet, including a pair of goals from junior Alex Condon, and one apiece from freshman Gabby Rosenzweig and junior Natalie Stefan.
The win was never comfortable, however, as Delaware (0-1) outshot the hosts 25-14, in part due to 20 Penn turnovers and two missed free-position shots. Despite picking up all the points on the road, coach Karin Corbett believes her team has a lot of work to do.
“It was not a clean game for us. We made a lot of mistakes, but we’re happy that we pulled it out and got our first game under our belts with a win,” she said. “Britt Brown had a tremendous day today with 14 saves and really kept us in the game. We didn’t generate enough shots, and we had way too many turnovers, but we pulled it out. Our defense played a lot better in the second half, and we made some changes there and we looked better that way.”
Seeing as this was the first test for the squad, Brown, who also had two ground balls, agreed it was important to secure the victory and get some of the nerves out of the way for matches to come.
“I think we’re getting some of the first game jitters out. It’s good to have it under our belt, especially with a win,” Brown said. “I think going we’re going to work on our sound defense, and it’s just going to get better with time.”
Regarding her veteran goalkeeper, Corbett is certainly appreciative of the numerous stops made, but thinks the defense needs to make more of a team effort rather than be a solo show.
“Of course you’d love to have your goalkeeper make fourteen saves. But we can’t rely on her like that, and I think we gave up too many shots, especially in the first half,” Corbett said. “That’s not the plan to have our goalie make so many saves to win a game.”
For this week’s practice, Brown anticipates spending some time shoring up the back line in preparation for Johns Hopkins next weekend.
“We’re definitely going to work on the defensive end, cleaning up a few things, like the turnovers. We need to work on clearing the ball, and then keeping the ball when have it to create the best opportunities we can for ourselves,” she said. “We just have to touch up a few things before our next game.”
On the offensive side, Brown sees real strength in the depth up top, especially given that five Quakers recorded at least two points on the field today.
“I think it’s great this year that every single person on our attack is a threat. Every single person has the ability to score, whether it be a one-on-one or from a cut, and that’s really unique about us,” Brown said. “I’m excited to watch the freshmen on the field grow, and you never who’s going to be the one to score the goals.”
With seven freshmen playing attacking or midfield positions, the young players on the team will need to find a way to step and lead the Quakers to glory. The first win may be the hardest, but there is a long season ahead — Penn needs to shake off the rust to keep things on the right track for the bigger matches down the road.
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