The rain wasn’t the only thing putting a damper on Penn men’s lacrosse’s Alumni Day.
After blitzing the No. 19 Quakers with a 7-1 run to open up the game, No. 15 Princeton proceeded to dominate the rest of the contest en route to a 17-8 victory.
In a perfect example of the workings of Murphy’s Law, everything that could potentially go wrong for Penn (3-3, 0-1 Ivy) went wrong. The Red and Blue were outplayed in virtually every facet of the game — from settled offense and defense to ground balls and the turnover battle.
Especially problematic for the Quakers was their overall inability to win one-on-one battles. On the offensive end, established scorers like sophomore attackman Simon Mathias and junior midfielder Kevin McGeary worked tirelessly to beat their defensemen off the dodge, but their efforts went largely unrewarded. Additionally, on the few occasions that a Penn offensive player was able to gain an advantage, the Princeton defense clamped down with perfectly executed slide packages.
Unfortunately for the Quakers, Penn’s defense was unable to replicate the defensive clinic put on by the Tigers (5-2, 1-0) . Quick passing and precise shooting by the Princeton offense left the Penn defense and goalie Reed Junkin looking confused all game long.
Junkin, in particular, was left out to dry all too often, with a large percentage of Princeton’s goals coming from right on the doorstep, contributing to his 34.8 save percentage.
Leading this offensive onslaught by the Tigers was attackman Michael Sowers. Posting a stat line of five goals and four assists, he proved again why he’s not only one of the best freshmen in the nation, but also one of the best players, period.
Luckily for Princeton, Sowers was not alone, as fellow attackman Gavin McBride contributed five goals of his own and All-American senior midfielder Zach Currier was all over the field, de-sticking Penn midfielders and picking up loose balls seemingly at will.
Combatting Currier in the midfield was Connor Keating, one of the few Penn bright spots on the day. The junior long stick midfielder scored two goals for the Quakers and was effective on the face-off wing throughout. Especially as Penn’s difficulties scoring goals from their settled offense continue, Keating’s abilities to generate scoring chances from the defensive end will be highly valued as the season progresses.
Joining Keating in the scoring column for the Quakers were Mathias with two goals, sophomore attackman Tyler Dunn with a goal and two assists, junior midfielder James Farrell with a goal, and midfielders Kevin McGeary and Reilly Hupfeldt with a goal and an assist each.
This balanced scoring could be seen as a positive for Penn, but it must be noted that four of these goals were scored in the fourth quarter after Princeton had iced the game.
As was the case last weekend against Michigan, Penn’s slow start ultimately buried them, but unlike in the Michigan loss, there was no spirited comeback this time for the Red and Blue, as Princeton’s lights-out shooting kept Penn from threatening at any point in the game.
Both teams entered the game coming off of a loss — Penn to Michigan last Saturday and Princeton on Wednesday to Rutgers, the fifth-ranked team in the nation according to the USILA. Whereas the Tigers were able to use the loss as a motivational tool, the Quakers appeared sluggish, which is surprising given that they were playing at home against their arch rival on Alumni Weekend.
The loss is not only detrimental to morale and momentum, but it also puts Penn in a hole for Ivy play. With seven teams battling for four spots in the Ivy League Tournament, every game truly matters, making next Saturday’s contest at Cornell a must-win.
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