Sophomores net first victory
February 28, 2011, 5:28 am · Updated February 28, 2011, 12:00 am·
Women’s lacrosse coach Karin Brower-Corbett expects big things from her sophomore class, and in the season opener against local rival Drexel, youth was served.
No. 6 Penn didn’t always make it look pretty, but behind six combined goals from sophomores Caroline Bunting, Kelly McCallion and Maddie Poplawski, the Quakers ultimately prevailed, 12-9.
“It’s nice to see sophomores who didn’t get on the field that much their freshman year to come back with that fight and that fire and the improvement that they had,” Corbett said.
Bunting and senior attack Giulia Giordano each tallied hat tricks for the Quakers, and McCallion and junior Erin Brennan chipped in two goals apiece.
“Caroline Bunting [has] just come back a different player,” Corbett said. “She’s playing with a ton of confidence. We really love to have the ball in her stick. She’s a great shooter.”
Penn came out aggressive offensively as Bunting scored less than two minutes in off a feed from junior Erin Brennan. The Quakers extended the lead to 4-1 but were held scoreless over the final 12 minutes of the first half.
A 3-0 Dragons run, highlighted by a free position goal with 18 seconds left, knotted it up heading into the break.
Giordano said that the annual season-opener against Drexel is always a “tough battle,” and this year’s matchup featured added familiarity because Drexel assistant coach Hannah Rudloff and volunteer coach Jill Taylor graduated from Penn’s team in the last two years.
With 24:34 to play, the Drexel bench was visibly fired up when the upset-minded Dragons took their first lead at 6-5. Corbett took a timeout to get her squad to regroup.
After being consistently burned on the same play, Corbett instructed her defense to put more pressure on the Dragons’ feeders behind the goal. The Quakers struggled at times with communication in picking up Drexel’s cutters, but Penn locked down after the timeout, allowing only one goal over the ensuing 13 minutes during a decisive 5-1 run.
“Drexel’s a fastbreak team, and sometimes we just got confused,” said junior goaltender and Daily Pennsylvanian videographer Emily Leitner. “They were really good at cutting off of our muddle.”
Penn was also called for 20 fouls, several of which led to free positions with an open path to the goal. The Dragons finished the game with three free position goals from point-blank range — the total would have been more had it not been for several huge saves by Leitner in the early going.
“We’ve got to foul less,” Corbett said. “I think that sometimes we’re undisciplined, and we come in late for the slide.”
After taking a 10-7 lead, Penn slowed the game down and traded goals the rest of the way for the final margin. Corbett was especially happy with the way her new-look attack executed a stall in the waning minutes.
Penn now has a week to prepare for a showdown with No. 3 North Carolina. Penn has defeated the Tar Heels in two of the past three years, but the Quakers will look to avenge last season’s 11-6 loss in Chapel Hill.
Corbett said the Quakers will need to have more ball movement, fewer sloppy clearing attempts and less one-on-one play on offense in order to stick with the athletic Tar Heels.
“They’re faster than us, and we have to beat them with the ball, not by running, it’s not going to work,” Corbett said. “It’s going to have to be a team effort because they’re so strong at every position.”