Penn dispatches No. 4 Duke before Ivy Tournament
Quakers upset Blue Devils, improve NCAA Championship seeding
April 30, 2011, 1:41 am · Updated April 29, 2011, 12:00 am·
Coach Karin Brower Corbett said her Penn women's lacrosse team had nothing to lose going into Friday's nonconference matchup with No. 4 Duke. The Quakers proved, however, that they had much to gain.
With a 13-10 win at Drexel's Vidas Field, No. 10 Penn's main advantage was a confidence boost heading into next weekend's Ivy League tournament at Franklin Field, which was occupied Friday for the Penn Relays. The added bonus from Penn's upset is a near-guaranteed spot in the NCAA tournament in May, regardless of what happens in the Ancient Eight championships.
"It's huge," said sophomore midfield Meredith Cain, who scored three goals and added an assist and a ground ball. "We needed that. We're ready for Princeton."
When Princeton returns to Franklin Field Friday for the first round of the Ivy Tournament, it will be much more than an old Ivy League rivalry for the top-seeded Quakers. They'll be out for revenge against the Tigers, who handed Penn its first league loss in five years — on senior night, no less — two weeks ago.
So in preparing for what could be Penn's final game at Franklin Field this year, a victory over an elite Duke team goes a long way.
The win wasn't easy for the Quakers, but it also wasn't as hard as some of their recent games, considering that the Red and Blue didn't fall into a deficit in the early going, as has been their tendency. The first 10 goals Friday were back and forth between Penn and Duke as each team capitalized on several free position chances.
But eight minutes in, Cain and then freshman Lindsey Smith broke the stalemate with unanswered goals, and the Quakers went into the half up 9-7.
After 30 minutes of watching the Blue Devil's defense, however, Corbett was able to make some half-time adjustments, and Penn scored three more unanswered to take a commanding 12-7 lead six minutes into the second period. Those adjustments included finding senior Bridget Waclawik, who had two unassisted scores in the run and finished with three goals and an assist.
"We knew that they were going to come out ready to fight and try to get it back, and we just came out and answered harder," Cain said.
Cain would add one more off a beautiful feed from senior Giulia Giordano, and the Quakers would ride out the remaining 20 minutes allowing two Duke goals and hanging on for the win. Junior goalkeeper Emily Leitner came up with several big saves in the second half to preserve Penn's lead.
"I think some people thought that the UNC game was a little fluke," Cain said, "but we proved to them that it wasn't and we are a top team and we're ready to compete."
Corbett added that she thought the Ivy League hadn't been getting much respect recently, and that wins over No. 3 North Carolina and now No. 4 Duke might change that. It's a timely proposition with the NCAA tournament just around the corner.
"It helps us even if we don't — well, hopefully we will win the tournament," Cain said with a laugh. "But if we don't, it just proves that we can play against the top teams."