The Penn women’s lacrosse team faced two extremes this weekend.
On one end was a No. 3 squad with a roster chock-full of All-American attackers; on the other, a rebuilding program lacking in athleticism and depth.
The No. 8 Quakers split the difference, dropping Friday’s game against Maryland, 14-6, and trouncing Ivy League foe Columbia on Sunday, 19-8.
Although the Red and Blue came away with a loss against the Terps, senior goalkeeper Emily Leitner recorded a career-high 16 saves, six ground balls and four caused turnovers against the likes of Maryland (11-2, 2-1 ACC) All-Americans Karri Ellen Johnson and Katie Schwarzmann.
“I think everyone is pretty hyped when it’s a top team like that, and personally I’m always pretty excited when it’s some of the best shooters in the country,” Leitner said. “I kind of simplified, simplified and thought about staying positive and making the next play. That’s kind of what my mentality was.”
Just two days later, Leitner and the Quakers (6-3, 4-0 Ivy) channeled that mentality and bounced back to notch their fourth Ivy League victory of the year.
“They’re two way different teams, but at the same time we don’t underestimate any opponent,” said sophomore midfielder Shannon Mangini, who netted four goals against the Lions (1-8, 0-5). “We prepared for Columbia like we would prepare for any other team and coming off a loss like that.”
According to Penn coach Karin Brower Corbett, the Lions, who sit at the bottom of the Ancient Eight, are a building program.
“We were in that position when I first came to Penn and it’s not easy,” she said. “It’s getting your kids to gain confidence in themselves, but also to have some talent that they can succeed and that they can practice against every day, and that’s hard.”
The Quakers had no problem handling the struggling Columbia team. Senior captain Erin Brennan netted her four goals in the first half alone and led Penn to an 11-3 halftime advantage.
“What was great about [yesterday] was that everybody got in,” Corbett said. “And that’s just a great feeling because everybody works so hard and you hope that you have a game like this where everybody can get that opportunity to get on the field. So it was really nice that we were able to take the lead early and really do that.”
Without injured midfielders Maddie Poplawski, Tory Bensen and Lindsey Smith, nine differents Quakers contributed to the squad’s offensive effort, including junior Meredith Cain, who scored three goals.
The Quakers also succeeded in decreasing turnovers. After turning the ball over 15 times against Maryland and 13 times against Cornell, Penn played clean lacrosse and recorded only eight turnovers — many of which did not hurt the squad’s scoring or transition game.
“I think we really executed on the plays, which allowed us to get girls in off the bench,” Mangini said. “They just came right in and there was really no difference. They were scoring goals too.”
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