Maddie Poplawski’s ejection with 18:49 left in the second half epitomized the Quakers’ offensive struggles against Dartmouth on Saturday.
Though the Penn women’s lacrosse team held a 7-6 lead at the time, the Quakers failed to score over the last 24:45 of the game and fell to the No. 9 Big Green, 9-7.
“I think the whole game we were pretty flat on offense,” coach Karin Brower Corbett said, going on to characterize the offensive performance as “disjointed.”
The junior’s ejection was automatic after she received her second yellow card of the game.
Poplawski’s first yellow card seemed to be particularly unwarranted. She said she was looking at the scoreboard when a Dartmouth player ran into her stick and had her goggles knocked off.
“I was pretty mad about that,” Poplawski said.
“It’s not why we lost, but it didn’t help,” Corbett said. “And it’s unfortunate because I haven’t watched the tape yet, but I don’t think [her first penalty] was a yellow card.”
The loss drops Penn (6-5, 4-1 Ivy) a game behind Dartmouth (9-2, 5-0) in the conference standings.
Penn’s stagnant offense had trouble dealing with the Big Green’s double teams, according to Corbett.
“We did not run [the offense] the way we practiced the entire week before,” she said.
Offense came in spurts for the Quakers. All seven of their goals came within two six-minute spans, one in each half.
After a poor start led to two Dartmouth goals, Corbett called a timeout to help the team regroup. Coming out of the timeout, Penn scored its first string of goals. Poplawski, Lindsey O’Laughlin, Shannon Mangini and Courtney Tomchik all found the net as the Red and Blue grabbed a 4-2 lead.
But Dartmouth closed the half with three goals in less than three minutes to take a 5-4 lead into the break.
Penn opened the second half with three consecutive goals, two more from Poplawski and one from Meredith Cain, which put the Quakers up, 7-5.
All three of Poplawski’s goals came off free position, which she practiced all week against Penn goalkeeper Emily Leitner. Poplawski said this proved helpful, as Leitner and Dartmouth goalkeeper Kristen Giovanniello are both left-handed.
But without Poplawski in the final 18-plus minutes, the offense went cold.
Dartmouth responded with three goals to regain the lead, 8-7, before adding a goal on an open net with just under two minutes remaining and Penn pressing for an equalizer.
The back-to-back losses are the Quakers’ first of the year, though they have come against strong competition, including No. 1 Northwestern last week. Corbett said the team has been forcing the offense in recent games and needs to do a better job of taking its time.
Despite the loss, the Quakers will almost certaintly have a chance for a rematch. If Dartmouth wins the Ancient Eight regular season title, Penn will have an opportunity for revenge in Hanover, N.H., in the Ivy League Tournament.
With two conference games remaining, Poplawski said, “Our goal is to win both of those games and get back to Dartmouth.”
“I’d like to see them again in the tournament,” Corbett echoed. “They’re a team I’d like to be able to play our best against, and [on Saturday] we didn’t.”