For nine minutes on Friday night, the Penn women's lacrosse team was on the verge of something big. Down 6-5 to No. 13 Cornell in the second half, the Quakers were on the attack, ready to make a major move. But Penn pressured and threatened the Big Red to no avail, as the Quakers came away empty-handed, unable to tie the game. And thanks to a flurry of late tallies, Cornell headed back to Ithaca with a 10-5 win. With the defeat, the Quakers (2-4, 0-2 Ivy League) fell to 0-4 against teams ranked in the Top 20 and once again came away empty when keeping the game within reach down the stretch. "We were nervous, there's no doubt about it," Cornell coach Jenny Graap said. "They put a big scare into us when it was a one-goal game there and Penn had the momentum." Trailing a talented Cornell (5-0, 2-0) squad, 5-3, at the half, the Quakers used a pair of goals by junior attacker Jenny Hartman to cut the deficit to 6-5 with 18:46 remaining and seemed sure to knot the score at any minute. But after 9:05 had elapsed and one Jayme Munnelly shot had deflected off the post, Penn still found itself down, 6-5 -- and the momentum was gone. "I thought our passing and our connections were better, and I think this was one of our best games," Quakers coach Karin Brower said. "But I think at the end, for the last 10 minutes, we got a little flustered and threw the ball away too much." Unlike Penn, the undefeated Big Red capitalized down the stretch. Goals by Cornell's Katie Lavin at 9:41 and Ginny Miles at the 5:52 mark took the wind out of the Quakers' sails and forced Brower to call a time out. Despite taking a number of quality shots, Penn could not find the net in the final 18 minutes. And while it is getting harder and harder for the Quakers to take moral victories away from their defeats, the team did see some positives in the contest. "Today was definitely a step in the right direction," Penn sophomore Christy Bennett said. "We moved the ball through the midfield more quickly and a lot more efficiently than we have been." This ball control was part of Brower's plan heading into the contest, as a means of counteracting Cornell's team speed. Indeed, for the first 12 minutes, Penn neutralized every facet of the visitors' play -- speed and scoring included. Until a Big Red shot found the net 12 minutes in, the game was a scoreless one characterized entirely by stingy defense. "It's good and it's bad when it's scoreless like that," Bennett said. "But I play defense, and I think it was great. Every minute we keep them out, and every time we stop their rush, it builds our confidence and gets us stronger for the next one." Even when Penn found itself down 2-0, the team was able to respond right away. After Quakers sophomore Whitney Horton won the ensuing faceoff -- Cornell's coach estimated her squad lost 13 of 17 faceoffs -- Munnelly streaked down the left side, ran behind the net and scored on a wrap-around shot to make it 2-1. Penn junior Traci Marabella found a wide-open Crissy Book off a free-position chance three minutes later to tie the game, and Penn kept pace with Cornell the rest of the day. Quakers goalie Alaina Harper made 10 saves, but her job was made difficult by the six free-position shots she faced. Cornell converted four of these chances -- given typically for defensive fouls -- much to the chagrin of the Red and Blue, who took exception to a few of the referees calls. Whatever the factors, in the end, the result was a much-too-familiar "L" for the Quakers. "This loss is bittersweet, because I think we know we put a lot more into this game than we put into other games, and we were hustling a lot more," Hartman said. "We put a lot of things together, and I think it's a good game to build off of."Comments powered by Disqus
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