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Penn junior Jenny Hartman had a hat trick in the Quakers' victory at Harvard. (Jacques-Jean Tiziou/DP File Photo)

BOSTON -- There was a reason the Penn women's lacrosse team watched Remember the Titans on the bus on the way home from its game on Saturday -- the team had just played like Titans. The Quakers, underdogs on the road, jumped out to an 8-2 halftime lead en route to their biggest victory in several years, an impressive 13-8 drubbing of Harvard (5-4, 0-3 Ivy League). The victory brings Penn's (5-5, 2-2) current winning streak to three and elevated the team to the .500 mark for the first time since before spring break. "This is a huge win for our team," Quakers coach Karin Brower said. "I was very excited that the girls came out to play from the start. This team is young and hasn't learned how to come back really, so it's important to come out early. We did it against Monmouth [a 12-3 win], and we did it again today." As Penn played keep-away to run out the clock in the final minutes and celebrated by singing "The Red and Blue" to its fans after the win, it was clear how much this victory meant. Jumping to a quick six-goal lead, having seven players find the net, and fending off a late comeback are all steps in the right direction for Penn, as the team prepares to face two top-10 squads in the next 10 days. "This win comes at the perfect time. It's going to do wonders for our confidence," said Quakers senior Amy Weinstein, the only player remaining from the last Penn squad to beat Harvard, back in 1998. Buoyed by the aggressive play of Weinstein and Christy Bennett on defense, Quakers sophomore Alaina Harper put forth a strong showing in net. Penn's keeper stopped two free-position shots, and denied the Crimson five times in one furious stretch to preserve an 8-2 lead going into the half. But the real story lay with the Quakers attack, which blitzed a surprised Harvard squad early. Down 1-0, Penn countered by running off six unanswered goals over a 20 minute span. Sophomore Whitney Horton started the barrage with a long-range shot, junior Traci Marabella found the net twice, and Lindsey Cassidy, Jayme Munnelly and Jen Hartman also put it home. A second goal from Hartman and Bennett's first score of the year raised the lead to 8-2, as the Quakers attack found success no matter where the ball was aimed -- high to the top shelf or low to the corners. One of the reasons Penn's attack found such success was that its defense was busy forcing turnovers and bad shots -- and winning the resulting loose balls. "We've been working hard to communicate better on defense, and for the first part of the game we did it good," Harper said. "But for a while in the second half we lost it." In the final 30 minutes, a resilient Crimson squad -- which had beaten No. 7 Boston University last week -- staged a furious comeback. Over a 15 minute period, the home team outscored the Quakers 6-2, cutting the lead to 11-8 with 10:16 to play. Two Kate Murray goals -- the second on a spin move that left a Harvard player on the ground -- were the only offense Penn could muster. "I don't think we ever got scared there," Weinstein said. "Maybe for a couple seconds we knew we had some things to work out -- their top players were going straight to goal, so we had to drop a little more, which we hadn't been doing." After five tense, scoreless minutes, the Quakers finally made something happen. A scramble for a loose ball in the midfield drew Harvard's defense into the fray, and once Marabella came up with the ball for Penn, she looked upfield and saw Hartman all alone, with no defender within 20 yards of her, and only the goalie to beat. Hartman didn't miss, as she bounced a shot in for a 12-8 lead and her third goal of the day. Horton followed with her second score, and from there, up five, Penn was able to simply run out the clock.

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