I have been to many a regular season lacrosse game in my four years covering the women’s lacrosse team. But none of them had the atmosphere that was present at Franklin Field last Friday when Northwestern came to town.
That will happen when you host the No. 1 team in America, a true powerhouse in the sport.
The announced attendance was 1,120 — more than double that of the last time Northwestern rolled into town and almost 800 more than the team’s previous average. While the attendance figure provided by the Penn Athletic Department at a non-ticketed event must be taken with a grain of salt, the number seems reasonable, since the first level of the south side of Franklin Field was packed with students, fans and many high-school lacrosse players.
Also in attendance were several Penn athletes, most notably men’s basketball guard Rob Belcore in crutches. A few former Penn lacrosse players of note took in the action as well, including Allison Ambrozy, Rachel Manson and Sarah Waxman from the Class of 2008 and Becca Edwards from the Class of 2009.
Excluding Penn athletes, there were hundreds of regular students in attendance, perhaps because a free barbecue and tailgate was held as a part of Penn’s Greek Week.
With so many fans in attendance and a nationally prominent opponent in the house, the game was a golden opportunity for the lacrosse team to not only earn a critical victory, but also to establish itself as the marquee spring sport.
But unfortunately, the Quakers fell, 12-8, to the Wildcats.
This is not to insinuate that Penn choked. Beating Northwestern is an extremely tough task; there’s a reason the Wildcats are 94-3 in their last 97 games.
But the Quakers did underperform slightly. Penn had chances to score, but just couldn’t capitalize. The Quakers had 23 shots — two more than the Wildcats — including a whopping 18 in the second half. But eight out of those 23 weren’t even on target.
Not one aspect of the game epitomized this more than free position shots. Penn did an excellent job getting to the eight-meter line, especially in the second half, when a sense of urgency led to five free position attempts. Yet the Quakers could only convert a single time, with at least as many attempts completely missing the target.
“If we had been able to capitalize on those eight meters we would have won the game,” coach Karin Brower Corbett said after the game. “And we got to shoot better when we get those chances. … I think it was our worst eight-meter shooting day we’ve had all year, and that’s a shame.”
Manson, a former attack who scored the third most goals all-time in Penn’s history, mentioned that she thought the Quakers’ shots weren’t falling due to the way they were releasing the ball and gripping the stick.
Fundamentals aside, Penn didn’t really have a chance to win, considering it lost the draw control battle 15-7.
That’s a shame because a win in front of such a large crowd really would have shown the Penn community that the women’s lacrosse team is the top attraction once men’s basketball is over — particularly with the men’s lacrosse program struggling, and baseball playing miles away at Meiklejohn Stadium.
Granted, a loss doesn’t mean the team will fall off the face of the earth. But it will be harder to keep up the atmosphere that was there Friday, especially once the free food and No. 1 team in the nation are no longer on 33rd and South.
—Staff writer Jennifer Scuteri contributed reporting to this article. ZACH KLITZMAN is a senior history major from Bethesda, Md., and is a former Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.Comments powered by Disqus
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