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Over 20 minutes had passed in the semifinal of the Ivy League Women’s Lacrosse Tournament, and No. 5 Penn found itself down 1-0 to Princeton.

At that moment, “it was do or die” for Princeton, said Penn coach Karin Brower Corbett after the game. “They came out ready to fight. We didn’t expect anything less, but I think they did catch us on our heels a little bit.”

Yet despite the slow start, the top-seeded Quakers eventually showed that they too came to fight.

Led by two goals late in the first half by sophomore attack Erin Brennan, the Quakers entered halftime up 3-1 and, thanks to senior Ali DeLuca’s four goals after the break, never trailed again. Penn would win the game, 13-9. The Red and Blue (13-3, 8-0 Ivy) will now face No. 10 Dartmouth (11-3, 6-2) in the final round Sunday afternoon at Franklin Field, with the winner clinching the Ivy League’s automatic NCAA tournament bid.

DeLuca — the unanimous Ivy League Player of the Year — backed up her accolades with four goals and four assists, nearly equaling the career-high nine points she notched in the regular season finale against Brown Sunday. Brennan also had a career game, scoring four goals.

“She really loves playing them,” Corbett said of the sophomore. “Her choices of schools came down to Georgetown, Princeton and Penn. I don’t know what it is. She just rises for it.”

At first, Penn struggled to hit the back of the net. Its first nine shots were either off target or saved by Princeton goalkeeper Erin Tochihara, who finished with 11 saves. But after Corbett called a timeout with 10:35 left in the half, Penn finally found its offensive rhythm.

“I think that our shot selection was a bit off, but we pride ourselves on not panicking in that situation,” DeLuca said. “There was never a sense of self doubt, and after we started scoring, that’s when our confidence went up.”

The Quakers maintained that confidence after halftime, scoring two quick goals to pull ahead 5-1. But the Tigers (6-10, 4-4) weren’t dead in the water yet. Princeton scored three goals in less than six minutes and had possession with a chance to tie the game.

But DeLuca — who, along with her senior classmates, has never lost an Ivy League game — would not let the Tigers even the score. She ripped off a powerful shot past Tochihara with just under 20 minutes left in the game, ending the Princeton run and starting an 8-1 Penn spurt that sealed the game.

“They really take advantage,” Princeton sophomore defense Lindsey deButts said. “You just can’t let up for any of those 60 minutes. Right when they went on that run, we just made little slip-ups on defense. They just took it to us.”

That refrain has been all too familiar for Princeton this year, which had a losing season for the first time since coach Chris Sailer’s original season in 1987.

However, Sailer said that the experience of playing in the Ivy Tournament (as well as the overtime upset of Dartmouth last Sunday that gave the Tigers the berth to the inaugural tournament) would “absolutely” give her young team momentum heading into next year.

For Corbett, a former assistant to Sailer from 1996-98, beating her former boss for the fifth straight time had an extra special meaning.

“I have a great deal of respect for Chris,” Corbett said. “They will always be known as one of the best programs out there, especially with Chris Sailer as the head coach. I always felt like they were the standard, so for me it is always such a huge game. … Every time that we play them, play well, and win, I feel such a sense of pride because I have so much respect for her.”

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