After two straight Ivy losses, the Penn men’s lacrosse team finally rekindled the fire that led to the surprising start to its season.
The No. 17 Quakers (6-3, 2-2 Ivy) rode a 5-0 run against Brown in Providence, R.I., to close the first half on their way to a bruising 10-3 victory behind a hat trick from sophomore attack Isaac Bock.
It was Penn’s first victory over the Bears (5-4, 1-2) in four years and also its largest victory over Brown since 1983 (16-8).
“Brown’s a good team, so you don’t expect to beat them by seven,” coach Mike Murphy said. “But the defense played well, the offense played well — you put all of this together, and you end up taking down a pretty good team.”
Despite similar shooting performances -— the Quakers barely outshot Brown, 33-29, and hit fewer on goal than the Bears — Penn did what the home team couldn’t: convert opportunities.
“We had the ball a lot more than they did,” Murphy said. “We got pretty good shots, [whereas] Brown got a lot of shots but either missed the cage or [goalie Brian Feeney] made the save.”
Bock scored the game’s first goal midway through the first quarter on a play set up by senior captain Tim Schwalje, but the Bears quickly tied the game less than a minute later.
Leading the team with seven shots, Bock then scored off another one of Schwalje’s team-high three assists and the Quakers never looked back.
The Red and Blue kept Brown in check thanks to a strong effort between the pipes by Feeney, who recorded 15 saves on the day on his way to amassing a career-best .833 save percentage.
In the second half at Stevenson Field, the Bears quickly reduced the deficit to 6-3 before freshman midfield Mark Leonhard scored with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
Neither team was able to get things going in the last period until Penn found the back of the net three times in the last three minutes.
Overall, the Quakers had more ground balls (34) and faceoffs won (14) than the Bears (26 and 4, respectively).
But Penn’s score could have been even greater if the Quakers, who entered the game with the second-worst turnover per game average in the conference, hadn’t turned the ball over 25 times.
“We turned the ball over too high, too much … that was a little bit frustrating,” Murphy said.
Junior midfield Zack Losco led the team with four points off two goals and two assists.
With a potential Ivy tournament berth on the line, the Red and Blue will have to show a similar effort — minus the turnovers — in their upcoming games against Harvard and Dartmouth.
And Murphy knows what his team must do if it wants to return to the tournament after missing out last year.
“[This past week] we had a pretty good sense of purpose approaching practice the right way,” Murphy said. “If we can just duplicate that, come off the win the same way we did coming off of the two losses, then we’ll be able to make some progress this week.”
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