On a night when sophomore goalie Max Polkinhorne electrified the large crowd at Rhodes Field, it was Providence’s keeper, Keasel Broome, who ended the night dancing before Penn’s student section.
As the game went on, it seemed as though Polkinhorne would make the save no matter how ridiculous. With each save, the level of difficulty increased. He finished the game with 10 saves, and he truly kept Penn in the game.
From Polkinhorne’s perspective though, it was nothing special.
“I was just doing my job,” he said.
But when the Red and Blue stepped into overtime, something caused Polkinhorne’s magic run to end.
He stayed true to form on the first shot of penalties, making a leaping save to his right, but from there on out, the Friars took control of the shootout.
“Penalty kick shootouts, it’s kind of up to chance,” Polkinhorne said. “I wasn’t counting my chickens.”
With senior keeper Tyler Kinn close to coming back, coach Rudy Fuller decided to stick with Polkinhorne, who had performed well in Cambridge for the Ivy League title last Saturday.
And he carried that momentum into the contest in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It just wasn’t enough for Penn to get the ‘W.’
Before penalties, Providence threw Penn’s student section off, switching sides and potentially swinging the energy in the Friars’ direction.
But more realistically, the penalty shootout was simply Penn succumbing to the run of play, which was on Providence’s side for most of the night.
Even Polkinhorne fell victim to the Friars’ control, though he held it off for as long as possible.
Penn came in hoping that the team could capitalize on the amount of games that the Friars had played in the Big East tournament.
“We wanted to make it an up-tempo game,” junior forward Duke Lacroix said.
That involved trying to capitalize on more long balls, and early, it looked as though that plan would pay off, like when freshman forward Alec Neumann slammed it home off of a beautiful pass from fellow classmate Matt Poplawski.
But as the night went on, Providence continued getting shots — the Friars finished the game with 29 — and Penn couldn’t get anything going.
There wasn’t much that Polkinhorne could do though. Providence had a larger team than the Quakers, and it wore Penn down over the course of the 110 minutes of gameplay.
Polkinhorne kept the team in the match, but for Penn to come out with a victory, the Quakers needed one of their offensive weapons to step up — and it just didn’t work out that way.
Sophomore Forrest Clancy had a shot to win the game with less than a minute left in regulation. Coming across the box, he put his left foot on the ball, but it sailed wide.
Senior Stephen Baker sat for both overtimes, despite having two shots on goal.
As the night wore on, Penn’s offense faded while Providence’s surged.
The Friars had seven shots in overtime, as well as four corner kicks, while the Quakers could only get off one lonely shot in the extra twenty minutes.
Coach Rudy Fuller tried his best to stay out of penalties, having three forwards in the game in the second overtime, but his strategy didn’t pay off.
Lacroix, one of those three forwards in overtime, tried his best to find opportunities, and while he made plays in the open field, he couldn’t find the net.
It was just one of those days.
The 700 people that filled Rhodes weren’t enough.
Lacroix’s countless on-ball moves to keep his defenders off guard weren’t enough.
And even Polkinhorne, who made Rhodes roar louder than it has in a long time, wasn’t enough.
JOHN PHILLIPS is a senior English major from Philadelphia, Pa. and is a sports editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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