There’s a saying that goes “Good things come in threes.” At least, that’s what Penn women’s lacrosse would like to believe, as it continues on the path toward its third consecutive Ivy League Tournament title.
As the 18th-ranked Quakers (11-3, 5-1 Ivy) welcome No. 24 Cornell to Franklin Field for Sunday’s final regular season contest, they hope to prevail in what will be the first of two consecutive matches between the teams. Next Friday, the squads are guaranteed to face each other in the first round of the Ivy League Tournament—Princeton has already clinched the top seed.
On one hand, Sunday’s match may allow Penn to get a better sense of the Big Red’s (9-5, 4-2) strengths and weaknesses in anticipation of the tournament. Still, the lack of time in between the two Cornell games will make it difficult for the Quakers to make significant strategy changes before the second contest.
“It is challenging to play a team twice over the span of five days,” coach Karin Corbett said. “Usually, you have a few weeks to shape your strategy after you plan a team. However, the time constraint gives us limited time to retool our game plan in between the two games.”
Fortunately for the Red and Blue, the tournament is familiar territory. They have participated every year since its inception in 2010, a feat unmatched by any other team.
“We are used to having a target on our backs,” Corbett said. “There have been five tournaments, and we have won three of them. We know what to expect, and I think that puts us in good shape.”
This weekend pits the conference’s top scoring offense against Penn’s stingy defense, which allows the fewest goals per game in the Ancient Eight.
Impressive performances could be on tap from Penn senior captain Tory Bensen and Cornell junior captain Lindsay Toppe, who are first and second in the Ivy League with 43 and 42 goals, respectively.
Penn expects to face formidable competition from Cornell’s sophomore goalkeeper, Renee Poullott, who was recently named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week. Poullott made two clutch saves with under a minute remaining last week against Harvard, preserving her team’s narrow 10-9 victory over the Crimson.
With a win this weekend, Penn could still have an outside shot at a remarkable ninth consecutive regular season Ivy League title. The Quakers need a win against Cornell as well as a loss by 11th-ranked Princeton versus Brown. Such a result would grant the Red and Blue and Tigers each a share of the conference championship.
Looking towards the tournament, Penn appears ready for whichever opponent it draws. After Sunday’s matchup, the Quakers will have played every team in the Ivy League, and so will be reasonably familiar with any of their opponents come tournament play.
“We are going to prepare equally for three teams,” Corbett said. “You never know which team you are going to play, since anyone could win in a given game.”
The team that ends up with a win on Sunday will be the higher seed between the two heading into the tournament, and the momentum boost could prove invaluable going forward.Comments powered by Disqus
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