On paper, it’s hard to imagine that Penn women’s lacrosse could have many gripes with its 2016 season. The Quakers were Ivy League co-Champions (the team’s ninth title in ten years), quarterfinalists in the NCAA Championships, and they had a plethora of individual award winners, including captain Nina Corcoran winning Ivy League Attacker of the Year and Karin Corbett winning Ivy League Coach of the Year.
For all they had, however, they still wanted more.
For starters, this team did not want to lose to Dartmouth in the early stages of the Ivy League season.
The Quakers got out to a roaring start, with seven victories in the first nine games, including a 8-3 trouncing of Brown, but Dartmouth came prepared to stymie the Corcoran-led attack. In the end, the Red and Blue narrowly fell by the score of 10-9.
“We were much more athletic than Dartmouth, but they had a great game plan, and we really struggled with it,” coach Karin Corbett said. “That was a tough loss. We were the best team in the league.”
Despite the unpalatable nature of this early loss, it shifted the mindset of the team in a positive way, and the team worked to make sure that there was “no question that we share [the title],” as Corbett put it.
The Quakers did not drop a game in the Ivy League after that, and this run of victories included a 10-6 win over Cornell and a decisive 12-7 triumph against Princeton — the same team that shared the Ivy League title with the Red and Blue. This didn’t sit too well with many of the players.
“We were obviously happy to have the title, but to share it with Princeton kind of stings,” senior Megan Kelly said.
Junior Alex Condon echoed this sentiment. When asked if that was the biggest regret of the 2016 season, Condon replied, “Yes, I think so.”
After being crowned co-champions, the Quakers set their sights on the NCAA National Championship, and were seeded at No. 7 for the tournament. Wagner and Towson were the first two challengers, and the Red and Blue took care of them easily by scores of 17-7 and 12-4, respectively. The Quakers were then faced with Penn State, a competitor that coach Corbett felt the team had a “great opportunity” to defeat. Unfortunately, the offense that had been so prolific throughout the year had an off day, and they fell by a score of 8-4.
“We had many opportunities. Our defense played really well and we were getting the ball back a lot, creating more and more opportunities as they were trying to stall. But we shot 4-for-25, and my three top point-getters had zero goals,” Corbett said. “The stars were just not aligned for us. It was one of the toughest losses as a coach since I’ve been here because I knew how capable those kids were.”
Those top three point-getters were Nina Corcoran, Iris Williamson and Alex Condon, and of them, only Condon is returning this season. Corcoran, a three-year captain, had a historic career with the Quakers, with Corbett describing her as “one of the best players I’ve coached.”
Condon acknowledges that the offensive dynamic will shift this season, but is optimistic in the new recruits the team has brought along.
“[Corcoran] was a true leader of our attack, and just a very selfless player,” Condon said. “It definitely hurts not having her and her leadership on our attack this year, but I think we have a lot of girls coming up and I think we’ll be able to make do.”
The team finished the season with an impressive 15-5 record, with a 6-1 Ivy League record to go along with that. They had a very good season, but, in their eyes, it was not good enough.
“I think we’re coming back with a vengeance,” Kelly said.
They’re also coming back with ten new faces, six of whom were All-Americans in high school. As a result of this and the plethora of experience on the roster, the team was ranked No. 11 in national preseason polls, the highest of any Ivy League school.
When asked what her expectations for the coming season are, Kelly confidently responded, “to dominate the Ivy League and then go on to win a National Championship.”
Her confidence is not ill-placed.
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