It’d been sixteen days since Penn women’s lacrosse topped Princeton in an emotional, physical affair, leading from start to finish and giving their bitter rivals their first — and ultimately only — Ivy League loss of the year.
In the teams’ first meeting since then, the Tigers made sure revenge would be sweet.
In the opening semifinal of the Ivy League Tournament, third-seed Princeton wasted no time giving its payback to second-seed Penn, jumping out to a 5-1 first-half lead and dominating in the second frame en route to a surprisingly comfortable 17-8 win. With the loss, Penn can no longer clinch the Ivy League’s automatic NCAA Tournament spot, instead needing to wait until the at-large bids are announced on Sunday night.
Though the first matchup saw some fantastic offense from Penn (13-3, 6-1 Ivy) in a 17-12 win, Friday’s affair was all about Princeton senior and 2016 IWLCA Goalkeeper of the Year Ellie DeGarmo early on.
The No. 7 Quakers managed to get shots up all day long, finishing with an Ivy tournament-record 34 attempts, but DeGarmo — controversially named first team All-Ivy over Penn’s Britt Brown despite the latter leading the nation in save percentage — was always there to answer. The Tigers’ senior saved six of Penn’s first seven shots on goal, allowing the Tigers (13-3, 6-1) to jump out to a four-goal lead before the period was even halfway over.
Slowly starting to chip at the deficit with the help of a a first-half buzzer-beater from junior Natalie Stefan at the free position, the Quakers managed to cut the lead to two goals at the half. With momentum gradually building, the situation looked an awful lot like last season’s Ivy semifinal, when the Red and Blue came back from a two-goal second-half deficit to stun Harvard in overtime at home.
But the second frame showed that Princeton and Harvard were completely different animals — and after DeGarmo started the day off so well for her team, another legendary classmate made sure to put the Quakers to bed.
Though Penn trailed by as little as 7-5 after Alex Condon’s only goal of the day, No. 6 Princeton turned the jets on from there, and newly anointed Ivy League Attacker of the Year Olivia Hompe spearheaded the charge.
Over a period of not even eight minutes, the Tigers went on a 7-0 run with their superstar offensive senior absolutely everywhere on the field, finishing the day with three goals and six assists. Even with Brown finishing with 14 saves — also a single-game record in the seven-year history of the Ivy tournament — Princeton’s offensive attack had her under siege from start to finish.
On the other side of the ball, Princeton’s aggressive man defense forced nine second-half turnovers and limited Condon to a single goal after she scored eight in the teams’ regular season matchup, giving the Red and Blue no shot at pulling off the epic comeback.
With the win, Princeton advances to face tournament host and national No. 11 Cornell (12-4, 6-1) in the tournament championship. For Penn, though, it’s a waiting game from here.
Even with the disappointment from Friday’s finish, the Quakers are at no risk of falling out of the NCAA Tournament. But having entered the Ivy tournament ranked seventh nationally in the coaches’ poll, the Red and Blue likely will fall out of a position to host a first-round game, with the top eight teams in the nation all receiving the privilege to do so.
Hosting or not, though, the Quakers will still have an opportunity to do some damage, perhaps even more so with the fire that may come from Friday’s result. Though the team fell short of taking its first conference tournament title since 2014, another championship remains out there for the taking — and come Sunday night, the Red and Blue will know what the path there looks like.