NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Revenge will have to come another day for Penn men’s lacrosse.
10 months after Yale ended the Quakers’ season in a four-overtime Ivy League semifinal match for the ages, the Red and Blue couldn’t get their payback in the teams’ first matchup since. Victimized by a 5-0 run spanning the first and second quarters, the Quakers could never claw back in a 12-6 loss in New Haven.
No. 20 Penn (5-5, 1-2 Ivy) came out hot as it attempted to pull off its second top-five upset of the year, taking a 2-1 lead on goals by junior Simon Mathias and sophomore Adam Goldner — with Mathias’ goal extending his program-record point-scoring streak to 38 games.
“We didn’t talk about this game as being any different from Princeton or Cornell; Yale is the best team in the league, so I think there’s that level of respect and preparation,” coach Mike Murphy said. “It’s no different than any other Ivy week; there’s six Ivy games, and this is one of them, so I don’t think there’s as much to [a revenge match] as what people think on the outside.”
But soon after that, the No. 4 Bulldogs (7-1, 3-0) proved that they’re the three-time defending conference champions for a reason.
Yale scored five straight goals over the span of 18 minutes between the first and second quarters to open up some breathing room. A big reason for that was the Bulldogs' domination at the faceoff X, where they won 16 of 22 attempts.
“It was a tough day for a couple of guys to have off days on offense. For whatever reason, don’t know if it’s just this point in the season, or if we’re overly excited — we’ll figure it out and not do it again,” Murphy said. “It’s a combination of us and them. A lot of credit to Yale, they were well-prepared and had a good game plan, and their goalie played real well.”
It was a cat-and-mouse game from there, but the underdog Quakers could never catch their juggernaut rivals. The score got as close at 7-4 early in the third quarter on Goldner’s third goal of the day, but a physical man defense from Yale led by senior Tyler Warner made sure Penn would struggle to get much else on the board the rest of the way.
On the other side of the ball, senior and two-time Teewarton Award finalist Ben Reeves was as skilled as ever for the Elis, seemingly a step ahead of the Red and Blue at every opportunity.
Though Penn sophomore defender Mark Evanchick did a solid job limiting Reeves’ own scoring to two goals, the senior’s passing vision rendered Evanchick’s efforts largely obsolete, as Reeves finished with four assists to help Yale gradually pull away.
“It all starts at the faceoff, where we did a good job early in the first half, but then Mack got into a rhythm and that helped them out on offense,” Murphy said. “I don’t know what the time of possession was, but we kind of just wore down on the defensive end.”
Now below .500 in Ivy play, Penn's chances of its first regular season championship in 30 years are near non-existent, but the Quakers still find themselves in position to contend for an Ivy tournament berth.
If the Red and Blue want to be able to do more than just make it there, though, it’ll take a lot more than what they saw on Saturday.
“All year, we’ve talked about consistency, and now we have to do it. We’ve shown what we can do,” Murphy said. “Nothing against Yale; they played really well and they’re clearly better than us right now."
"But we didn’t play nearly as well as we’ve played, and that consistency has escaped us this year, so we have to try to find a solution to that.”
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