It was all Penn all night.
The Quakers didn’t miss a beat in their 19-9 victory over Rutgers on Wednesday night at Franklin Field. What was a close game in the first couple of minutes quickly turned into an absolute rout. The Red and Blue (3-0) led 3-2 less than nine minutes into the contest, when they embarked on a huge run that pushed them out to a 9-2 lead just halfway through the first half of action.
The team finished a red-hot first half with a pair of goals from sophomore midfielder Gabby Rosenzweig and senior attacker Caroline Cummings. The duo combined for 11 goals in the first 30 minutes, helping Penn get out to a 13-6 lead by halftime.
The Quakers knew that even a seven-goal lead could not be considered safe. They kept their foot on the gas pedal and ultimately cruised to victory, never letting the Scarlet Knights back into the game.
“I don’t feel at halftime we walked in with a huge lead; it was a lead,” coach Karin Corbett said. “But we still needed to be a little more patient on attack and keep moving the ball and still play good defense.”
The second half featured a Penn team that was definitely still in attack mode. Hard cuts to the net and crisp passing was the theme of the night, as the Red and Blue racked up 15 assists. Simply put, Rutgers just couldn’t match the energy and aggressiveness that Penn brought to the field, as the Scarlet Knights were on their heels the whole game.
Along with Cummings (six goals) and Rosenzweig (five goals, two assists), the Quakers received record-setting performances from a couple of players. Freshman phenom Zoe Belodeau notched six points (two goal, four assists) and also dominated on the face-off, setting a school record with 11 draw controls. Another school record was broken on Wednesday by senior Emily Rogers-Healion, as she finished with a grand total of seven assists.
“We definitely prepared for a low-pressure zone, which is what [Rutgers] came out with today,” Rogers-Healion said. “So we just knew exactly what to expect, and our cuts were there all over the field. There wouldn’t be openings if not everyone was doing their job, so it was a real team effort.”
While Penn put on a clinic on offense, it wasn’t all about that side of the ball. Most notably, the Quakers saw great production from their goalkeepers. As in the first two games of the season, Corbett played junior Maggie Smith in goal in the first half and subbed in sophomore Mikaila Cheeseman for the final 30 minutes.
Smith played well, totalling four saves, but Cheeseman had an even better showing. The sophomore was a brick wall in front of the net, knocking away shot after shot. In all, she compiled seven saves in ten opportunities.
“I was really pleased with [Cheeseman],” Corbett said. “She attacked the ball, and that’s what we’ve been working on this week, and I think she had some huge saves. That’s what we’ve been asking of her, and we know that she had the ability to do it. So we hope we can continue to move that trajectory forward and keep her consistent, because that was the best I’ve seen her play.”
Up next for the Red and Blue is a meeting with Cornell in Ithaca on Saturday. The Quakers know that a performance similar to that of tonight will be necessary if they want to knock off the Big Red.
“We need to come out completely focused,” Cummings said. “We have to take the game plan to the next level and really stick to what we know and the fundamentals and come out very strong.”
Penn’s goal this season is to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. And while it’s still early, tonight’s dominant showing by the Quakers is a good start in getting to that goal.
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