This just might have been the most exciting blowout in Penn women’s lacrosse history.
In an offensive shootout that included a total of 37 goals, the Quakers led the whole way, yet with a lead that never quite felt safe until the very end. But led by five different players each securing at least five points, the Red and Blue held on in a 24-13 victory, maintaining heir undefeated record in the Ivy League and setting the school record for goals in a conference game in the process.
“It was my first time being in a game like that; being in it, I wouldn’t say I had that much fun, because I don’t like giving up 13 goals, and that’s frustrating,” Penn coach Karin Corbett said. “But again, for us as a program to have never scored 24 goals [in conference], it was great. We had a number of different goal scorers today, which is just indicative of the strength of our attack.”
With Harvard (5-9, 1-5 Ivy) entering the contest ranked first in the Ivy League in scoring average but worst in the conference in scoring defense, most in attendance would’ve expected some offensive fireworks. But the first half on Saturday afternoon took that to an entirely new level.
Sophomore Erin Barry scored from the free position only 36 seconds into the game on Penn’s first possession, and the fun was just getting started.
No. 9 Penn (11-2, 5-0) opened the game on a 5-1 run that took only 4 minutes and 56 seconds. Then Harvard had already tied the game at 5 apiece in the game’s first 11 minutes. Then the Quakers went on an 8-0 run over a mere 6:30, breaking the game open.
All in all, 19 total goals were scored in the game’s first 19 minutes and 21 seconds. By the end of the first half, the Quakers led 14-8, and the team had already seen goals scored by eight different players and assists dished out by seven of them.
By the end of the day, Penn was one goal short of its record for scoring in any game, which came against Franklin and Marshall way back in 1977.
“We were just seeing each other very well, moving the ball very fast,” said senior Caroline Cummings, who finished with four goals and two assists. “That’s what we focus on every week, and I think we were very sharp.”
The second half saw more of the same on offense for the Quakers, but on the other side of the ball, a powerful Harvard squad made its own impact on the game.
Averaging a nation-leading 4.54 goals per game entering the weekend, Crimson senior Julia Glynn was at her best trying to keep her squad in the game, finishing with a game-high six goals and battling with Penn junior defender Katy Junior throughout the contest.
And Glynn’s impact could’ve been even greater if not for an interesting wrinkle in goal for the Red and Blue. Sophomore goalie Mikaila Cheeseman, who had earned the starting job early in the season, saved only two out of 13 shots on goal, and was replaced by junior Maggie Smith for the majority of the second half.
Smith proceeded to finish with six saves and only two goals allowed, making several point-blank stops to keep Penn’s lead afloat.
Corbett declined to comment on whether the competition for the starting job was back open.
But independent of what happened during Harvard’s possessions, there was too much firepower from Penn for the Crimson to keep up — and fittingly, on Senior Day, much of that firepower came from the Quakers’ graduating class.
Emily Rogers-Healion (five goals, four assists), Cummings, and Alex Condon (three goals, two assists) combined for 20 points on the afternoon, going out in style in what very well could be their last game on Penn’s campus depending on the NCAA Tournament’s eventual seeding.
“It was amazing. Especially knowing that this could be our last game in the Frank, which is a tear-drop,” Cumming said. “We couldn’t have gone out better.”
After setting records on Saturday, Penn’s next challenge will be one of its biggest of the year. The first-place Quakers head to No. 18 Princeton (8-5, 4-1) on Wednesday afternoon, with a win clinching at least a share of the team’s third straight conference title.
“We want this title, and it always goes through Princeton,” Corbett said.
“It’ll be a tough game as always, but it’s in our hands now.”