No. 10 Penn women’s lacrosse had a chance to clinch at least a share of its third straight Ivy League regular season title heading into a matchup against arch rival No. 18 Princeton.
However, a slow start and numerous penalties doomed the Quakers in a 21-8 road loss at the hands of the Tigers for Penn's first conference loss of the season.
In the first minute, the Quakers (11-3, 5-1 Ivy) looked true to form. Penn scored the first goal of the game off a free position shot from senior attackman Caroline Cummings, to go along with a nice save from sophomore goalie Mikaila Cheeseman the next possession.
After that, the wheels came off.
Princeton (9-5, 5-1) scored the next seven goals of the game, with five of those coming off free position shots.
“We didn’t get off the bus,” coach Karin Corbett said of the team’s offense. “We just didn’t come to attack them, we wasted our possessions, [and] we didn’t move the ball well.”
Corbett credited Princeton’s ability to get a lot of free position shots — eight-yard shots which occur after a foul from the defense, similar to free kicks in soccer — to its tenacious offense.
Coming into the game, Penn paced the conference and was second nationally with 9.23 assists per game. However, the Red and Blue's offense, one of the best in the Ivy League, was unable to find its rhythm. The team as a whole did not have any assists on the game. Additionally, freshman Tewaaraton Award contender Zoe Belodeau failed to record a point for the first time in her young career.
On the other end, Princeton overwhelmed Penn with a balanced scoring attack that saw seven players record points and five record at least four.
Still, throughout most the game, Penn was able to get within striking distance, even coming within three points of Princeton early in the second half off a goal from sophomore Gabby Rosenzweig. That made the score 10-7, and the Quakers' offense finally seemed to come alive.
Unfortunately for Penn, the Tigers responded like they did in the first half.
Shortly after Rosenzweig’s tally, with the score now 12-8 with roughly 12 minutes to go in the second half, Cummings placed a free position shot right stick side-high, an easy save for Princeton’s Sam Fish, who leads the Ivy League in save percentage. On the ensuing possession, the Tigers rocketed a goal past Cheeseman to bring the score to 13-8.
From there, Princeton scored the last eight goals of the game. Cheeseman was replaced by Smith in the second half for the second straight game.
21 goals conceded is by far the Red and Blue’s worst statistical defensive performance of the season. In fact, since at least 2004, as far back as the Pennathletics.com website goes, the Quakers have never given up more than 20 goals in a game.
“The first half gave them the confidence to keep attacking,” Corbett said reflecting on the second half onslaught.
Even with the disappointing loss, Penn still has a shot to earn a share of the regular season conference title as long as it takes care of business against a .500 Yale team on Saturday. Currently, Penn, Princeton, and Dartmouth are knotted atop league standings at 5-1.
Yale (7-7, 2-4) ranks dead last in the Ivy League in goals per game with 10.64. Still, Corbett knows Penn cannot afford to repeat its defensive performance from Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs' Sydney Marks leads the Ivy League in saves per game. With help from her offense, the Quakers could definitely fall victim to an upset-minded Yale team.
“We've got to play to win. Our attack has to actually attack, and we have to play like we want to win a championship,” Corbett said of the keys to defeating Yale.
Though it did not play like a championship team tonight, Penn still has a lot of lacrosse left to play this season. With a renewed focus, the Quakers will look to take out the frustration from an embarrassing loss on Yale in New Haven.
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