So close, yet so very far. For Penn women’s lacrosse, this is the unfortunate sentiment following a thrilling comeback against visiting Northwestern. The Quakers scored the final five goals of regulation, only to walk away empty-handed in a 12-11 double-overtime loss.
Coming it at No. 6, the Quakers (8-2, 2-0 Ivy) were poised for a fierce clash with the visiting No. 11 Wildcats (9-3, 3-0 Big Ten), and the game did not disappoint. Fans were treated to a high scoring affair that got started from the first whistle, with the visitors finding the net first after only three minutes.
Less than two minutes later, Penn senior Emily Rogers-Healion evened things up with her first of the day. At 21:37 in the first half, Sophomore Gabby Rosenzweig knotted things up once more at 2-2 after Penn fell behind, with freshman Zoe Belodeau having assisted both Penn goals.
The next 15 minutes were all Northwestern, piling on six unanswered goals through five different players, with junior Selena Lasota grabbing two more on her five-goal day.
It looked like the Quakers might have capitulated before halftime, but, with five minutes remaining in the first period, they dug in.
Responding emphatically, Penn freshman Elyse Decker found the back of the net, and the momentum swung back in Penn’s favor. Following Decker’s lead, Erin Barry buried a good feed with 2:42 remaining, and defender Chelsea Kibler fired an inch-perfect laser from range as the period came to a close. Having cut the deficit to 8-5, Penn made clear it wasn’t going anywhere just yet.
Thanks to phenomenal goalkeeping by freshman Julie Krupnick, Northwestern staved off five strong Penn attacks and lit the scoreboard twice in the opening twelve minutes of the second period. While Belodeau was able to nab a goal of her own, the Wildcats answered in kind and boasted an 11-6 lead with only 14 minutes remaining in regulation.
That’s when Penn truly came alive.
Closing regulation out in style, sophomore goalkeeper Mikaila Cheeseman stood tall and kept everything out of her net on an 11-save day, while her offense started to chip away. Belodeau was at it again, followed by the stalwart senior Alex Condon, courtesy of Rogers-Healion, to make it a three-score game with eight-and-a-half minutes left to play.
Only a minute later, Rogers-Healion herself fooled the defense with a fake pass and did the rest herself to bring Penn within two.
With the pressure mounting, and clock still ticking, the Red and Blue continued to get dangerous looks on goal, seeming destined to push for OT. Upon Condon finding a cutting Rosenzweig, Penn somehow found itself only down one with almost five left on the clock.
With nail-biting in full effect, both sides called timeouts and employed the opposing tactics off all-out-attack against parking-the-bus. In a moment of desperation, the Wildcats committed a foul with 16 seconds left to play, setting Barry up for a free position shot. With the game on the line, she deftly applied the finish, sending the game into overtime and her team into pandemonium.
In the first additional three minutes, neither team could find the back of the net, though not for lack of trying. Both goalkeepers were at their very best, forcing a second overtime to settle this exhilarating contest.
Perhaps the fatigue finally won out over the adrenaline, and Penn didn’t get a sniff of the ball from the drop. Putting a cherry on her breakout performance, Lasota powered her way through the Quaker defense to complete the upset win for the visitors at 12-11.
While there is undoubtedly some disappointment in the air, Penn will look to reflect and rebound as it now enters the unforgiving stretch of five consecutive conference matches. Despite losing on the day, the unbelievable comeback should remind opponents to never count the Quakers out.