Heartbreaking. That's one word to describe Penn’s overtime loss this weekend.
Penn men’s lacrosse welcomed No. 3 Maryland to Franklin Field to open its season on Saturday. Despite a close and competitive effort from the home side, Maryland remained undefeated and topped the Red and Blue in overtime, 13-12.
Before everyone could get settled into their seats, the Quakers (0-1) got on the board through a goal from senior midfielder Tyler Dunn just 36 seconds into the game. The team ended the opening period leading the Terrapins (3-0) by a 4-2 score, and it seemed like the Quakers were in the driver’s seat. However, Penn’s strong offensive start would not continue, as the second period was a very different story.
Penn was held scoreless for a period of over 18 minutes, dating back to the 3:31 mark in the first period. The team's only goal in the second period was courtesy of a thrilling last-second shot by senior attackman Simon Mathias, which cut Penn’s deficit to 7-5 and was an uplifting way to end the half.
“It was a great juice play to take us into the half, and I think we did a great job of building on it to carry that momentum into the second half,” junior attacker Adam Goldner said. “We looked to the guy to the left and to the right and we tried to make the best out of it and put ourselves on the line for our brothers.”
In the second half, the Red and Blue's momentum carried them to a 12-11 lead in the middle of the fourth period. At this point of the game, the crowd at the Frank was roaring and it felt as if the Quakers would notch their first-ever win against the Terps. However, Maryland had different plans as it was able to even up the game at 12 and force overtime.
As both teams prepared for the extra period, Penn felt confident in its chances to win the faceoff and take over on offense. Until that point, junior faceoff specialist Kyle Gallagher had won 21 of 26 faceoffs.
“The fact that we were winning faceoffs allowed us to make a comeback … because if someone scored we knew we had a good chance of getting the ball back,” coach Mike Murphy said. “In the ten years I’ve been here, that might have been the best faceoff performance we’ve had.”
However, Gallagher was unable to win the first overtime faceoff, and 18 seconds later, the Terrapins scored the sudden-death goal they needed to come away with the victory.
“Bittersweet. We played really well and showed that we belong, but we let it get away,” Murphy said. “In the end, we couldn’t pick the ball up off that faceoff and get control of it, and they were off to the races.”
Even though it was a loss, the Quakers played aggressively and came back against one of the best teams in the country, so they will look to use this game as a learning experience.
“I think we learned a lot about ourselves this game, and I think that we can definitely take this kind of momentum,” Goldner said.
Starting the season against the No. 3 team in the nation was no easy task, but Penn was ready and gave Maryland a run for its money. The Red and Blue will need that momentum as they travel to Durham, N.C. next week to take on another tough opponent in No. 10 Duke.
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