On alumni weekend, a giant inflatable castle was set up in a corner of Franklin Field for kids to play in and enjoy.
But Penn men’s lacrosse, who were also playing on Franklin Field, seemed to enjoy itself even more. The Quakers used a strong second-half showing to see off Princeton by a score of 19-10 to win their first Ivy League game of the season.
Much of the first period was characterized by loose balls, turnovers, and missed shots. The Red and Blue (3-3, 1-0 Ivy) would finally get on the board with 5:28 to go in the first period when senior attackman Simon Mathias converted on a man-up possession after Princeton (2-4, 0-1) was called for an illegal body check.
Penn picked up from there, and a last-second goal towards the end of the first quarter by sophomore midfielder Mitch Bartolo increased the team's lead to 4-2.
The scrappiness continued in the second period, with both teams’ offenses failing to click into gear. With Penn holding a 6-3 lead midway through the period, it would then cough up five consecutive turnovers, which gave the Tigers some momentum to pull within one goal at the half.
Whatever Penn coach Mike Murphy told his team during halftime, it certainly worked. But not so until Princeton scored twice in the first two minutes of the third quarter to go up by a goal. It took Penn a mere eight seconds after that to tie the game at seven apiece, as sophomore attackman Sean Lulley darted all the way into the Princeton area and got the ball past the goalkeeper.
From then on, with 13:28 to go in the third period, the Quakers would embark on a whirlwind 11-1 run that went all the way until the clock read 6:02 in the final period.
During that pivotal run, the Red and Blue were committed on the tackle and sharp with their passes, leaving Princeton with barely any room to breathe. Eight different players scored for Penn, led by junior attackman Adam Goldner. Finishing with five goals on the night to take his season tally to 21 in six games, Goldner credited his teammates for helping to elevate his game this season.
“Honestly, I think it’s the people I’m around,” he said. “You have guys like Simon Mathias, Sam Handley, Mitch Bartolo, Tyler Dunn … those guys have done a great job. If I get a shot, I try and put it in the back of the net, but it's really on those guys to initiate [those chances].”
And just as the sun was climbing down the horizon, the game itself was also done and dusted. The crowd erupted into loud cheers when backup junior goalkeeper Alex Demarco replaced his senior counterpart Reed Junkin, who had a whopping 18 saves on the afternoon, for the last 2:51 of the game.
“The first half was a little out of character,” Murphy said. “At halftime, we talked about trying to play a little faster, which [we did] in the second half. We were also getting [quicker] transition from the defensive end. [Freshman defenseman] BJ Farrare was excellent. We also got some transition points at the faceoff X.”
It was a solid start to Ivy League play for the Quakers, who are certainly looking to build on their third-place finish in the League last season.
“I think every game matters now that we’re moving onto Ivy play,” Goldner said. “Having our first Ivy League game as a win is definitely added momentum, but we have to get back on the field on Monday to improve as a team.”
The Red and Blue will look to carry this positive momentum when they continue Ancient Eight play next weekend on the road against Cornell.