Maybe the warm spring weather is just what the Quakers needed.
On a balmy Saturday at Franklin Field, No. 13 Penn men’s lacrosse kept its five-game winning streak intact with a thrilling 13-12 triple-overtime win over Ivy League rival and defending national champion Yale.
After a nail-biting first two periods of overtime couldn't produce a winner, freshman attackman Sam Handley sent a laser into the back of the net a minute into the third bonus period to send the home bench and fans into a frenzy.
Six different goalscorers — each scoring at least a pair of goals — lifted the Red and Blue (5-3, 3-0 Ivy) to victory, their first over the No. 2 Elis (6-2, 2-1) since 2017.
Penn stuck with the Bulldogs for the entirety of regulation, a stark difference to the last matchup between these two programs. In that meeting in last year's Ivy League Tournament, Yale raced out to an early lead and never looked back, coasting to a 21-6 victory.
The Quakers would make sure history didn't repeat itself this time around, and would have an answer to every strike from Yale.
The first half was mostly back-and-forth play from both sides, with the game either tied or in the visitors' favor for all 30 minutes of play. A late goal from Yale freshman Matt Brandau was the only difference between the teams at halftime, with the Elis ahead 6-5 heading into the break.
Penn would come alive in the third quarter, however, much to the delight of the sizeable home crowd.
It took nearly six minutes for the first second-half goal, but then the floodgates opened. A pair of seniors, attackman Simon Mathias and midfielder Alex Roesner, struck less than a minute apart to notch the Quakers into their first lead of the day at 7-6. Three unanswered goals from the Red and Blue to close the third period saw them soar into the final period ahead 10-7.
In the fourth, the momentum began to shift. Penn freshman attackman Dylan Gergar picked up his hat-trick with 10:04 to play, putting the Quakers up 11-8 and in solid control of the contest.
But a furious comeback from the visitors, featuring four goals in seven minutes, saw them surge into a 12-11 lead with just 2:05 to play. Never a team to give up, and energized by their fans, the Red and Blue held on to the final possession as time ticked down.
Senior midfielder Tyler Dunn turned out to be the answer the home side needed, as with time expiring he turned and fired off an equalizer for the Quakers to send the contest into overtime.
"There was not a doubt in my mind that I was going to get a shot off, but I knew I had to hurry it up a little," Dunn said. "It's just the trust that my teammates have to give me the ball at the end, I really appreciate that. It was such a team effort right there."
In sudden-death overtime, any shot can mean the end of the game, so fans were on the edges of their seats until Handley saw the historic result through with his winner to set off a frenetic celebration.
"It felt like a shot I had already taken a thousand times over," Handley said. "I felt like everything just clicked and connected."
In goal, senior goalie Reed Junkin made a season-high 22 saves to keep the Quakers in the contest. A good number of his stops came down the stretch or in overtime, right when the team needed them most.
But junior face-off specialist Kyle Gallagher, although he didn't end up on the scoresheet, might just be the reason Penn came out on top.
Gallagher came into the game squaring off against Yale's face-off star, junior TD Ierlan. A transfer from Albany, Ierlan led the nation in face-off win percentage last year, but Gallagher wasn't fazed. The Penn junior won nine of his first 14 faceoffs and ultimately went 14 of 29 from the X, securing crucial possessions that undoubtedly helped the Quakers to victory.
"That was huge," coach Mike Murphy said. "If you're strong up the middle, you're in pretty good shape, so for us to have Reed Junkin in the cage and Kyle Gallagher facing off, that's a huge part of why we're sitting here 3-0 in the League instead of 2-1."
With this win in the books, the Quakers remain atop the Ivy League standings, alongside 2-0 Brown. There will only be one undefeated side remaining at the end of the week, however, as the Red and Blue will face the Bears in Providence, R.I. on Saturday.
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