The road to an Ivy League four-peat won’t be easy any means. But Penn women’s lacrosse just knocked out the first step without breaking much of a sweat.
In a game that was both their home and conference opener, the No. 12 Quakers struggled to break things open early, but an 8-0 run over an eight-minute stretch in the first half turned a tight game into a blowout. Penn got goals from nine different players and five assists from junior attacker Gabby Rosenzweig, earning a 15-4 win over Yale to keep its record perfect on the year.
“We had a lot of energy in the locker room today,” junior goalie Mikaila Cheeseman said. “We want to win an Ivy championship outright, and today was the first step to that, so we’re pumped.”
Led by four underclassmen all averaging more than two goals per game entering Saturday afternoon, Yale (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) was ninth nationally with a scoring average of 16.33 goals, but it was quickly clear that the matchup between the conference’s highest-ranked offense versus its highest-ranked defense would go the latter’s way.
Though Penn (4-0, 1-0) only led 2-0 14 minutes into the contest, the floodgates opened immediately after that. On the offensive side of the ball, the Quakers’ ball movement was as pristine as ever, with eight Penn players registering at least one goal in the opening period.
“I think people were really spreading the field well and pushing the ball well. Everyone wanted to score,” Rosenzweig said. “In that span we were really pushing it, attacking the cage hard, and that’s what got us those goals.”
And on the other end, active hands from the Red and Blue forced nine first-half turnovers, while Cheeseman stopped most of the rare opportunities that the Bulldogs did get. The vaunted Elis’ offense didn’t get on the scoreboard until fewer than five minutes remained in the half.
"We watched some of their film and knew a lot of their tendencies, and our scout offense did a really good job preparing us today,” Cheeseman said. “But I think our energy really translated into wanting the ball, and when we wanted the ball, we came out strong and set the tone from the beginning.”
Cheesman finished with eight saves to three goals allowed, and ranks second nationally in save percentage.
The second half was far sloppier for the Quakers, but their lead still never shrank below eight the rest of the way. Specific highlights included the first two career goals from freshman attacker Robin Panzarella, and three saves on four shots on goal from freshman goalie Krissy Kowalski, who is also a Daily Pennsylvanian staffer.
“We didn’t shoot well [in the second half], we weren’t generating a lot on offense, and we became a bit more undisciplined on defense. But we are a young team in a lot of ways,” coach Karin Corbett said. “I want to keep growing. I’m glad that we started off real strong, and now we gotta try to put the two halves together.”
With the win, Penn improves to 4-0 for the second straight season, with three of the four wins being by double digits. Having only two seniors in their entire starting lineup, the Quakers seem to be wasting no time gelling, which means that Corbett’s underclass-heavy squad could be merely scratching the surface of its potential.
“A lot of people are always like, ‘Penn is so young.’ And we definitely are,” said Rosenzweig, who has a team-high 25 points through four games. “But at the end of the day, it’s not about how young you are; it’s about the talent you have.”