Another game, another one-goal win for the Quakers.
No. 9 Penn women’s lacrosse traveled to Providence, R.I. and got quite the fight from a Brown team that hasn’t beaten the Red and Blue (9-2, 3-0 Ivy) in any of the last 16 meetings between the two squads.
The 9-8 victory marks the fifth time this season that Penn won by the slimmest of margins.
Leading the charge for the Quakers was the brilliance of attacker Gabby Rosenzweig on the offensive end, as the junior paced all scorers with six points on three goals and three assists. Throughout the game, Rosenzweig looked to be in command, controlling the pace of play while operating predominantly from behind the net.
With the score tied at eight, with less than two minutes on the clock, and with the shot clock winding down, Rosenzweig saved her best play for last, curling to the left side of the goal before quickly spinning back to her right hand for a low angle shot that beat Brown (6-6, 2-2) netminder Erin Tucker and proved to be the game-winner.
“We ran two plays that Brown defended really well, but what was important for us was, regardless of whether or not the plays worked, we had to all remain calm, and we did,” Rosenzweig said of the goal. “We were able to get it done. I saw that the shot clock was winding down, and I was just thinking that we were winning this game and that it was our game.”
However, even after that late score, the game’s final result remained in doubt, as Brown was able to generate multiple shots on cage in the final minute, only to be turned aside by junior goalie Mikaila Cheeseman.
Much like Rosenzweig, Cheeseman saved her best plays for the most crucial moments, saving not one, but two Brown free position opportunities as the seconds ticked away.
Despite the high degree of difficulty required of Cheeseman on those saves, her teammates were confident in her abilities to make the big play.
“Those last few saves were just so clutch, but we knew she was going to do it,” Rosenzweig said. “She’s been so amazing this entire season, so we didn’t doubt it for a second.”
Although the end result proved to be in Penn’s favors, the game’s start was rather inauspicious, as the Bears jumped out to a 3-0 lead and dominated possession early on.
However, Rosenzweig and the Penn offense provided an answer, conjuring up a quick four-goal run that put the Quakers on top.
The first of those four goals came as a result of a clinical passing sequence that culminated with a Rosenzweig feed to sophomore attacker Zoe Belodeau on the doorstep, but the fourth goal was perhaps the most impressive. Off of a clear by the Penn defense, Rosenzweig sprinted down the sideline with the ball before cutting toward the middle of the field and taking a virtually unsaveable shot that hit the crossbar before finding net.
From that point onward, the Penn's defense settled in nicely, allowing only one Brown goal over the course of the first half’s final 24 minutes, sending the teams to halftime knotted up at four goals apiece.
But in the second half, Brown only further proved its resilience, eventually retaking the lead and expanding it to a two-goal cushion before junior midfielder Erin Barry, Belodeau, and Rosenzweig scored in succession to close the door on the Bears’ upset bid.
Although the high stakes of a such a tight contest might rattle less experienced teams, the Quakers have been in this position before, and their collective mindset reflects that experience.
“At this point, we’re pretty calm in those situations,” Rosenzweig said. “My teammates and I are never really frazzled in close games anymore, which has obviously been really important. As a team, we play with a lot of grit and a lot of heart, and I think that shows at the end of tight games.”
Next weekend, when the Red and Blue take on Dartmouth at home, they’ll look to maintain their undefeated Ivy League record, even if doing so requires yet another one-goal game.
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