The Quakers are Ivy League Tournament champions.
Two of the best teams in the nation went to battle in New York City, and Penn men's lacrosse came out on top in a nail-biting 12-11 victory over Yale. Five Quakers were selected to the All-Tournament team including senior attackman Simon Mathias, junior face-off specialist Kyle Gallagher, junior attackman Adam Goldner, freshman defenseman BJ Farrare, and senior goalie Reed Junkin. Junkin was also awarded the Most Outstanding Player after tallying 32 saves over the two games.
The teams went back and forth all game, trading goals throughout the contest. After the Quakers (11-3, 8-0 Ivy) jumped ahead, 4-1, in the first period, Yale (12-3, 6-2) opened the second period with three goals in just under two minutes. It seemed like the momentum had switched over to the Elis, until Penn responded with three goals of their own. A goal by Mathias with six seconds left in the half put the Quakers up, 8-6, heading into the locker room.
The second half would be aggressive on both sides with the teams following each other's goals with scores of their own. With 8:48 left in the game, the Bulldogs tied the game at 11, but the Red and Blue's defense took over, and they held Yale scoreless for the rest of the game. Ultimately, it would come down to a goal from sophomore attackman Sean Lulley with 4:52 left in the final period to seal the win.
The Quakers’ defense was a big part of their win, especially in the fourth period. Sunday's game marked the first time in 44 games that Yale did not have a lead in a game. The senior Junkin totaled 16 saves from 27 shots on goal.
"The coaches were trusting me, and I was also trusting the defenders to play well," Junkin said. "Our defense did a great job of transitioning between zone [defense] and man-to-man, so credit to them."
On the offensive side, the Quakers were led by three goals each from Lulley and Goldner. Mathias continued his dominance from Friday with two goals and two assists against the Elis.
"Our mentality was just to share the ball, play some selfless lacrosse; we've been doing that all year," Mathias said. "We're just sharing the ball and no one really cares who's scoring."
Against the nation's best face-off specialist, Yale's TD Ierlan, Penn junior Kyle Gallagher won 15-of-26 from the X. These valuable possessions helped the Red and Blue keep the ball out of the Bulldogs' hands as much as possible.
"That was obviously a big part of this game. Anytime you've got a one-goal game, everything matters, the possession totals matter," coach Mike Murphy said.
After an 0-3 start to the year, the Quakers dominated the rest of the season and have seen all their work and consistency pay off.
"Our ability to try to get better every single day, and every single week has put us in a position to win a bunch of games in a row and win a couple of championships," Mathias said. "I'm incredibly proud as a senior, and as a captain. These guys make my job easy because they're willing to come and show up every day and work so hard."
"This is a very big game for our team, our program, and our alumni that have laid the groundwork for this," Murphy said. "We have three goals: to win the Ivy Championship, to go to the Final Four, and to win the national championship."
The win on Sunday guaranteed the team an already likely trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Quakers are the No.4 seed in the Tournament and will take on Army in the first round at Franklin Field, this Saturday at 5 p.m.