Penn men’s lacrosse entered this season with high hopes and big expectations, and on Saturday, the Quakers were able to show that they can be a serious contender this season.
After a tough season-opening loss to Maryland, No. 8 Penn made the trip to Charlotte, N.C. to face No. 10 Duke, defeating them by a score of 14-11. In what was a close contest, the Red and Blue (1-1) managed to edge the Blue Devils (2-2) with strong performances at the game’s start and finish.
The Quakers’ performance was fueled by junior attacker Sean Lulley’s six goals. Both junior Ben Bedard and senior Adam Goldner also added a pair of goals in the contest. These individual performances allowed for Penn to record their first victory of the season.
After allowing Maryland to overcome their six-goal lead in the season’s opening game, the Quakers looked to Duke as a chance to bounce back and regain momentum. The team was able to do exactly that by keeping the Blue Devils in the rearview mirror for most of Saturday’s contest.
The Red and Blue jumped out to an early lead when Lulley scored the game’s first goal after only 45 seconds. The junior was not done there, however, as he added the game’s second goal only a few minutes later to give the Quakers a quick 2-0 lead. After Bedard’s first goal of the game, Penn quickly found itself in the driver’s seat with a 3-0 lead.
A pair of Duke goals shrank the Red and Blue’s lead down to one as the second period got underway. Following a first period largely controlled by the Penn offensive attack, the second was a back-and-forth affair. After a Duke goal to start, the Quakers quickly recorded a trio of goals. However, the Penn lead did not last long, as the Blue Devils quickly logged three goals of their own, entering halftime down 6-5.
The Quakers came into Saturday’s contest missing sophomore midfielder Sam Handley, who is reported to have suffered a spleen injury during the team’s opener against Maryland. The game allowed the team to see what their offense would look like without one of their important pieces. On Saturday, it was Bedard and his pair of goals that helped the Quakers overcome Handley’s absence.
The third period saw both teams trade goals back and forth to bring the score to 10-9 in Penn’s favor entering the fourth period. In the fourth, it was Duke that jumped out to a fast start. With a pair of quick goals to begin the period, the Blue Devils took their first lead of the game. Down for the first time, it became clear that Penn’s response would determine the game’s outcome.
Thankfully for the Quakers, they were able to score four straight goals at the game’s end to escape with a narrow road victory over the Blue Devils. Paired with Penn’s hot start at the game’s beginning, this strong finish is what helped the Red and Blue come out on top in the tight contest.
The Red and Blue will look to build on this victory when they face Penn State in their first home game of the season next Saturday.