While Penn women's lacrosse rallied back from a 3-0 deficit against Loyola in the first quarter, their efforts were not enough to claw back from the deficit and the Quakers came away with the defeat, 12-10.
Penn went into the game on Wednesday night 1-1 after suffering a tough 10-8 loss against No. 24 Johns Hopkins this past weekend. Loyola arrived in Philadelphia undefeated, having won its first two games. The team is slated to be the hardest one Penn faces all season, as the Greyhounds are ranked ninth in the country.
This game was shaping up to be a tough one for Penn, a sentiment head coach Karin Corbett realized.
“I wouldn’t say we were nervous, but I don’t think we played well on Saturday, and it was more of ‘were they going to answer our tough talk after the game?’” Corbett said. “We weren’t as tough as Hopkins, and to me, that’s a big testament to our team and how far we can go, and so we challenged them on that.”
The first quarter was rough for the Quakers. Loyola started off aggressive, scoring three goals in the first few minutes to Penn’s lone free position shot made by junior Kennon Moon. Penn's defense struggled to adapt, and the quarter ended with Loyola in the lead, 3-1. This slow start ultimately weighed on the loss, but coach Corbett came away with ideas on areas the team needed to focus on.
“I think it's the little things,” Corbett said. “I think our offense needs to shoot better, and I kept saying every timeout, 'shoot low and deep,' but we kept shooting stick side high. I think our transitions [need to be improved]; letting the ball do the work and being more physical so they’re ready for a lot more checks.”
In the second quarter, the Quakers took the field with improved poise. Their defense toughened up and their offense was on point, with Moon scoring a goal barely two minutes into the quarter. The Red and Blue forced shot clock violations for Loyola, making up for their weak defensive plays in the first quarter.
Senior Taylyn Stadler was warned with a yellow card for a dangerous shot, indicative of Penn's heightened urgency. Penn then made up for it with an even stronger offense, as freshman Keeley Block made it a tie game with 3:09 left in the quarter.
Loyola continued to press high as they managed to steal and score from a free-position play. This was followed by a score from Loyola’s Sydni Black and a goal from sophomore Alyson Feeley 20 seconds later to tie up the game — ending the first half (4-4).
Watching the third quarter was like watching a tennis match: the scores on each side kept alternating and getting higher. The first three unanswered goals came from Loyola’s side. Penn answered back with one goal from junior Chloe Hunter, bringing the score to 7-5. Loyola scored two more, with the help of Emily Wills and Rosenzweig, and Penn ended the quarter with another goal from Feeley, bringing the final score to 9-6.
Penn’s defense was strong in this quarter as well, as there were many doubles and slides. There were a few yellow cards to Penn, highlighting the tough physicality of the game.
A quick goalie change to junior Kelly Van Hoesen highlighted some shifts in strategy during the evening. Coach Corbett implemented it to give each goalie a chance at playing time, but also to test each keepers' performance under pressure.
“Kowalski was having some nice saves, but there were two pretty important turnovers that happened,” Corbett said. “She knows better, to clear the side. There comes a time where one [turnover], let’s learn from that, but two [is too much]. Kelly’s a great goalie and we had thought about subbing, that was the game plan going in, but Kowalski was playing really well, so let’s keep it.”
The fourth quarter was a nail-biter. 51 seconds in, Stadler scored, shortening Loyola’s lead to a two-point difference. Rosenzweig and Black were back at it again, showing MVP behavior as they each scored a goal, bringing the lead up to a four-point difference.
With a sudden burst of energy, the Quakers battered Loyola with three consecutive goals. Miles came through with an unassisted goal, and the clear MVP of the day for Penn, Feeley, scored her third and fourth goal of the game to trail by one point. It was closing down to the final minute, until Elli Kluegel scored the last goal of the night — sealing Loyola’s win with 40 seconds left on the clock.
“I was so pleased with how they answered today,” Corbett said. “They fought, they were tougher, they were winning ground balls. They fought when they got down 3-0. It was just a constant battle, but I was really pleased with them.”
Going into their next game against Harvard, Penn will be sure to focus on its mistakes — including the numerous turnovers and fouls — and hopefully improve their record to remain competitive in the Ivy League standings.