On a rainy, cold, mid-week contest at Penn Park, Penn men's lacrosse gutted out a gritty 13-12 victory in overtime against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks (11-3), courtesy of junior midfielder James Shipley's game-winning bounce shot that found the back of the net. This marked the Red and Blue's sixth one-goal game this season, and they have gone 4-2 in those matchups.
The Quakers (7-4, 3-3) won the first face-off of the game, but a turnover by Saint Joesph’s allowed the Hawks to go on the attack. Senior goalkeeper Patrick Burkinshaw made a clean low save to bring the ball back on attack, where fellow senior Sam Handley converted on the other end to hand Penn an early lead.
“I think this is the best St. Joe's team we've seen and in my time at Penn,“ head coach Mike Murphy said. “Coming out playing this Tuesday, it kind of took us a while to get going.“
Unfortunately for the Quakers, that first goal would be the only one for the Red and Blue over the next 15 minutes, in which the Hawks made a 4-1 run. The Hawks capitalized on stellar goalkeeping by junior Rob Seeley, who had 13 saves on the night, and they extended their lead throughout the game, taking a 6-4 advantage at the half, and a 9-5 lead into the final quarter.
“We made some little silly mistakes, but also a lot of it was positions that St. Joe's put us in, like some subbing things that they did, and some of the things they did on defense that kind of clogged us up.“ Murphy said. “But I think we stayed the course and maintained our composure and started playing good lacrosse in the fourth quarter.”
Penn managed seven goals in the final frame after racking up only five over the course of the first three. The Red and Blue relied on hat tricks from freshman attacker Ben Smith (a career high in goals) and junior midfielder Gabe Furey to catapult them back into the game. Then, the crucial score by freshman attacker Tynan Walsh finally forced overtime.
“Ben [Smith] was awesome,” Shipley said. “Tynan [Walsh] was awesome. Gabe Furey was incredible. … That's always a good feeling when guys who you know are talented enough, you see them show in-game. It’s a pretty cool feeling to see that pay off for those guys, and obviously it paid off for us as well.”
Then in overtime — with just 41 seconds remaining — senior attacker Dylan Gergar found Shipley on the left alley, who fired home a bounce shot for yet another clutch goal this season, giving the Quakers the victory.
“I always look to Ship whenever it's overtime because he's got that clutch gene or something,” junior midfielder Gabe Furey said. “[Shipley] just makes it happen. He's just made for the big moments, and we love to have him because he keeps on delivering. There wasn't really a set play. We just played some backyard ball and he got it done.”
The win brought Penn, currently on a three-game winning streak, to an overall record of 7-4 and 3-3 in conference play. The Red and Blue are currently seventh in the conference, but the six teams ahead of them are all 3-2 in conference play, and many of them play each other on Saturday. Penn's overall record, however, is holding it back, as the team is at least a game behind every Ivy League squad with the exception of Dartmouth in terms of overall record. Still, with the win, the Quakers kept their NCAA playoff tournament hopes alive for an at-large bid if they are unable to win the Ivy League tournament for the automatic bid.
For the Red and Blue, they have one more game on the regular season schedule against the Albany Great Danes (5-8) this Saturday in Albany, N.Y., where they hope to end the regular season on a high note.