It’s been three years since the Ivy League Tournament has been played, and seemingly not much has changed since then.
On Sunday, Penn men’s lacrosse won the Ivy League Championship in Providence, R.I., beating Yale 16-9, same as it did in 2019 when it marched past Yale for the Ivy League title, 12-11.
After a tight first half, Penn (10-4, 4-3 Ivy) pulled away in the third quarter with a seven-goal outburst highlighted by a hat trick in those 15 minutes alone from senior attacker Dylan Gergar. Defensively, the Quakers held staunch on the back of 16 saves from star senior goalkeeper Patrick Burkinshaw. Including Penn’s semifinal game against Brown on Friday, which it won 14-9, Burkinshaw accumulated 36 total saves, which set the record for most saves by a goalie in an Ivy League Tournament.
Coming into the matchup, the chances of Penn — which also entered the Ivy League Tournament as the No. 4 seed out of four teams — emerging victorious were very much up in the air. Just over a month prior, the Red and Blue fell to Yale 12-11 on the Bulldogs’ home pitch. In that matchup, Penn lost the turnover battle 21-14 and didn’t spread the wealth offensively enough, with only three players scoring two or more goals.
Sunday’s matchup turned out much better for the Quakers, as Penn stayed close in the turnover comparison and reached an offensive flow it wasn’t able to in April. Twice as many Quakers reached the multi-goal mark, led by four scores from Gergar, three from senior midfielder Sam Handley, and two from freshman attacker Ben Smith, graduate student midfielder Ben Bedard, junior midfielder Gabe Furey, and senior attacker Jack Schultz.
Across both Ivy Tournament games, Gergar scored a whopping nine goals, while Handley, who was a major piece of the Penn rotation in the Ivy Tournament as a freshman, finished with 12 total points, notching a hat trick in each game, in addition to six total assists.
Penn’s second straight Ivy League Championship win comes after the Quakers managed to bounce back from a slightly rocky start to put it all together as the season came along. Less than a month ago, the Red and Blue sat at 4-4 overall — and 1-3 in the Ivy League. From there, Penn rattled off four straight wins — half of which to conference foes — to narrowly reach the Ivy League Tournament.
Now, the Quakers have a chance to begin the NCAA Championship in strong seeding, which they’ll need if they want to have a shot at winning the whole thing. The Red and Blue have never won an NCAA Championship, and with an Ivy League Championship under their belt, they’ll have a solid chance to make history this month.
The last time Penn beat Brown and Yale for the Ivy Tournament and went to the NCAA Championship, though, Yale avenged its loss in the quarterfinals, so whether or not history will fully repeat itself yet again remains to be seen.
Penn’s NCAA Championship seeding will be determined tonight at 9 p.m. during the Selection Show, with the Quakers likely coming in as either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed.