While Princeton's men's basketball team was busy advancing to the Sweet Sixteen, Penn showed they still have the edge on their rivals in at least one sport: men's lacrosse.
After two tough losses at home this season, the Quakers were determined to get their first win at Franklin Field, and that's exactly what they did. In a nail-biting game, Penn managed to come out victorious against the Tigers 9-8 in overtime.
With a lively crowd at Franklin Field, sophomore attacker Ben Smith was able to crack the code of Princeton’s defense three minutes in, scoring the first goal of the game and his sixth for the season. Penn’s defense held strong afterwards, forcing Princeton to take inopportune shots with the shot clock winding down. But with a long-range goal, Princeton caught Penn sleeping and managed to tie the score before scoring a second to end the first quarter.
The game opened up in the second quarter, with Princeton making it 4-2 just two minutes in, followed by another goal after a penalty gave Princeton a man-up chance. But Penn fought back, with Smith scoring his second goal of the game, assisted by senior midfielder Sam Handley. The two teams kept going back and forth, ending the first half with Princeton up 6-5.
The second half started off with Princeton scoring their seventh goal two minutes in. But Penn responded immediately with a goal by sophomore midfielder Hugh Mullane. Even though Penn had six more shots on goal, Princeton kept the lead by one at the end of the third quarter after huge saves from both goalkeepers.
"Princeton has a lot of really good shooters," junior goalkeeper Emmet Carroll said. "So we had to prep well for it... It was an awesome lacrosse game to watch."
The crowd continued to support the Quakers going into the fourth quarter with a one-goal deficit. After a shot clock violation by Princeton, Penn tied the game with 7:27 left after a goal by Smith, his third of the game. “I think that’s in our DNA, [the players] don’t give up, we just keep playing,” coach Mike Murphy said.
After forcing another stop, Penn took their first lead since the start of the game on a man-up goal by Smith. Now trailing, Princeton had a shot bounce off the goal post with 3:30 left but kept possession and tied it back up at eight each with 3:20 to play. No teams scored in the final minutes of regulation, taking the game to a sudden-death overtime.
Princeton had the first shot on goal in overtime, but it was blocked by Emmet Carroll. Then, with under 20 seconds left, Handley took the ball down the right wing and scored the winning goal, securing the victory for the Quakers.
"We needed that one bad," said Smith, referencing the win as well as last week's loss to Villanova. "Last week was a killer for us, and to start off the Ivy League 1-0, we're just taking it one week at a time."
“We were down the whole game pretty much, and then we tie it and win it in overtime speaks to the quality and character of people [in this team],” Murphy added.
The Quakers, who are ranked 16th nationally in Inside Lacrosse's most recent media poll, will now turn their attention to their next game against Cornell on Mar. 26 in Ithaca, NY, where they will look to continue their winning ways.