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Junior attacker Julia Chai celebrates after her goal against Georgetown in the third quarter at Franklin Field on March 26. Credit: Nathaniel Sirlin

In a game that could serve as Merriam-Webster’s definition of “back-and-forth”, Sunday’s matchup between Penn women’s lacrosse and Georgetown resulted in a 11-10 gritty win in favor of the Quakers.

The Red and Blue (5-3, 2-0 Ivy) were looking to bounce back from a tough loss they suffered to No. 10 Maryland earlier in the week, which coach Karin Corbett blamed on a poor draw game. This factor proved to be the key to Penn’s success, as the team tallied 16 draws to Georgetown’s (5-6) nine in Sunday’s victory.

Based on shooting numbers alone, it may seem like Penn should have won in blowout fashion. However, it wasn’t until the second half that the Red and Blue were able to get a hold of, and maintain, the lead.

“We tried to string more goals together, back-to-back, and go on a run,” Corbett said. “We produced a lot more opportunities than we capitalized on, but I still think we worked our motions pretty well.”

Despite eight shots in the first quarter, the Quakers only had one goal in the frame: senior attacker Niki Miles’ 20th of the season that cut through a pair of Hoya defenders. No matter the clear attempts or fantastic passing happening on the other side of the field, as soon as the Quakers entered the Hoyas’ defensive zone, their momentum was halted. The Georgetown team tallied six saves to Penn’s one by the end of the first period.

Both teams lit up the scoreboard in the second period, though.

Senior midfielder Caitlin Cook was quick to put one in the back of the net and bring the Red and Blue within one. From then on, scoring celebrations seemed to trade off between the two teams. Penn scored one, Georgetown scored one. Penn scored two, Georgetown scored two.

The score would even three times in the second before the Quakers proved to be the victors of the catch-up game. Fresh off of scoring her first goal of the season eight minutes prior, sophomore midfielder Paige Lipman’s buzzer beater put Penn up 7-6 heading into the half. The two teams combined for nine goals in the second, evident that the scoring troubles Penn experienced in the first period had subsided. But Georgetown seemed to find the back of the net equally as much.

“We came out a little slow,” Lipman said. “I think we were relying on some of our big players to score for us, but once we started to all play together, that is when things started clicking.”

The second half reflected much of the first, but in quieter fashion. Back-to-back goals by junior attacker Julia Chai and junior midfielder Maria Themelis stretched Penn’s lead to three, but the Hoyas would not leave the frame with nothing to show for themselves. A pair of Georgetown goals brought the team back within one. 

After struggling to take the lead from the Hoyas the entire first half, the Quakers never found themselves playing from behind again. Despite another tough back-and-forth battle in the fourth quarter, Penn held its narrow margin until the final buzzer.

“No matter what defense they were putting in, relying on each other and working as a full seven kept the team going,” Lipman said. “We stuck to the game plan and took every play as it came — not focusing on the score.”

It took a team effort, but the team’s victory against Georgetown is a testament to Penn women’s lacrosse’s perseverance. The one-goal win may have taken 11 more shots, it may have taken 10 more ground balls. In the end, though, Penn won the statistical category that matters most.

The momentum from Sunday's win will be as important as ever the next time the Quakers are out, as they take on No. 5 Florida on the road next weekend.