Last season, Penn lost to Brown in the regular season at Franklin Field, before defeating the Bears in Providence, R.I., during the Ivy League Tournament. While there is still another month before the Ivy League Tournament, the first part of last year’s story repeated itself on Saturday, with Brown defeating Penn 12-11.
On paper, Penn (4-5, 2-2 Ivy) seemed to have the advantage. The Bears (5-5, 1-2) were the Quakers’ first unranked opponents all season, and Penn came into Saturday tied for second in the Ivy League and ranked 14th nationally. Meanwhile, Brown was searching for its first conference win after losses to Harvard and Princeton to open its Ivy campaign.
Throughout much of the first half, Penn seemed in control of the game. The Quakers got on the board first when senior midfielder Gabe Furey found the net less than a minute in, but Brown quickly tied the game less than a minute later. Each team scored once more in the first quarter, and traded goals to start the second.
But a few minutes into the second quarter, the Quakers began to put together a run, scoring four consecutive goals to give themselves a 7-3 lead a bit over three minutes before halftime.
“The first half felt like we were in control,” coach Mike Murphy said.
Two of these goals came from sophomore attacker Luke DiNola, who had only appeared in one game in his career before Saturday, and had yet to score a goal in the Red and Blue.
“He’s been practicing really well, and we just decided that we needed to find a role for him,” Murphy said. “Obviously he played great and scored four goals and he’ll obviously be part of our offense moving forward.”
With senior attacker Dylan Gergar out long term with an injury, coach Mike Murphy has looked for scoring from a variety of players, and DiNola provided it.
“It was just a great opportunity to get out there,” DiNola said. “Whatever role I can do for the team for the rest of the year, I’m happy to take.”
But in the last few minutes before halftime, Brown began to retake the momentum. The Bears scored two goals just over 30 seconds apart, and Penn couldn’t convert a few possessions with the clock winding down. At halftime, Penn’s lead had been cut in half, and the score was 7-5.
Coming out of the break, the Bears quickly scored again, cutting the deficit to just one, but DiNola found the net for his third time on the day just a few minutes later. From there, the game settled into a defensive slugfest, with just one goal — by Brown’s Trey Taylor — coming in that period’s final 10-plus minutes.
All this set the stage for a thrilling fourth quarter, with Penn hanging on to a one-goal lead. But that didn’t last long, as Brown tied the game at eight less than a minute into the period. Penn retook the lead, but the Bears tied it back up, and then took their first lead with six minutes left to play.
“Credit to Brown for making the plays they needed to make, especially down the stretch,” Murphy said. “But I feel like we made just too many mistakes and beat ourselves in some capacity.”
The Quakers tied the game two more times, but each time, Brown had an answer, scoring to make it a 12-11 game with just over two minutes left to play.
Penn had a few more possessions in the game’s final minutes, but failed to convert. With just a few seconds left, the Quakers turned it over, and Brown was able to hold on to the ball and run out the clock.
“A couple of plays that [Offensive Coordinator Mike] Abbott drew up got some good looks,” Murphy said. “A couple of them we didn’t really execute and one of them we just didn’t handle a pass. So a bunch of different things went wrong for us in the last four or five minutes.”
With just two conference games left in their season, the Quakers currently sit in fourth in the Ivy table, and their national ranking is likely to drop as well. But they will have a chance to make up for today’s loss next Saturday at noon against Harvard (5-4, 2-1). The game will be in Cambridge, Mass. and will be televised on ESPN+.