During this golden Spring Fling weekend, the women’s lacrosse team continues to bask in their golden Ivy season, ending it with a 18-5 win on Saturday.
Penn (10-4, 6-0 Ivy) traveled to Providence to take on Brown (5-8, 2-4). Penn was looking to stay undefeated against Ivy opponents this conference season, win the regular-season title outright, and get coach Karin Corbett her 250th win with the program. Meanwhile, Brown needed a win to keep its hopes for the Ivy League Tournament alive.
Initially, Brown had the chance to pull off the upset. The Bears went up 2-0 very quickly, getting both of their goals in the back of the net within the opening minutes. But the Quakers were never overly concerned.
“We have a saying that we’re down three goals so we’re always playing, always competing in a sense,” senior defender Izzy Rohr said. With this mentality, the Quakers are the type of team that can maintain their composure in the face of a deficit.
All season, the Quakers have proved they are the type of team that keeps their foot on the gas pedal. But today, they proved they’re also the type of team that can absolutely floor it.
Senior Caitlin Cook had Penn's first goal with 12 minutes to go in the first quarter, still rather early in the game. Her goal, as well as one from junior attacker Julia Chai, was assisted by sophomore attacker Erika Chung, who entered the game with a team-leading 26 assists. Chung also had a goal to contribute to Penn, as the Quakers led 3-2 after one quarter.
Penn’s offense kicked it up a gear in the second quarter. There, they continued an unmatched scoring run in commanding fashion. In the second quarter alone, they had seven goals to close the first half with a score of 10-2.
A huge player was senior attacker Niki Miles. She scored any way she could — from absolute rockets off free positions to threading through the Brown defense. She continued to put on her scoring clinic later on, with two goals in the third quarter to add to four in the second. She finished with seven goals and nine points — both career highs.
“Honestly at the beginning of the game we went down 2-0, so I was just thinking one play at a time and how we were going to bounce back from that,” Miles said.
And bounce back they did.
Miles’s goals were part of the 13-0 unanswered scoring run by Penn that spanned from the first to the third quarter and proved how the Quakers' offense is not one to be trifled with. The Quakers won the draw controls 19-8 to maintain offensive position. Other offensive weapons like sophomore attacker Anna Brandt, who achieved her seventh hat trick of the season, kept the Quaker offense rolling through the Bears' Senior Day. The offense exposed Brown's defense, forcing them to hop out of position and make careless mistakes that turned into free-position shots which turned into more goals for Penn.
“We played together really well. The crease attackers — Chung, Chai, and [senior attacker Kennon] Moon — did a great job moving and keeping the defense preoccupied and that opened up some looks,” Miles said.
The Penn defense also contributed to a phenomenal 37-minute-long scoring drought against the Bears. Overall, after those two early goals, the Quakers only let three more shots find the back of the net.
The Quakers switched up their zone which allowed them to keep the middle too tight to let Brown weave its way through. A strong defense forced turnovers, where Penn’s defense is second in the conference. They also kept Brown to just 11 shots on goal all game.
“We lacked some communication in those first few sets and just really keeping our communication with the middies when they came in and not allowing those fast break goals were a huge focal point,” Rohr said. “We got three defensive stops in a row. Those little momentum shifts are so huge for a defense in causing turnovers and getting the ball to the attack. It really just hyped us up.”
Two quick goals by the Bears a few minutes into the fourth quarter brought the score to 14-5 and some life back into the team. But the Quakers matched their energy right away, with junior midfielder Maria Themelis and sophomore midfielder Grace Lillis scoring two and one respectively. Lillis’s goal came with just seconds left, knocking the Bears out — another casualty in the Quaker’s lethal season.
The win also marks a milestone for coach Karin Corbett: she has now reached 250 wins with Penn. Corbett has led the Quakers to massive success since taking over in 2000, including 12 Ivy League Championships — including eight straight from 2007-14 — and 13 trips to the NCAA Tournament.
“That was so amazing. We all respect her so much. She deserved that win, she deserved that milestone,” Rohr said. “She has saved us all as players and people more than any other mentor in my entire life. It was super great winning for her.”
“Karin is someone we all respect, love, and admire greatly so to be able to do that for her when she puts in a lot for all of us is a great feeling,” Miles added.
Penn remains firmly in the driver’s seat as they head into their final game of the season. And with an undefeated season still on their to-do list, expect the same play from your outright Ivy League Champions.