After starting conference play with three straight wins, No. 17 Penn women’s lacrosse further extended that streak with a hard-fought 15-12 win over Cornell at Franklin Field on Saturday.
On Senior Day, the team's seniors set the tone early on, scoring Penn's (8-4, 4-0 Ivy) first five goals and eight of 15 throughout the course of the match. Immediately after the first face-off, senior midfielder Caitlin Cook wasted no time, scoring the game's first goal after just 35 seconds of play.
Over the first nine minutes of the first quarter, Cook would be joined in the scoring by senior attackers Kennon Moon and Niki Miles, who finished with three and four goals, respectively. On the opposite end of the field, senior goalkeeper Kelly Van Hoesen made life difficult for the Big Red (6-7, 2-3), recording eight saves.
“The senior class has done a fabulous job,” said coach Karin Corbett. “We really struggled last year in our culture. [The senior class] has really bought into the team and they've done a tremendous job leading, and you can see that on the field in every game.”
But the hot start that saw Penn leaping out to a 4-1 lead faltered as a series of unforced errors and careless turnovers gave Cornell the opportunity to claw its way back into the game. The Big Red, which had lost their previous two Ivy League matches, were fighting desperately for a spot in next month's conference tournament and were quick to pounce on a Penn team that had seemingly become just a bit too complacent and relaxed after its near-ideal start.
“I think in the second quarter [we] definitely [had] a lack of discipline,” said Miles. “But we turned it around and just focused on playing for four quarters. And that's going to be something we want to grow from moving forward.”
Despite several bouts of extended possession time, the Quakers failed to convert on their offensive chances. Their opponents weren’t as forgiving; at halftime, it was Cornell heading into the locker room with a one goal lead, after going up 7-6 with just over a minute left to play in the second quarter.
Both teams traded goals to start the second half, but with 9:30 left in the third quarter, the tide seemed to turn when junior midfielder Aly Feeley won a draw and scored her first goal of the season to tie the game at eight to eight. This would mark the start of a five-goal run from the Quakers, and gave Penn a lead which Cornell would never bounce back from.
Cornell came close to mounting a comeback, though, as Amanda Cramer pulled the Big Red within two after scoring on a free-position shot with 1:33 left to play in the fourth. However, Penn won the subsequent draw, and Miles put the game away by scoring the game's final goal on an empty net with just seconds left to play.
Even as the team walked off the field truimphiant, singing a loud and proud rendition of the “Red and Blue” to a cheering crowd, Corbett was already focusing on what needs to be done in order to keep the team’s winning streak going, especially since the next game up will be against Penn’s biggest rival: Princeton.
“We've got to play our game,” she said. “We haven't won anything yet. We've got to get there. We've got to play like we want to get to the tournament. I think they played a little bit more like that in the second half but … we gave them too many opportunities.”
After losing the past six games to Princeton, the Red and Blue will be hoping to flip the script at Franklin Field on April 19 at 7:00 pm.
“As a whole team, we have a lot of really big goals this year,” Miles added. “And we're just taking it one game at a time. So we're looking forward to Wednesday for our next challenge.”