The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.


Penn women's lacrosse faced Drexel on Feb. 17.

Credit: Samantha Turner

In a classic battle for 34th Street, Penn women’s lacrosse conquered Drexel in an 11-8 victory after a late comeback attempt by the Dragons. 

Drexel (2-1) and Penn (1-0) opened the match with a stalemate. The Dragons put up a strong defensive effort and kept Penn scoreless, but that could only last so long. Eight minutes in, Penn struck blood first. Senior attacker Niki Miles had the honors of opening up the scoring for the Red and Blue, coming off a historic season where she set the single senior season scoring record. 

Off a disruption by Penn, Miles got in an unassisted over-the-shoulder shot after a spin move. She struck again with 30 seconds left in the time period on another unassisted drive. Junior midfielder Anna Brandt also went right back to business in the first quarter. With the shot clock expiring, Brandt recovered an errant pass and took it all the way to the hole. 

While Drexel had multiple good looks, Penn had a tighter defense within its zone, led by senior captain and defender Izzy Rohr, and great saves by senior goalie Kelly Van Hoesen. Drexel’s saving grace on the offensive end came with what was practically a last second goal.

“I’m excited to play against the defense every single day at practice and I know they’re gonna scare the other teams, in the Ivy and the rest of the out-of-conference games,” Miles said of the Quakers' defensive unit.

Both offenses started coming to life in the second quarter, but the Quakers were able to pad their lead with five goals. Junior midfielder Paige Lipman scored her first while Miles added one to her tally off a free position. Brandt also added one, but all eyes were on junior attacker Keeley Block, who scored two — including one goal off a greatly timed and positioned bounce of the ball. Block missed all of the last season due to injury.

“It’s the most awesome thing,” Miles said of having Block back from injury. “She’s been through so much, worked so hard to get back where she is. And she’s gonna be absolutely electric this year.”

The versatility on the Penn offense plays a prominent role in why the team is so dangerous. Miles and Brandt, both returning after strong seasons, utilized their speed to consistently create separation between them and their defenders to get perfect goal scoring opportunities. Adding Block to the mix created yet another threat on the outside that Drexel had no answers for in the first half.

The Dragons tried to respond by creating some offensive rhythm of their own, scoring two goals in the second quarter, but it did little to stop the bleed as the Quakers controlled most of the possession time. Penn entered the half with a comfortable five-goal lead at 8-3. 

It took the Quakers time to find that offensive success in the second half. Drexel sophomore goalie Jenika Cuocco had impressive close saves to keep Penn at bay despite great looks, including a huge stop against Brandt on a free position attempt. Eventually, senior midfielder Kaitlyn Cumiskey got Penn back on the board off of an assist from Miles after nearly eight minutes of play in the third quarter. 

Despite the offensive stall, Penn outdid the Dragons with multiple interruptions at midfield and aggressive defense in its own zone to keep Drexel from even getting close to Van Hoesen at goal. With 15 minutes to go and Penn up 9-4, Drexel refused to go down without a fight.

After a second goal from Cumiskey to bring the Quakers to 10, Drexel responded with two straight goals of its own to light a fire of hope. The Dragons capitalized off miscues on Penn’s end, getting to Penn’s zone more in this quarter than they had seen since that first quarter stalemate. And after another Drexel goal put the deficit at only 10-7, danger was brewing at Franklin Field.

“We got to shoot better, we should have closed it out,” coach Karin Corbett said. “But kudos to Drexel for fighting the whole time and getting back in.”

Boos poured in from the Drexel faithful as the refs called a green card for a one-minute charge against Drexel freshman Ellie Wall. And then cheers poured in as with two minutes and 44 seconds left, the Dragons scored to draw them within just two goals.

The offense for Penn was as cold as the weather in the fourth period, but it did its job in when it mattered most: Freshman attacker Catherine Berkery scored her first career goal with under two minutes left to bring the score to 11-8, effectively killing the hopes of a comeback.

“It is a veteran team. We [have] just got to shoot better, but they were calm when they needed to be calm,” Corbett said. “As you go on in the season, you have to practice your shooting — your shooting’s got to be better. You [have] got to work on your emotions and having them click a little more.” 

Penn women’s lacrosse returns to Franklin Field on Feb. 24 against the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays.