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Penn men's lacrosse took on Dartmouth at the Scully-Fahey Field on Mar. 23.

Credit: Weining Ding

No. 12 Penn men's lacrosse battled against Dartmouth in below-freezing temperatures and unrelenting snow. But the miserable conditions didn't stop the Quakers from handling their business, winning 11-8. 

Penn (6-3, 2-0 Ivy) came out to face Dartmouth (3-5, 0-1 Ivy) for the latter’s Ivy League-opener in Hanover, New Hampshire. Whether it be the harsh physical conditions or the intensity of the game, the second game in Penn’s Ivy campaign this season was a battle in every sense of the word. 

The heavy snow made the ball difficult to see and affected the ball’s velocity when thrown. The staff had to come out regularly to shovel out the snow so that the players could see the lines of the field. Even halftime was longer than usual in order to clear up the field. Players regularly slipped and lost their footing, affecting their play. While these conditions were not ideal, players on both teams persevered.

"I was very impressed [with] how they responded to the conditions," coach Mike Murphy said. "It was one of the worst conditions I’ve seen in 30-something years of coaching…[but] they were focusing on doing their jobs.”

The game was neck-and-neck in the first half. The Quakers opened the game with two consecutive goals, but Dartmouth quickly responded, and the first quarter ended with Penn leading by just one. Dartmouth got off to a hot streak at the start of the second quarter, taking advantage of being man-up as sophomore defender PJ McKeigue was penalized. In less than a minute, the Big Green put away three quick goals — the third score coming in the last seconds of McKeigue’s penalty — and forced the Quakers to call a timeout. 

Fortunately, Penn quickly recovered, as junior attacker Tynan Walsh and junior attacker Ben Smith scored two goals to tie the game at 5-5 with just over ten minutes to play in the second quarter. Senior attacker Cam Rubin gave Penn the lead when he ran to center himself in front of the cage, leaving his defender in the dust - or snow, rather - and let the ball fly. 

The joy wasn’t long-lived, however, as Dartmouth responded with a tricky goal of their own, when attacker Colin McGill squeezed the ball between three Penn players to end the quarter. Going into halftime, the teams were tied at 6-6. Because of the slippery snow, turnovers were an issue for both teams, with Penn having 13 and Dartmouth having 10 after the first two quarters. Loose balls and diving bodies were frequent, and the 13 face-offs were split evenly between both teams; this was reflected in the halftime score.

At the start of the second half, however, Penn seemed to fall into an offensive rhythm. Players made sharp passes and sneaky plays. Smith made a quick, strong diagonal pass to Walsh, who was standing right at the corner of the cage, and he easily put it away. Later in the quarter, Walsh ran quickly from behind the cage until he was up next to it, and from there, it was child’s play to put the ball away. Both Walsh and Rubin, who led the game in scoring, scored hat tricks in the third quarter, their second and third of the season, respectively. Walsh scored a season-high of four goals, three of which came in the third quarter. Smith had three assists in the game. 

"There were a couple of things tactically but it was really a matter of our guys,” Murphy said, with regard to coming out more dominant in the second half

Defensively, the Quakers also locked down coming out of the halftime break. On every Dartmouth possession, the Big Green players struggled to get open, and they could only run around cradling the ball before making last-minute shots that either missed or were blocked by senior goalkeeper Emmet Carroll. Dartmouth also had three penalties in the third quarter alone. At the end of the third, Penn led by 10-6 and had completely stopped Dartmouth’s momentum by not allowing it to score at all. 

Sophomore midfielder Griffin Scane kept up the Red and Blue's offensive momentum by scoring another goal in the fourth, extending Penn’s lead to 11-6. But Dartmouth made a valiant effort to keep itself alive in the game, scoring two goals in the span of a minute and two-thirds into the quarter. For the remaining four and a half minutes, both teams went scoreless as both teams dealt with penalty trouble, timeouts, and back-and-forth scrambles after the ball.

The game was physical, tough, and messy, but Penn came on top with a dominant win in their second game in the Ivy Conference. Penn men's lacrosse looks to gear up next against Cornell next Saturday at home in Franklin Field at 1 p.m.