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Women's lacrosse celebrates a goal during last season's matchup against Georgetown on March 26, 2023. Credit: Nathaniel Sirlin

It's always sunny in Philadelphia, except when it isn't — and when it rains, it pours. That much was true as No. 13 Penn women’s lacrosse drowned Columbia with a flood of goals in the second quarter of the game en route to a 16-5 win in the rainy afternoon affair.

Entering the matchup, Penn (4-0, 1-0 Ivy) had never lost to Columbia (1-2, 0-1). In the 26th matchup between the two teams, the Quakers made a statement by extending that streak while also making it clear that the reigning Ivy League champions’ plans were to defend that title. 

"It doesn't matter [who] our opponent [is]," coach Karin Corbett said. "One of the things I keep trying to stress to this team is who are we as a lacrosse team and what kind of game are we going to play, no matter who we play. So, [I'm] excited to get the first Ivy win, but [I'm] more excited that we turned the corner on being able to play a more complete game."

The Quakers got off to a rocky start. The opening minutes of the first quarter saw some uncharacteristically sloppy play from the Red and Blue as multiple dropped balls and misplaced passes led to a scoreless 10 minutes. Penn’s mistakes kept the Lions in the game and served as a dangerous reminder that nothing in the Ancient Eight conference is a given, as Columbia ended the scoring drought to leap out to a 1-0 lead off of some nifty stick work from freshman attacker Michelle Zhai.

The punch to the mouth seemed to be the spark that Penn needed to get its act together. Following a yellow card issued to Columbia freshman midfielder Natalia Raiszadeh, the Quakers were able to get themselves on the score sheet with senior attacker Julia Chai scoring off the feed from junior attacker Erika Chung. The Quakers didn’t stop there, as the team proceeded to go on a four-goal run with junior attacker Keeley Block, senior attacker Niki Miles, and Chung all opening up their score sheets for the day. 

With 13.2 seconds left in the first quarter, the Lions reminded the Quakers that they still had some fight left in them. Columbia freshman midfielder Anna Becker scored, using just seven seconds of the clock after Columbia junior midfielder Dani Falcone won the draw. When the Quakers retook the field after the brief break, they came out with punishing intensity and pace. Two saves from Columbia freshman goalie Ava Kimche kept the score much tighter than it could have been. But even that was not enough, as Miles and Chai both added two more goals to their tallies while junior midfielder Anna Brandt notched her first.

"Obviously not to blame the weather, but there definitely some slippery sticks and stuff like that leading to uncharacteristic plays," Chai said. "But I think once we got the ball on offense, just taking the extra time to settle it and get into our groove really helped us."

After holding Columbia scoreless for the entirety of the second quarter, Penn headed into the locker rooms with a commanding 9-2 lead. The Red and Blue entered the halftime break with the Lions essentially declawed and broken spirited. 

Coming out of the halftime break, the Quakers showed very little sign of taking their foot off the gas. Needing just 52 seconds, Brandt scored her second goal of the game off of an assist from Chung. A yellow card two-minute penalty issued to Chai gifted the Lions with a woman-up opportunity that Raiszadeh was able to convert into a goal, ending Columbia’s 20-minute scoreless streak. 

Midway through the third quarter, the crowd held its breath as senior defender Izzy Rohr went down and stayed down. Fortunately for the Red and Blue faithful, Rohr got back up and was an active participant in the proceeding Penn clear. As the reigning Ivy League Defender of the Year, Rohr played a huge part in leading the Quaker defensive unit alongside reigning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week, senior goalkeeper Kelly Van Hoesen to manufacture the scoring drought the Lions experienced.

Entering the fourth quarter with a seven-goal lead, the Quakers put on a clinic of how to officially ice a game. The Quakers possessed the ball for long periods of time, opening up the scoring after four minutes of play with yet another goal from Chai. Chai finished the game with a team leading four-goal performance alongside Miles after starting the day having not scored yet this year. 

"[It] kind of took me a couple of games just to get in my flow, but luckily, I have great teammates," Chai said. "[They] just kind of kept trusting me and feeding [the ball] in there. And luckily, I was able to convert on those [today]."

The win against the Lions makes it 10 straight for Penn in Ivy  play. The team has previously made it clear that it plans on earning a second straight conference title, and today’s performance in the pouring rain brings the Red and Blue one step closer to making that a reality. 

Next week, Corbett will be returning to familiar grounds. The 1992 William & Mary graduate captained both the field hockey and lacrosse teams there during her senior year, en route to being named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year for lacrosse. Next weekend, Penn women’s lacrosse will be traveling down to Williamsburg, Va. to take on William & Mary on March 9 at 11 a.m.

"I'm excited. I love it down there," Corbett said. "I'm excited to have some of the [players] who've never seen William and Mary go to my favorite sandwich shop, The Cheese Shop … one of the best sandwich shops I've ever been to. So I'm excited to be back there."