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Senior defender Grace Fujinaga evades Harvard's Annabel Child on Mar. 24.

Credit: Grace Chen

There are big wins. And then there are statement wins.

Today, No. 15 Penn women's lacrosse decimated No. 21 Harvard in an 18-8 statement win that further solidified its status as one of the best teams in the Ivy League and the nation.

Penn (6-1, 2-0 Ivy), who only had five goals in its one-goal loss to No. 6 Michigan last week, came out of the gate hot on offense. After the defense quickly forced a Harvard (5-1, 1-1) turnover, a few quick passes and 51 seconds is all it took for junior midfielder Anna Brandt to nail a goal into the right side of the  net.

Brandt, who finished the game with five goals, officially has reached 100 career points as a junior. She also inches closer to becoming the second player of this year’s squad to reach the 100-career goal milestone, with 97 goals to her name.

“It couldn’t have come without this team,” Brandt said. “My teammates are setting me up for the looks I want to see and putting me in positions that are gonna help the team be successful. So it’s really just a testament to the selflessness of the team and the team culture we have.”

After Brandt’s goal and 99th point, Harvard put away two back-to-back goals within a little over a minute to take an early lead against Penn. It was the Crimson's only lead of the whole afternoon.

The Quaker defense would not let the Crimson see the light of day afterward. The physical and aggressive defense held the Crimson to a scoring drought that spanned 17:59 minutes and into the second quarter, stalling an offense that prior to this game averaged over 18 goals per game. In the first quarter alone, the Quakers held Harvard to only six shots on goal and forced seven turnovers.

The Red and Blue also decimated Harvard on the ground in the first half, scoring 12 goals in comparison to the Crimson’s five. Leading the way for the defense on securing the ground balls was senior defender Sophie Davis, who finished the half with three.

“No one’s ever left out high and dry and we have this kind of mentality of we’re protecting the goal, we want to give our attack every opportunity that they can to score,” Davis said. “We take so much pride in every little thing we do like a ground ball pickup, a good slide, a great save. We just get so excited about that it carries us through every play and every set…Every time we get scored on, we say, ‘We’re not getting scored on again that way. Let’s go.’”

While Harvard’s offense became colder than the wind chills, Penn was heating up as Penn’s defensive unit created opportunity after opportunity. The Red and Blue went on a scoring run that put the team up 5-2 at the end of the first quarter. And it just kept rolling into the second quarter, with goals by Brandt and fellow junior midfielder Keeley Block to put the Quakers up 7-2. Both Brandt and Block logged hat tricks in the second quarter.

The offensive attack was well-distributed, with seven different players scoring goals and four scoring hat tricks: Brandt, Block, senior attacker Niki Miles, and freshman attacker Catherine Berkery.

“I felt like last week we [were] kind of watching like one kid go to goal and we’re not gonna win that way. We got to have more than two kids score and we were able to do that today,” coach Karin Corbett said of the scoring diversity. “It was a complete attack, group effort to win today. And I was really pleased today.”

Harvard built some momentum in the second quarter, with its third goal to end its drought and another during a man-up opportunity after a yellow card was called on Miles. But Penn answered with three straight goals by drawing free position after free position to put the Red and Blue up 10-4.

During the third quarter, Penn and Harvard traded two goals apiece. But, with Penn up 11-6, Harvard’s sophomore midfielder Charlotte Hodgson had the free position opportunity, coming off of two straight Harvard goals. She fired an absolute rock off to the left side of the goal, but senior goalkeeper Kelly Van Hoeson had an amazing save to stop Harvard’s momentum. On the other end of the court, Brandt weaved through the defense in the middle to put Penn up 12-6 going into the fourth and final quarter.

While up six goals, the fourth quarter still had as much intensity as those opening minutes where Penn was down. Both teams were relentless. After Miles scored off the free position to also log a hat trick, Harvard scored two straight to bring the score within 13-8.  

But, the Red and Blue refused to be complacent while up.

The Quakers tallied five unanswered goals in the last eight minutes — all from different players: junior midfielder Gracie Smith, Brandt (her fifth goal of the game), junior attacker Erika Chung, Berkery, and senior midfielder and birthday girl Kaitlyn Cumiskey. Cumiskey’s birthday goal was the icing on the cake as the Quakers went up by 10 goals.

“I think we made a statement today in the Ivy League. We’ve got a target on our back. Everyone’s coming after us,” Davis said. “But I think today we really took a step forward every place from the defense to the draw to the offense. We just played so fluidly, so together. We’re hitting our stride right now and feeling sharp and I don’t think anyone can really put us in the ground if we bring our A-game in every area.”

Penn will need that A-game on Mar. 27 when they travel to College Park to face off against #2 Maryland.