The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

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

Penn women's lacrosse defeated No. 1 Maryland 13-9 on March 27. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Fear the Turtle. That mantra has held true for No. 14 Penn women’s lacrosse in the previous 15 times which it faced off against No. 1 Maryland away at College Park. Today, the Quakers made history by toppling the top-ranked program in the nation for the first time ever away from Franklin Field. 

“It’s incredible. It’s funny, because I remember coming and watching games on this exact field as a kid,” junior midfielder Anna Brandt said. “So to have the opportunity to play one of the best teams in the nation [and win] is a dream come true.”

In the back-and-forth affair, patience on offense and aggressive defense guided the Red and Blue to a 13-9 win. 

Like the last time the two teams faced off, Penn (8-1, 2-0 Ivy) drew first blood off of Brandt’s stick. The White Hall, Md. native is no foreigner when it comes to playing against the Terps (9-2, 2-0 Big 10). Brandt played against much of the Maryland roster throughout high school and has shown out every time the Quakers have faced off against the Terps. 

In last season’s matchup, Brandt scored a career-high single game total of five goals. This year, she followed up the performance with a four goal performance — the third of which made her just the 15th player in program history to surpass 100 career goals. 

“It just means so much — being able to do it with my 40 best friends,” Brandt said. “I just want to do well for everyone else because they deserve it. I want the world for this team. I truly believe in every single one so I think this is really testament to our team’s culture and the girls I have out there supporting me.”

Some early and uncharacteristic sloppy play on clears — an aspect of the game that Penn has been exceptional at this year, as shown by it being ranked fifth in the nation when it comes to clear percentage heading into the game — gave the Terps several unearned possessions. Maryland capitalized on such gifted opportunities, jumping out to a 2-1 lead midway through the first quarter. 

But while the Quaker defensive unit bent, it did not break, and even came up with key turnovers to keep the momentum with the Red and Blue. Only up by one, senior defender Izzy Rohr had a well-placed check that Brandt was able to convert into her third goal of the night off an assist from senior attacker and reigning Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week Niki Miles. The Rohr-Brandt-Miles trio that swept the Ivy end-of-season awards last year showed why they were the first trio in Ivy League history from the program to achieve such honors. 

Heading into halftime with Penn up just two, the energy in the stands was palpable. The fans decked out in Maryland gear were eagerly awaiting for the number one team in the country to click together and go on a run. Coming out of the break, the fans got what they wanted — just not from their team. 

The Quakers came out hot with junior defender Natasha Gorriaran scoring her first goal of the game and season four minutes into the third quarter. And despite Miles picking up a yellow card foul that granted Maryland a woman-up opportunity, the Terps were unable to capitalize, opening up the path for Brandt to score her fourth goal of the game and give Penn a four-goal lead. Junior attacker Keeley Block added on a goal of her own to give Penn its largest lead of the night at that point in the game. 

Much to the Terps’ credit, they showed why they earned the number one ranking. Attacker Hannah Leubecker recorded four goals on the night for Maryland, while goaltender Emily Sterling notched 12 saves. Sterling, who entered the night as the third best goalkeeper in the country, refused to let the Quakers run away with the game. With over 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Leubecker’s fourth goal of the game brought the Terps within two. Despite goals from junior midfielder Gracie Smith and freshman midfielder Eden Welch to double the lead, it wasn’t until Penn’s final clear with just seconds left on the clock that the Penn players were able to finally relax and celebrate. 

The stifling Penn defense kept one of the nation’s top programs at bay for lengthy periods of time, with the longest scoring drought for the Terps lasting nearly 12 minutes before attacker Libby May was finally able to break through. Although the streak of 15 minute scoreless periods ended tonight, the Quakers weren’t too upset with the notion of holding Maryland to under 10 goals. 

“That’s what’s great about this defense, because they’re a veteran defense,” coach Karin Corbett said. “We have several different zones. And we decided to stick with that tonight [because it was working].”

While Penn played at an incredibly fast pace on defense, the Red and Blue took a much more methodical and clock-draining approach to the game on offense. Their game plan revolved around settling the ball and only taking the clean, open looks — a strategy that involves all seven players doing their parts in order for it to work. Against Michigan, the team failed to really get the gears grinding. Today, all seven players on offense were able to play their role near perfectly to much success.

“I think the coolest thing about this season is that it’s really been anyone’s game,” Brandt said. “We said before in the locker room — it’s kind of who just wants it more. And so we took that mentality and tonight was just going to be a battle of … who wanted the win more, and I think we showed that tonight.”

The win ends a 14-game losing streak for the Quakers against the Terps, and is Penn’s way of announcing to the rest of the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse programs that the Ivy League should not be overlooked. 

“I don’t think that we got a ton of respect for that afterwards with our preseason rankings,” Corbett said. “And so I think it’s been driving the [team]. I think they felt that they could have won last year … they have a chip on their shoulder that we are better than what we think we are, and we’re going to show it this year.”

Penn women’s lacrosse will continue its road trip facing off against archrival Princeton on April 3 at 7 p.m. where it will hope to extend its undefeated streak in the Ivy League.