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Penn women's lacrosse played an away game against Princeton on May 3.

Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

There are many ways to mark the conclusion of the school year. Classes end, traditional events like Hey Day and U-Night take place, and Locust Walk is littered with seniors taking graduation photos. Another is postseason play for spring sports. Having been competing since the bleak, cold days of February, teams are finally playing in the spring sunshine, and with stakes higher than ever. 

This was definitely the case for Penn women’s lacrosse on Friday afternoon who dismantled Princeton 18-14 in the Ivy League Tournament semifinals to secure a spot in the conference title game. 

Early in the first quarter, Penn (13-3, 5-2 Ivy) was able to capitalize on some of Princeton’s (10-6, 6-1) several turnovers to take a 2-1 lead off of goals by junior midfielder Anna Brandt and junior attacker Keeley Block. The Tigers recovered, scoring on a player-up opportunity while holding the Quakers scoreless, and the first quarter ended with the teams tied at three, with Brandt scoring again with under a minute left in the period. 

The second quarter was a hard-fought, back-and-forth affair. Whenever Princeton took a one-goal lead, the Quakers would quickly counter, as Brandt completed her first-half hat trick and Block added her second on a free-position chance. But over the middle part of the second quarter, Princeton took the game’s first two-goal lead with a pair of scores. 

Brandt refused to let the Tigers run away with the game and scored two more goals — her fourth and fifth — to tie the match at seven. This tie wouldn’t last until the break, as Princeton scored with under a minute left to give it a one-goal advantage. Brandt didn’t know just how great her performance was in the moment, since she was “just trying to do what I could for my team to win,” she said. 

At the break, the two teams were even in more categories than just goals, but Penn had the advantage in total shots at 19-17 and shots on goal, at 14-11. However, only one Quaker goal had an assist, as opposed to six of the Tigers’. 

At halftime, “defensively we decided to do the same thing,” coach Karin Corbett said. “There were a couple of things that they were doing that we wanted to correct and make sure we were ready for. But then offensively, we just had to be a little bit more patient [and] run our offense with everyone contributing.”

The third quarter continued this back-and-forth action. Whenever a team took a narrow lead, the other would counter it with a goal or two to tie the match or take a lead of their own. For the Quakers, while Brandt was quiet, senior attacker Niki Miles — who led the team in goals during the regular season — stepped up with two goals in the quarter to add on to contributions from other Quakers.

That is, until the quarter’s final minute, when Brandt found the back of the net twice in under 30 seconds to give the Quakers their biggest lead of the afternoon, at 14-11. This gave Brandt seven goals for the evening, tying a record for the Ivy League tournament. 

“The flow of our attack was really working today,” Brandt said. “My teammates were giving me looks that I wanted to see [and] they were creating the space and the lanes … so I really credit a lot of that to them and just being able to open me up for good looks.”

In the fourth quarter, Penn’s defense held firm for the first several minutes, until the Tigers clawed back a goal off of a free-position chance. Penn immediately countered, as freshman attacker Catherine Berkery scored her second goal of the game. Then, with under eight minutes left, the Quakers had a five-minute-long power play due to an illegal hit on senior defender Izzy Rohr, followed by an additional player-up chance less than a minute later. 

Miles didn’t need the whole time, putting Penn up four on a free-position goal. Berkery followed suit with a goal of her own, completing her hat trick. Now, with the game nearly out of reach for the Tigers, Brandt reminded everyone of her presence, scoring her eighth goal of the match to break the Ivy League Tournament record. Even though Princeton scored a pair of goals down the stretch, it came far too late to make an impact. 

Miles was impactful throughout the game, winning 14 draws for the Quakers throughout the game. Corbett said Miles performed incredibly, since she “just kept giving us the ball because I felt like we weren't capitalizing on enough opportunities in the first half. And she just kept winning that draw and giving us that chance.”

While the first half was an incredibly tight affair, the Quakers had full control down the stretch, outscoring Princeton 11-5 in the second half. The Quakers now face the winner of Harvard vs. Yale on Sunday at noon, but with a No. 10 national ranking — and a No. 4 RPI power rating — Corbett is confident the Quakers have a ticket punched to the NCAA Tournament later this month.