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Penn women's lacrosse played Richmond in the first round of the NCAA tournament on May 10.

Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

When it rains, it pours. And when Penn women’s lacrosse plays, it’s always a downpour of goals.

No. 8 Penn handled business at home today as it hosted Richmond in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In the two programs’ first-ever meeting, Penn landed on top with a decisive 16-5 victory.

Early in the game, Richmond’s defense smothered the Penn attack with man coverage, forcing dropped balls and keeping the Quakers (13-4, 5-2 Ivy) from getting any good shot attempts.

While the offense took some time to warm up, senior goalkeeper Kelly Van Hoesen did not. In the first half alone, Van Hoesen had eight saves. She stopped shots any way that she could — blocked by her legs, deflected off her stick, caught in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. Van Hoesen’s goalkeeping kept Richmond (13-5, 7-2 Atlantic 10) to only three goals in the first half. Combining her goalkeeping and the defensive unit’s tenacity, Richmond went on a 17-minute scoreless drought between its first and second goals.

“I really just focus on reacting, getting my hands up to the ball, and then just automatically to the next play. If the ball goes back of the net, just focusing on the next one,” Van Hoesen said. “I think we have the best defense in the country … which really just inspires me. Every game they do their job, so I know I need to do my job for them and get the ball back to them.”

On the offensive end, senior attacker Niki Miles got the ball rolling for Penn with a free position goal. She scored twice more in the first half to secure an early hat trick. Miles, who finished with four goals on the day, now has a season total of 52 goals. She holds the program single-season scoring record with 63 goals.

Up 3-1 to start the second quarter, Penn padded its lead, scoring five unanswered goals. Freshman attacker Catherine Berkery notched her first goal of the day after collecting the deflected shot off Richmond goalkeeper Abby Francioli to bring Penn’s lead up to 6-1. And when Richmond had two back-to-back goals within a minute to cut the deficit, Berkery answered again to bring the lead back to 7-3.

“I think [that] something really special about the entire team is how willing everyone is to do everything it takes to win,” Miles said. “And I think our defense is really part of what makes our offense special, so making plays really comes from one another.”

With a four-goal lead at halftime, the Quakers did not show any signs of slowing down. While the Spiders were able to sneak one in right between Van Hoesen’s feet, the Quakers were constantly right at Francioli’s doorstep. They scored six goals in the third quarter, including four within five minutes.

Junior midfielder Anna Brandt had been quiet throughout the second quarter, but she opened the third quarter with a hot start for the Quakers, scoring within 45 seconds. She scored again later in the quarter, bringing her season total to 55 goals. With that goal, she passed herself on the program single-season goal standings and is now closing in on second place, currently held by both Tory Bensen and Julie Heller with 58 goals.

As the rain poured down and the gap widened, Richmond tried to claw their way back into it. The Spiders scored off a free position and looked to do the same when given another opportunity on their next possession. But Van Hoesen wouldn’t let them get away that easily: She deflected the shot, nearly sending it over the net and inciting chants of “5-2!” from the crowd.

“We have so much trust in the defense,” Miles said. “All the team just gets so juiced on every play [Van Hoesen] makes.”

While the fourth quarter started with a two-minute yellow card penalty to Miles for a check to the head, it was still undeniably Penn’s day. The defense held Richmond scoreless and the offense found the back of the net three more times to seal the win with a scoreline of 16-5.

Penn ultimately finished with nine different goal scorers, including two goals apiece from senior midfielder Maria Themelis and senior attacker Lexi Edmonds and a goal from junior defender Natasha Gorriaran.

“That’s one thing about Penn, is that these kids who are on the scout team work really hard and are ready to take the field when we need a change. We’ve had kids do that throughout the year, especially at this time,” coach Karin Corbett said. “So, I think this says a lot to this team about how bought in they are, whether they are a superstar or they’re a kid that doesn’t see much time. They’re ready to go.”

Penn now awaits the winner of the Duke and Loyola Maryland matchup to see who they will play on Sunday at Franklin Field at 1:00 p.m.