The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

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

Junior defender Natasha Gorriaran moves the ball up the field during the NCAA quarterfinal matchup against Northwestern on May 16. Credit: Sydney Curran

EVANSTON, ILL. — The journey to the Final Four of the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Tournament runs straight through Northwestern and the “Lake Show.” 

No. 8 Penn women’s lacrosse entered its matchup against No. 1 Northwestern coming off a season where it has previously upset two teams ranked in the top five. Unfortunately, the Quakers couldn’t come up with another upset as it fell to the Wildcats 20-7.

“Credit to Northwestern, obviously, they came out here to play and they showed that they are the returning national champions,” coach Karin Corbett said. “I wish we had a better day today, but I'm really proud of this team.” 

Northwestern (17-2, 5-1 Big Ten) entered the matchup as the defending national champions. Under the leadership of coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, the Wildcats have seen tremendous success in the NCAA tournament, including a 32-0 home-field record. Today, that experience showed. 

Penn (15-5, 5-2 Ivy) drew first blood with junior attacker Keeley Block slotting the ball past goaltender Molly Laliberty. Just over two minutes later, the Wildcats came clawing back with attacker Dylan Amonte scoring to level the game. After this opening exchange, both teams jabbed and sidestepped, warily looking for the opposition’s weaknesses on defense. 

The Quakers were the first to break the ice with junior midfielder Anna Brandt scoring nearly six minutes later to restore the Quakers lead. This would be the last time that the Red and Blue entered the draw with a lead. The Wildcats came alive soon after, scoring two goals in the span of two minutes to help garner a lead after the opening frame of play. 

Penn managed to hang around for the opening moments of the second quarter. Despite the Wildcats opening up the scoring, the Quakers were able to put away one of their own as senior attacker Niki Miles found junior attacker Erica Chung crashing the crease for her first goal of the game. 

Four days ago, attacker Izzy Scane set the all-time Division I record for goals in women’s lacrosse. It took over a quarter of play for Scane to get going today, but when she did, the floodgates opened. Her first goal came less than a minute after Chung’s, and Scane would finish the game with four goals in addition to two assists. Scane’s first goal was the first of a five-goal run for the Wildcats, with the attention that Scane garnered on defense opening up pathways for her teammates. Erin Coykendall best took advantage of this attention, finishing the game with a game-high 11 points off of four goals and seven assists. 

Chung would score her second of the evening to end the five-goal run, but trouble winning the draw spelled doom for Penn as the Wildcats closed out the half with two more goals to put the lead up to seven by halftime. 

The third quarter began like how the second quarter ended — with the Quakers struggling to win control of the draw. Northwestern was punishing with its hunger on offense, turning six straight draw controls into six straight goals, extending its lead to 13.

The Quakers didn’t manage to win a draw until there was just over three minutes left to play in the quarter. On that possession Brandt, after dodging four different Northwestern defenders, was able to slot a low shot past the goalkeeper for another Quaker score. 

After the Wildcats added on three more to reach 20 goals, the Quakers were able to end the game on somewhat of a high note. Chung picked up her third goal of the game off with just over three minutes left in the match. Junior midfielder Gracie Smith added on one of her own with just over a minute to play before the time ran out and the Quakers season officially came to an end. 

Despite the disappointing loss, the Quakers have put together a season to remember. Penn has done its part in paving the way for a NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse tournament that saw three Ivy League teams featured this year after only one participant last year. 

“I think that the Ivys coming out of COVID were discounted a lot,” Corbett said. “We've been able to turn around as a league and get two teams into the Elite Eight. I just want to get out there that the Ivy League is back and we're excited and [we have to] really credit our seniors and fifth years this year for putting us back on the map and really restoring Penn lacrosse which has a great tradition of success.”

And while the team will miss many of the graduating seniors who have contributed greatly to the program’s success such as back-to-back unanimous Ivy League Defender of the Year Izzy Rohr and goaltender Kelly Van Hoesen, the Red and Blue will be returning quite a few familiar faces. Among them are Chung, Brandt, and junior defender Natasha Gorriaran who were some of the bright spots in what was overall a lackluster performance today. 

“I think because of [the fifth years’ and seniors’] leadership and the standards that they set and instilling what ‘Penn Pride’ means, they’ve left a legacy for this team to follow and to live up to,” Corbett said. “I think that it is exciting for these younger players to follow in their footsteps and hopefully continue on that trajectory of being a top team.”

Penn women’s lacrosse will return next spring.