Freshman Goalie, Penn Defense Wrangle Duke in Upset of Defending NCAA Champ
from press release
Penn midfielder Dan Savage shoots from the alley Saturday as Duke midfielder Jimmy O'Neill gives chase.
© Jim O'Connor
PHILADELPHIA - For the more than 1,000 people
who gathered at Franklin Field on Saturday aftenoon to see
defending NCAA champion Duke's first appearance at the venerable
stadium, it was a day to remember.
Unless you are a Duke fan, of course. In that case, it was a day to forget.
Playing its first game this season, the Penn men's lacrosse team was methodical on offense and relentless on defense all day. Duke, playing its third, had no response. As a result, the Quakers upended the Blue Devils, 7-3. For you historical buffs, you have to go all the way back to 1986 to find the last time Duke was held to just three goals in a game.
The game was far from pretty -- the teams combined for nearly as many turnovers (43) as shots (50). But Penn did the things it had to do to gain the victory. Of particular note, freshman goalie Brian Feeney announced his arrival to the lineup by making nine saves, a few of them spectacular. That helped keep Duke in check.
Feeney's first half of college ball will go into the books as a shutout. Duke managed just nine shots in the opening 30 minutes, while Penn nearly doubled that total (17) en route to a 5-0 lead as the teams went to the break. A lot of Penn's success in the half can be attributed to Feeney's twin brother, Danny Feeney, who won five of his first seven faceoffs in his collegiate debut.
Sophomore attackman Rob Fitzpatrick got Penn's first goal, just 1:24 into the game, finishing a feed from freshman Drew Belinsky. It took nearly six minutes for the Quakers to double their lead, before Dan Savage hammered home a shot. A big goal came in the final seconds of the first quarter, when sophomore Ryan Parietti finished a feed from Will Koshansky.
In the second quarter, Belinsky netted his first collegiate goal just 1:27 in, and then Anthony Adler finished a Greg Ives feed with 11:26 left before the half. Amazingly, that would be all the scoring before the teams retired to their locker rooms.
Duke looked like the break did it some good, scoring just 57 seconds into the second half when Justin Turri finished a Christian Walsh feed. However, Fitzpatrick answered with a superb goal less than three minutes later, going behind his head from in tight to beat Duke goalie Dan Wigrizer. That ended up being all the scoring in the quarter, with Penn doing its part defensively by holding off two Duke man-up situations.
Duke had two more man-ups early in the fourth, and goals came out of both. The first came just as Penn was getting back to even, as Zach Howell converted a Robert Rotanz feed with 12:30 left. Two minutes later, Walsh and Turri reverted roles from their earlier goal, as Walsh finished a Turri feed during a man-up.
Penn fans had good reason to get nervous, but the Quakers on the field had the answer. The offense had a nice possession that ended with Al Kohart netting his first goal of the season from outside. Belinsky was credited with an assist on the play.
Penn had eight different players credited with points on Saturday, and had six goalscorers. In his debut, Belinsky led the way with a a goal and two assists, while Fitzpatrick was the only multi-goal scorer. At the other end, Turri and Walsh had a goal and an assist apiece. Wigrizer finished with 11 saves.
There is little time to bask in celebration for Penn; the Quakers are back in action Tuesday night, hosting Bucknell at 7:30 p.m. Penn will also be home next Friday, hosting Lafayette at 7 p.m.