April 16, 2011

Penn Edges Dartmouth in Ivy Showdown

from press release

PHILADELPHIA - In a battle between a pair of teams which entered the weekend tied atop the Ivy League women's lacrosse standings at 4-0, No. 8 Penn relied on its backbone in goal to make sure the Quakers came out on the winning side.

Emily Leitner tied her career high with nine saves and added six ground balls and a caused turnover to hold off Dartmouth and give her offense a chance to turn a one-goal halftime deficit into a 10-9 final score in favor of the Quakers.

With the win, Penn improves to 9-3 overall and 5-0 inside the Ivy League while the Big Green slip to 8-3 in 2011 and 4-1 in Ancient Eight play.

In addition, the win is Penn's 34th in a row in Ivy League play, extending the Red and Blue's conference winning streak, which is now the longest active streak in the country and third-longest in NCAA history (Northwestern's 38-game ALC winning streak which was snapped on Thursday).

The Red and Blue scored three times in the first 4:58 of the second half to erase the halftime deficit, but the game was not ultimately decided until Caroline Bunting's second goal of the game with 3:01 to play broke a 9-9 tie. And really, the game wasn't finally sealed up for Penn until Emily Leitner's hustle play to get to the ball first after a Kat Collins shot with 44 seconds left had gone wide. The final three minutes saw five turnovers between the two teams as Penn fought to hold the ball and Dartmouth was forced to move quickly in an attempt to tie the game. In fact, a late Penn turnover in the final 10 seconds gave Dartmouth one final grasp at scoring, but a long pass from the goalkeeper was picked off by Bunting to the delight of the Penn faithful.

In the opening moments of Saturday's game, chances of extending the streak seemed dim as Dartmouth scored four of the first five goals to take a 4-01 lead midway through the opening half. However, after head coach Karin Brower Corbett called timeout following the fourth goal, the Quakers scored twice to climb back in the game.
Giulia Giordano scored just 28 seconds after the Big Green took the three-goal lead, netting her second of the game with 14:27 left in the first half on a nice pass from Meredith Cain. The play took no time to develop, with Maddie Poplawski winning the draw, finding Cain on the run for the entry which led to Giordano's score. Just under a minute after Giordano's second goal, Lindsey Smith struck for the Quakers, who turned one of Leitner's free position saves into a positive on the scoreboard.

After the Big Green retook a two-goal lead with 12:16 left in the first half, Cain scored her first of three in the game off a Tory Bensen feed with 10:43 left in the opening stanza. A little under six minutes later, Caroline Bunting connected on a free position to tie the game for Penn. It looked as if the game would head to halftime knotted at 5-5, but Sarah Parks scored on a low shot with four seconds left to give the Big Green a 6-5 edge at the break.

The opening five minutes of the second half was all Penn as the Quakers scored three times to take an 8-6 lead. First up was Erin Brennan who converted a possession started by a turnover off the stick of Dartmouth keeper Kristen Giovanello 21 seconds into the period. Carolyn Pollard scooped up the ground ball, cycled it to Brennan and Penn's leading scorer netted her 25th of the year to tie the game once again only 37 seconds into the period.

Cain took care of the next two goals, scoring 1:45 into the second half off a feed from Bunting and recording her first collegiate hat trick 4:58 into the period on an unassisted goal off a restart following a Dartmouth foul.

Brennan's second of the game on a free position with 20:30 to play evened out a goal from Sarah Plumb two minutes prior, re-establishing a two-goal lead for the Quakers.  The Big Green did not fade away, though, with Plumb scoring a free position with 17:21 to play and Kristen Goldberg finally scoring the equalizer with 4:12 remaining. Giovanello did all she could to give Dartmouth the opportunity to tie, making three saves in between goals for the Big Green, all from close range. At the same time, Leitner was denying the Big Green with two saves of her own before Goldberg's fast break score.

After Dartmouth tied the game, Penn chose not to call timeout and let play continue. Lily Posner came from the back line to win the draw and take the ball in on the fly, allowing the Quakers to set up their offense. Eventually, the ball found Bunting on the left side and she broke to goal, depositing a shot low left corner for her 14th goal of the season.

Bunting was one of four players with multi-point games for Penn as she had two goals and an assist. In addition to Cain's four-point day, Brennan and Giordano each had two goals. Leitner's six ground balls led the way for Penn, with Pollard, Brennan and Giordano each adding three. Lydia Miller had three caused turnovers in the game, including a monster theft with 1:17 to play just steps from Penn's cage. As a team, Penn caused 13 of Dartmouth's 16 turnovers - with 10 different players recording at least one.

Giovanello made nine saves in goal for the Big Green, while Plumb led the offense with three goals. Kat Collins had two goals and a pair of assists as well.

Penn is home again on Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m. against No. 12 Princeton for Senior Day. The Quakers will look to clinch at least a share of the Ivy League's regular season championship against the Tigers as Penn is the lone remaining unbeaten inside the League. The Tigers were downed by Harvard on Saturday, 9-8, leaving Princeton at 3-1 in the Ancient Eight, alone in fourth place behind 4-1 Dartmouth and Harvard.


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