Corcoran Leads Penn Past Delaware in Season Opener
PHILADELPHIA – Britt Brown considered coming to the University of Pennsylvania out of high school.
Instead, the goalkeeper started at Virginia, but after playing freshman year there and taking her sophomore year off, she found her way to Penn, where she stopped nine shots in her first career start as the No. 16 Quakers held off No. 20 Delaware, 12-10, at Franklin Field in their season opener Saturday.
"I was fortunate enough to be able to get back in the game, to be able to play here at Penn," Brown said. "I had the support of great teammates to get me back in it. I'm seeing the ball and ready for the next win, ready to beat Duke. We're super excited."
Penn (1-0) is 5-0 all-time at Franklin Field against Delaware (2-1). Nina Corcoran had two goals and four assists, Lely DeSimone had three goals and Emily Rogers-Healion had a goal and two assists for the Quakers, who will play at Duke next Sunday.
Delaware had three goals from Kirsten Hale, two goals from Jamie Schwartz and three assists and a goal from Kara Dattellas. The Blue Hens will play four of their next five games at home beginning by hosting LaSalle on Tuesday.
"We just didn't find 60 minutes from our entire team," said Delaware coach Kateri Linville, whose team had opened the season with an impressive win at Georgetown and a lopsided win over George Washington. "We were working through that. We had a couple brilliant plays on defense to give us momentum, but we just didn't get that 60-minute flow from our whole team. With that slow start against a team like Penn, we just came up short."
Corcoran, Penn's leading returning scorer and better known for her passing after setting a new Penn record with 40 assists last year, came out aggressive early with two early goals as Penn jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first six minutes.
"Nina can do both," said Penn coach Karin Corbett. "With the goals she has set for herself and this team, she has to score goals. She's been doing that in practice. She's confident in herself. She definitely can score goals."
Delaware came within one goal only twice the rest of the way, both times in the first half, and Penn's new-look defense held up.
"A really young defense, to do that well on a Delaware defense that has more threats than they've had, was good to see," Corbett said. "You can't just hide defenders against them. They all have potential to score and that makes it harder for a young defense."
Brown was tested almost immediately at Penn's defensive end. She came up with a point-blank save 30 seconds into the game and saved a free position shot minutes later to get herself going.
"That definitely gave me confidence when there was a cutter right in the middle, my first career save with Penn," Brown said. "To have it be the girl's right in front of me with no defender, that was huge. That was huge momentum for the rest of the game. It was awesome."
Brown follows in the footsteps of Lucy Ferguson, an All-American who started the last three years for Penn. Tewaaraton Award nominee Emily Leitner preceded Ferguson.
"Lucy was great, Emily Leitner was great, and now it's my turn," Brown said. "It's my chapter. It's my time to make the story. It's my time with my teammates to show them what Penn lacrosse is. Just because we lost a goalie who was awesome doesn't mean that we're done."
The Quakers played three new starters on defense in freshmen Katy Junior, who was outstanding, a sophomore Katie Cromie, and junior Liz Gully. Standout sophomore Megan Kelly is young, but proved herself last year and returned as a starter.
"Obviously we're a young defense, and a lot of people know Penn lacrosse is about defense and we're still about defense," Brown said. "Our attack is very strong, but I don't think anyone is going to underestimate our defense. We might be young, but we're feisty and we're ready to get the ball back. We have nothing to lose."
The defense gave Brown shots that she could handle, and she came up with a few that weren't necessarily expected.
"I think I was 100 percent on my free positions today and that's just the confidence in me," Brown said. "As a goalie, you have to be confident on the field. You have to be the source of energy for the team when they're down and when they're up you need to keep it going. For me to come up with a save on those free positions, I think it got us going on the defensive end."
Senior midfielder Lely DeSimone had three goals for the Quakers. (Kevin P. Tucker)
Hale broke through for Delaware eight minutes into the game to trim Penn's edge to 3-1. Hale singlehandedly kept the Blue Hens attack effective in the first half.
After Delaware's Schwartz cut into the lead with a gorgeous backhanded goal to make it 3-2, Penn's Cummings fully extended for a long, high pass from Corcoran, then under heavy duress in front of the Delaware goal found a way to underhand it in for her first career goal and a two-goal lead.
DeSimone's second goal of the game gave Penn its second three-goal lead in the first half, 5-2, when the Delaware defense did not slide to her quickly enough.
After Hale scored her second of the game, Brown made saves on back-to-back Delaware possessions to preserve Penn's two-goal lead. After her second straight save, Penn went right down the field to build a 6-3 lead on Rogers-Healion's goal.
Delaware clawed back with two goals in less than a minute as Hale scored her third goal of the half with a quick move going left, and Shannon Hawley deposited a goal from the right side as Delaware crept within 6-5. They never got closer.
Penn's Brooke Kiley spun and fired one low for a 7-5 edge. Delaware goalie Taylor Carpentier intercepted a final pass attempt before the half.
Penn built on its halftime advantage by scoring five of the first seven goals of the second half by five different scorers. The Quakers dominated draw control, 9-2, in the second half with sophomores Emilia Lopez-Ona and Caroline Cummings trading off on the draw all game. Neither saw significant time last year.
"They're taking ownership and working really hard and putting in their reps to be good at it," Corbett said. "That is something with a young defense we need to have the ball more."
Penn finished its early second-half possessions with goals from DeSimone, Catherine Dickinson, Cummings, Sarah Barcia and Iris Williamson. Corcoran assisted on three of the goals. Penn did not score the final 17 minutes of the game.
"We've got to be able to keep the pace and the attack mentality for 60 minutes," Corbett said.
Schwartz's goal gave Delaware a kick start and made it 12-8, and another four minutes later Dattellas helped the Blue Hens trim it to 12-9. When Ali Karwoski picked up a turnover, Lyons converted her second goal of the half for Delaware to make it 12-10 with 4:31 left.
"You're heart's racing a bit," Brown said, "but you also have to have that confidence in your defense. I have full confidence in my defense."
Lopzez-Ona won the ensuing draw for the Quakers, but Kiley's shot was deflected away, and Penn was called for an illegal screen to give Delaware the ball back with two minutes to go. After a timeout with 51 ticks left, they couldn't get a shot off.
"Delaware is very good at the draw and dumps, and they pass very well at the challenge," Corbett said. "I thought our defense did a really nice job those last couple minutes."
"Those last two goals were on me," Brown said. "I need to make those saves. I know I'm a big-time goalie that can make those saves, so when I come back and go against Duke, I'm going to make those saves. That's how you have to look at it."
It was a good start for Britt Brown and the Quakers, and she is looking forward to the season ahead in her second chance to play college lacrosse.
"This has been a great experience," Brown said. "I can't thank Karin and the coaches enough for really trusting me and also having the confidence to bring me back."
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