PHILADELPHIA, Pa. 4/17/2012 – It was not a Big Five basketball game, but it was a meaningful game in men’s lacrosse for both schools. The intensity showed throughout. In the end the University of Pennsylvania Quakers who led from start to finish brought home a 9 – 5 win over the host Saint Joseph’s. Penn has won all nine meetings against Saint Joseph’s, but both coaches see this game as an emerging rivalry.
“It’s exciting as we have a lot of local kids on the team now,” said Penn Coach Mike Murphy. “Kids from the Inter-Ac and the Central League, and Saint Joe’s is building a program. They are vastly improved. They have local kids too, so this is going to become a big game in Philadelphia. It’s a big win for us.”
“It’s really a big rivalry whenever
the Philly teams get together,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Taylor Wray. “We’ve played Penn and it’s a game we want to keep on the schedule. It draws a great crowd and it’s great for Philly lacrosse. It means a lot to our guys and I thought we played really hard. We needed a couple of bounces to go our way, but Penn played great.”
Saint Joseph’s started quickly getting offensive opportunities, but the early Penn defense anchored by Sophomore goal keeper Brian Feeney kept Saint Joseph’s away. The Quakers got their offensive equilibrium going out to a 3 – 1 lead. Late in the second quarter Penn got the ball with 50 seconds to play after a missed shot. The Red and Blue worked the ball to get a goal by Senior midfielder Dan Savage to take a 4 – 1 halftime lead.
“Their goal tender played great and their defense played great,” Wray said about Penn getting the lead. “They forced our offense into lower percentage shots, but our offense is coming together. They are getting more confident, and able to generate good looks at the cage. Penn played great, but our guys are getting opportunities and that is all we can ask of them.”
The Quakers took control at the beginning of the second half getting goals from Sophomore midfielder Danny Feeney and Junior attack Ryan Parietta in less than 30 seconds. The 6 – 1 lead was the momentum Penn needed to turn the game in their direction.
“We got that goal late to go in 4 – 1 (at halftime) then got two goals off the faceoffs at the beginning of the half,” Murphy said. “They called timeout and now you’re up 6 – 1. We didn’t let up too much. The defense played well and the goalie made some saves.”
Saint Joseph’s was getting short possessions. The Quakers lead grew to 7 – 2 on another Parietta goal, his third of the game. At that point in the game Saint Joseph’s began their run. Sophomore attack Ryan McGee scored at the 9:56 mark to cut the gap to 7 – 3. Senior midfielder Augustus Quinzani connected at 6:49, then McGee got his third of the game getting the Hawks to within 7 – 5 with 5:27 remaining in the game. McGee had a 3 point night on 7 shots. He is the team leader in scoring with 32 points this season.
“This team has always been resilient,” Wray said. “I feel if we can start games with the type of urgency and energy we finish with, we’d be in a better spot.”
After another save by Feeney Penn would put the game away on a goal by Senior attack John Conneely with 2:46 on the clock, then Senior midfielder Dan Savage ended the scoring with a goal with 1:06 left.
Penn outshot Saint Joseph’s 40 – 26, and was able to have a possession advantage by winning 11 of 17 faceoffs.
The Quakers improve to 3 – 8. The Red and Blue have the number one strength of schedule in the nation. Saint Joseph’s is 3 – 9. The Hawks are growing a program. As the teams progress, just like on the hardwood, when these teams meet it will be a great day for lacrosse.
Written By: Glenn Papazian