PHILADELPHIA, PA. 5/4/2012 – Solid defense, great goaltending, and efficiency on offense were the winning ingredients as the top seeded University of Pennsylvania Women’s Lacrosse team moves on to the Ivy League championship game with a 9 – 5 win over the Harvard Crimson at Dunning-Cohen Champions Field at Penn Park. Penn will meet Dartmouth for the championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. It will be the second time in the three-year history of the tournament that these teams will meet in the final. Dartmouth advanced with a tightly contested 9 – 8 win over Cornell.
Penn Coach Karin Brower-Corbett wants the season to continue for this team, and another
“I’m very proud of this team,” said Brower-Corbett. “All year we just fought and fought.”
The young Penn defense played an outstanding positional game in front of Senior goal keeper Emily Leitner. Harvard out shot Penn 27 – 16 and had a time of possession advantage. Despite that time and shooting edge Harvard could not get great shots at the net, then Leitner made 10 saves when the Crimson did get to the net. Harvard was 0 – 3 on Free Position shots. Early in the first half Harvard had possession of the ball for seven minutes, got six shots away, but did not score. The Quakers were whistled for 10 penalties compared to 17 for Harvard. Leitner credits the defense for her performance.
“They (the defense) played awesome,” said Leitner. They were helping each other, not just one person going out on the ball. Everyone was hedging and that’s why it took Harvard so long to get a shot. We had pressure on them.”
The defensive players for Penn do not have a lot of experience. Starters Taylor Foussadier, Meg Markham and Leah Mc Bride are Freshman while Allie Martin is a Sophomore. The Red and Blue did not have the services of Sophomore Lydia Miller for this game. The back line has grown as the season progressed.
“We’re young, and the first stance they (the defense) had was awesome,” Brower-Corbett said. “It’s a little nerve-wracking for some of our freshman out there, but they didn’t play like that tonight especially in the defensive zone. It was a long time that Harvard had the ball, and they were working us. We were able to come up with a couple of caused turnovers, saves, and that gave us momentum on attack.”
Penn got off to a good start getting two goals from Sophomore attack Courtney Tomchik and a score from Junior midfielder Maddie Poplawski to take a 3 – 0 lead five minutes into the game. The Quakers took a 6 – 1 lead into halftime as Junior midfielder Meredith Cain got a natural hat trick giving Penn their margin at intermission.
“We wanted our attack to work their defense,” Brower-Corbett said. “We were moving well, not forcing things, and creating opportunities. We were able to do that today, and hopefully we can do that on Sunday.”
Harvard made a late charge getting to within 8 – 5 with just over four minutes left to play. A late goal by Tomchik put the game in the win column for the Red and Blue.
Cain and Tomchik scored three goals in the game, Poplawski added two and an assist. Senior attack Erin Brennan had a goal and three assists. Midfielder Melanie Baskind led Harvard with two goals.
The top two seeds will battle it out for the title on Sunday. Dartmouth defeated Penn 9 – 7 in Hanover on April 14. Brower-Corbett is anxious to meet the Big Green again, this time on home turf. And get another game for senior leaders Erin Brennan and Emily Leitner.
“We lost to them and we want to play them,” said Brower-Corbett. “I said it after we lost to them that I want to see them again. If we can play like we played tonight or against Princeton, we can win. They have a couple of big threats, but if we play more of a team defense like we did tonight, and our offense creates like it did, we can win. I am excited that we get to play them. It’s going to be a battle. We’re excited.”
“You want to play the best and Dartmouth is one of the best teams in the league and the NCAA,” Leitner said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian