NEW YORK, NY 5/3/2019 – The University of Pennsylvania men’s lacrosse team held off a late game rally by the Brown Bears to earn a 13 – 12 win and a berth in the Ivy League Tournament Championship game vs. the defending national champion Yale Bulldogs on Sunday in New York. It will be the second trip to the title game for the Red and Blue in tournament history.
“It wasn’t pretty as we would have liked,” said Penn Coach Mike Murphy. “Being up, we would have liked to finished stronger.”
“I am really proud of the way they (his Penn teammates) handled a very intense back and forth game,” said Penn attack Simon Mathias. “Fortunately, we were on the winning end of it.”
Mathias led the top seeded Quakers scoring 4 goals and adding 3 assists. He played with a sense of urgency wanting another game to wear the uniform.
“One of his better qualities is that he asserts himself when necessary,” Murphy said about Mathias. “In a game like this where we needed to win, he asserted himself.”
Penn was efficient in the first half on offense. Of the 15 shots they took, 11 were on goal. Eight of those crossed the goal line.
“We talked about generating really good shots,” said Murphy. “We felt like we had done what we wanted to do in the first half.”
Brown put 30 shots up, but 13 were on net. Penn Goalie Reed Junkin stood tall with 9 saves in the opening 30 minutes and 16 overall.
“The defense was doing a great job,” Junkin said. “This was the first game I saw so many blocked shots. Some of the guys were reaching out on shots. It showed the desperation mode that we want to keep playing and we want to stay here as long as we can.”
The Quakers took an 8 – 4 lead into the locker room. In the second quarter Penn went on a 5-goal run to lead 8 – 3. The spurt gave the Red and Blue some needed separation.
“Lacrosse is a huge game of runs,” Mathias said. “You take it where you can get it. This team can make a lot of energy plays.”
In the second quarter the Bears made some adjustment and chipped away at the lead. The score was 12 – 10 with the Quakers in front when Sam Handley scored to blunt some of the momentum built by Brown with 6:32 to play.
“Simon had the ball and you could see Sam coming out of the box with a full head of steam,” Murphy said about the goal scoring play. “He got the ball back and did his thing. He slips back to the middle of the field and sticks it. That was a big opportunistic situation that Sam capitalized on.”
The Bears scored the next two goals to end the scoring. Penn was hurt by 17 turnovers in the contest.
“Their (Brown) goalie got hot in the second half and did some things defensively that we had to adjust to,” Murphy said. “They scored in a lot of different ways. A win is a win and we’ll take it.”
In addition to Mathias multiple point scorers for the Red and Blue included Handley with 3 goals and an assist. Mitch Bartolo found the back of the net twice.
Ryan Aughavin netted four goals for Brown. Jack Kiffin had a goal and 2 assists. Michael Panepinto and Luke McCaleb each had two scores with McCaleb adding an assist.
Penn will appear in the championship. They are happy to be there but know it will take a complete effort against the Bulldogs.
“We are excited to be here,” Murphy said. “We didn’t play our best lacrosse, but credit that to Brown. We have a combination of excitement and enthusiasm, but a little bit of hunger and urgency to play our best lacrosse.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian