May 4, 2014

Penn Jumps to Big Lead; Tops Princeton for Ivy Crown

by Phil Shore | | Twitter

In-Game Blog Replay


Two and a half weeks after losing to the Princeton women's lacrosse team on the Tigers' home field, Penn came back to New Jersey and not only avenged the loss – their only loss in the past six games – but also won the 2014 Ivy League Tournament championship and earned an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.

Penn took control from the first whistle, jumping out to a 6-0 lead, to beat Princeton 9-6.

"Our first loss to Princeton in the regular season, they definitely deserved it. They outfought us. We kind of got bullied around a little bit," said Penn head coach Karin Corbett. "We talked about how we had to come out and fight and if we wanted to be champions we had to do it today."

The Quakers took it to the Tigers in a very lopsided first half.

Penn outshot Princeton 21-3 in the first half, won seven draw controls compared to two by Princeton, had eight ground balls compared to two from Princeton, and committed only two turnovers compared to seven from Princeton. Penn also dominated time of possession.

Quaker players wrote "Penn ball" on their forearms before the game, reminding them just how important winning every loose ball would be in order to be successful.

"We came into the game knowing we wanted to come after them and really play our brand of attack rather than letting them dictate what we wanted to do," said Penn senior midfielder Lindsey Smith, who scored two goals and added an assist against Princeton. "We did a really great job playing as a unit and playing as a team."

The Tigers would score twice in the final 10 minutes of the first half and would claw their way back into the game outscoring Penn 4-3 in the second half.

"We needed the ball," said Princeton's Mary-Kate Sivilli, in response to the more aggressive approach in the second half. "We needed to start getting momentum on our side. We just started playing like we know how to play."

Princeton junior Erin McMunn, who scored seven goals in the semi-finals, scored two of her three goals in the second half as Princeton was able to hold onto the ball more and put pressure on the Penn defense.

"It was 6-2 at halftime. It's tough to come back from that, but it didn't get to us in terms of believing we could take this game," McMunn said. "We knew they were running a very high-paced, high-powered attack today and that when we do get the ball we want to take the air out of it a little bit if we can and really make sure we're taking smart possessions and taking good looks that are going to end in a goal."

For the Quakers, Smith, Nina Corcoran, Lely DeSimone and Iris Williamson all had two goals and Tory Bensen – who scored four in the semi-finals, including the game-winner in double overtime against Harvard – had two assists and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

Since losing to Princeton on April 16, the Quakers have rattled off five consecutive victories. With a winning streak and a tournament title, Penn is playing its best lacrosse heading into the NCAA Tournament.

"I think right now we're just trying to come in confident and continue the momentum that we have," Bensen said. "We're looking to have a good week of practice despite finals and everything. Just keep working hard and get better every day. Pretty much the same goal as throughout the season, we want to stay together as long as possible."

For the Tigers, in addition to McMunn's three goals, Sivilli and Sarah Lloyd each had one goal apiece and Erin Slifer had two assists, giving her 100 points for her career.

Princeton came into the game No. 19 in the Lacrosse Magazine rankings and despite this loss has put up a solid resume, hoping to get an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. They've beaten ranked teams Penn and Virginia, and lost by one-goal to ranked teams Georgetown, Maryland, and Penn State. Three of the team's six losses came in the first four games of the season.

Head coach Chris Sailer is hopeful her team will get an opportunity to play in the Tournament.

"I think we do," she said when asked if her team deserved an at-large bid. "Our RPI is pretty good. ... I know there are a lot of teams like us that are on the bubble right now. You never know what's going to separate one team from the next."

Unlike Princeton, the Quakers know they are in. Corbett said this year's team was a special group that enjoys playing together, but that they won't look too far ahead into the tournament.

"We just take it one game at a time," she said. "We don't know who we're playing. We don't know where we're going or if we're home. We don't know anything. So it's really, let's see what they give us and then we're going to tackle that team."

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