For the second time this season, the Harvard women’s lacrosse team came within one point of completing a comeback against a nationally-ranked opponent. Three weeks after the Crimson saw its last-second, game-tying goal against then-No. 10/11 Princeton disallowed, Harvard fell just short again against No. 15/17 Penn, despite mounting a furious comeback bid in the closing minutes of the game.
The Crimson (7-4, 3-2 Ivy) trailed for nearly three-quarters of the contest and could not overcome the deficit, falling, 8-7, to the Quakers (9-3, 3-1) in Philadelphia this Saturday.
“[This result] should just build our confidence,” sophomore midfielder Julia Glynn said. “We can hold our own against any team. We need to keep improving so we can win against these kind of teams, though. “
The matchup proved to be a battle of the defenses, and Penn’s back line came out ahead, limiting Harvard to just seven scores on Saturday, the Crimson’s third-lowest total this year. Leading the Quakers defensive unit was junior goalie Britt Brown, who totaled seven saves on the day to shut down the Harvard attack.
On the other side of the field, the Crimson defense faced a formidable opponent in Penn senior attacker Nina Corcoran, who is currently ranked first in the nation for assists per game and eighth for goals per game. However, the Harvard defensive unit stepped up to the challenge and limited Corcoran to two assists and no goals on the day.
With its star attacker effectively out of action, Penn looked to its younger players, especially sophomore attacker Alex Condon, who found the back of the net three times in the second half to secure the win for the Quakers.
“We tried to limit their top attackers, and we were successful, but the rest of their offensive unit was able to step up and score some goals” co-captain goalie Kelly Weis said.
Nonetheless, Harvard demonstrated why its scoring defense is currently ranked 15th in the country with a solid back line performance, allowing Penn to convert on just eight of its 20 shots. Weis led the effort, racking up eight stops.
With both defenses firing on all cylinders, the contest got off to a slow start. Neither team managed a goal until 20:01 in the first half, when Penn broke the deadlock off of a free position shot. It would take less than a minute for the Crimson to respond, as senior midfielder Alexis Nicolia brought Harvard back on level terms. Junior attacker Marisa Romeo then gave the Crimson its only lead of the game halfway through the first period as she collected her 22nd goal of the season in a man-up situation.
Behind by one, the Quakers offense came to life. Penn scored four unanswered points in four minutes to erase the Harvard advantage and put the Quakers ahead, 5-2.
The Crimson defense rebounded, and would manage to keep Penn off of the scoreboard for the remainder of the first half. Harvard even began to claw its way back into the game, with freshman midfielder Ali Thaler and Romeo each finding the back of the net once before halftime to send the Crimson into the break down by one goal, 5-4.
The second half proved to be a battle between Penn’s Condon and Harvard, with the Quakers sophomore providing all three of her team’s points in the second stanza.
Condon found the back of the net shortly after the restart, before Crimson co-captain and midfielder Audrey Todd pulled the margin back to one goal. The situation then repeated itself, with Condon converting, only for Nicolia to match the feat. The Penn attacker ended her team’s scoring at 6:00 in the second period to put the Quakers ahead by two, 8-6.
Harvard refused to surrender, and Romeo completed her hat trick with a free position goal with just 33 seconds remaining in the contest. The clock ran out on the Crimson’s comeback bid, however, as the Quakers handed Harvard its second conference loss of the season.
“We had our ups and downs today, but as a team we never gave up,” Glynn said.
—Staff writer Sam O. M. Christenfeld can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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