April 17, 2010

Courtesy of Penn

HANOVER, N.H. - In a battle between the two Ivy League teams unbeaten through four conference games, No. 6 Penn made sure its place as the team to beat in the Ancient Eight with a 9-6 win at No. 7 Dartmouth.

With the win, the Quakers improve 10 10-3 overall and 5-0 in the Ivy League. Dartmouth saw its nine-game win streak come to an end, falling to 9-2 and 4-1 in Ivy play.

Speaking of win streaks, Penn's Ivy League win streak improved to 27, dating back to the final conference game of 2006.

"We played really well today," head coach Karin Brower Corbett said after the game. "They had a nice crowd on Senior Day and were very loud. It was frustrating in first half when we couldn't score as much as we wanted, but we stuck to the game plan and our leadership helped us keep focused."

Three was the magic number on Saturday at Scully-Fahey Field. After Dartmouth scored first 2:16 into the game to take the opening lead, a trio of three-goal rallies drove the storyline.

Penn countered first with three goals to take a 3-1 lead. Courtney Lubbe's free position goal with 16:18 to play in the first half capped the rally - and the scoring for the first half. From that point until the close of the first half, Penn had six shots - three saved by Julie Wadland and three which sailed wide. Dartmouth had five shots before the end of the first half, sending three wide and having two blocked - including a free position shot with 1:43 to play in the half.

In the second half, Dartmouth answered Penn's three-goal spurt with one of its own. Hana Bowers scored just 56 seconds in and the Big Green added two more before eight minutes were gone to take a 4-3 lead.

Emma Spiro tied the game with 16:22 remaining via her second goal of the game on a pass from Erin Brennan. 1:25 later, Giulia Giordano took a Lubbe feed and gave Penn the lead, 5-4. Just over two minutes later, Megan Smith scored her sixth goal of the season to double the lead to 6-4.

Sarah Plumb got Dartmouth back within one on her second goal of the game with 11:24 to play, but the Quakers did not wilt. Giordano struck back immediately for Penn on a free position shot 49 seconds later. Three and a half minutes later Lubbe added some breathing room with her second of the game.

Bowers gave Dartmouth some life with 5:50 to play, scoring her second of the game, but that was as close as the Big Green would get. Ali DeLuca won the draw control for Penn, and the Quakers held the ball for the next 2:09, missing wide on two Spiro shots. Dartmouth had a chance on attack with under two to play, but a Hilary Smith turnover quashed any chance of a comeback. Freshman Maddie Poplawski put things away with her 15th goal of the year with 11 seconds left.

Three players had three points for Penn in the win - Spiro, Lubbe and Giordano. All three had the same scoring line, two goals and an assist. Brennan finished with a goal and an assist. DeLuca was blanked on the scoring sheet despite five shots, but she was a dominating force on draw controls, with a game-high of five.

The solid effort on draws played a vital role in the win for Penn. After watching the opposition out-draw them for four of the past five games, the Quakers locked down and held Dartmouth to just four draw controls (all in the second half) while coming up with 13 of their own.

The edge in possession gained from winning draws was important as the two teams were even in turnovers at 16 apiece. Penn caused eight of Dartmouth's miscues, led by Carolyn Pollard's two caused turnovers. Pollard also chipped in two ground balls. Spiro led the Quakers in ground balls with three, while Lily Posner and Emily Szelest each had two.

The Quakers played tight defense as usual, limiting the Big Green to just 14 shots and their lowest scoring output of the season. Greta Meyer, who entered the game as Dartmouth's leading scorer with 46 points was limited to just two shots (neither of which reached goal) and one assist.

"We did a great job limiting their chances," Corbett said. "They didn't have much time to take shots and we came through with big saves. Emily Szelest may not have had the save numbers, but she was aggressive in forcing turnovers to start the offense in transition."

The win puts Penn in prime position to secure the Ivy League regular season championship and home field in the inaugural Ivy League Playoffs. The Quakers are in control of their own destiny and a win at Princeton on Wednesday could lock up at least a share of their fourth-straight Ivy title. Or, it could secure the outright championship completely based on the result of Dartmouth's game at Harvard. If the Crimson down the Big Green in Cambridge on Wednesday, a Penn win at Princeton on the same day will clinch the championship for the Red and Blue. Harvard already did its part to help Penn, beating the Tigers on Saturday, 11-9, to ensure Princeton can only get a piece of the title via a three-way tie. The Quakers and Tigers meet at 7 p.m. April 21 at Princeton.